We all know one. You might have been one. Let's not beat about the bush - fussy eaters are a massive pain in the arse. But let's take a moment to reflect on how that affects us, the mother of the fussy eater.
The mother of the fussy eater is a beaten down Annabel Karmel indoctrinated shadow of her former self. She hovers around at mealtimes at other people's houses asking nervously 'what are the plans for tea?'. She has to subtly take plates over to the kitchen counter and carry out bizarre routines like scraping butter off bread or sieving herbs out of sauces.
She has an irrational desire to get food down little Humperdinck no matter the method. She insists on feeding him breakfast at a 90 degree angle to the television with a slice of toast in his hand. She has gone to extensive lengths to get him to eat anything other than Cheerios. She once fashioned an avocado into the shape of Sydney Opera house to try to get him to eat it after he showed a vague interest in kangaroos.
She is quite slow to move around, the mother of the fussy eater, because she is laden with so many snacks just in case Humperdinck gets peckish. If he expresses any interest in food then she can list a selection to rival most restaurants.
It starts off normal -
'Apple, Humperdinck? Banana, darling?'
and then gets increasingly strange -
'Kiwi coulis, popsy? Cubes of manchego, Humpy?'
and then just downright bizarre -
'Grape cut into the shape of Lego, boo boo? Organic mango picked by a zebra, sweetie?'.
It is at this stage you can safely assume that the mum of the fussy eater has lost her shit. She has been preparing food to tempt Humperdinck all through the night and was up at 3am last night researching 'how to feed a sleeping child'. She is CONVINCED that Humperdinck's behaviour is a result of malnutrition and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Humperdinck will only eat a packet of chocolate digestives a day. For breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The mum of the fussy eater is much speedier in the home environment as she is free of her burden of snacks. She whizzes around the kitchen like a butler on speed creating elaborate homemade dishes and presenting them in front of her little darling with trepidation and tension normally felt by the contestants on Masterchef. Her mini critic is brutal with his review and if she isn't left wearing any food she considers it a marginal success.
Just in case you were in any doubt, there is actually a scientific correlation between the amount of time spent preparing a meal and the enjoyment of the said meal. The more effort, thought, time and love poured into it the more likely it is to be declined. The easier it is to make, say for example unscrewing the lid of a pouch of organic poached salmon and quinoa, the more likely it is to be wolfed down. The mum of the fussy eater has remortgaged in order to keep Humperdinck fed in pouches ( x 6 a day) but felt like he was somewhat taking the piss when he ravished the quail egg caviar pouch but turned his nose up at her home-made chicken casserole. Bastard.
The verbal fussy eater delivers comments about the food like a dagger to his mother's heart - 'yuck', 'bleugh' or 'NO' are his frequent forms of feedback. The mother of the fussy eater can often be found trying to keep her composure (it's what the books told her to do) but then flicking a 'v' at little 'Dink's back before scurrying off and sobbing into her homemade fish pie. And then giving up and getting Humpy a packet of chocolate digestives out of the cupboard. Humperdinck is not going to go hungry, not on her watch.
One day little Humperdinck will wake up and decide that today, he wants to eat like a normal, rational human being.
On that day the mother of the fussy eater will wake up and behave like a normal, rational human being. And then she will wonder why she invested so much time, energy and money on something that little Humperdinck was always destined to grow out of. Even if he did wait until he was 18.
Until then, heed this advice - stock your cupboards with chocolate digestives and never, ever utter the words 'my kids will eat anything' again. The mother of the fussy eater may be in earshot and jigging the Humpmeister under her armpit whilst trying to force feed him some cauliflower mash.
And I can't be held responsible for her actions.
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