I like to say to people, “The reason God gave me a picky eater was so I wouldn’t brag about my kid eating kale.”
I pride myself on being healthy. I wasn’t always healthy, but like many people of my generation, I tossed out cigarettes and alcohol for kale and Peletons.
My son, however, came out craving Mike and Ikes and Starburst.
It’s like when we go to the beach. My skin is dark and I don’t burn. My son’s skin is like powdered sugar and it’s foreign to me. Do I put him in a hazmat suit or do I slather him in sunscreen?
I didn't really know what I was doing when he was born. In fact, I brought him to my first therapy session in diapers and said, “I have no idea how to do this.”
She said “I can help you, but you can’t bring the baby. I’m a grandma and he’s too cute.”
I got some things right. I joined a mom’s group. I watched other moms like an anthropologist and I took good notes. At the time, there was a lot of suck-food. Companies were squashing a lot of vegetables into tinfoil-ish containers with plastic suck vacuums. “Oh my god!” We marveled. “My son ate sweet potatoes and kale!”
But then, my son didn’t. He only wanted food out of bags that were filled with salt and sugar. Screw you suck foods. I realized, too late, that I had not introduced my son to actual food. I had introduced my son to space food. He is ten now and can sooner point out Rhode Island on a map then tell the difference between a pear and a cantaloupe.
Two nutritionists, a sensory expert, and a lot of fights later, enter COVID. When my son was running around and eating garbage, he was only a little unhealthy. Now, with COVID and sedentary-ville, I’m worried.
I need to help him be healthier. I need to introduce him to a grape, but I’m gun-shy. We’re stuck inside so much and I’m not in the “COVID is a hoax club.” He’s not getting a ton of exercise. I need to help this child identify a watermelon. Just so one day his partner doesn't compare his eating habits to Trump’s.
So, I go into my brain where the wise people hang out and I ask for help. One wise gal says, “You start where you start.” Another wise gal says, “So ya screwed up? Do the next right thing.” One wise gal sticks a note in my pocket as I leave. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to act like I notice or not, so I do a half nod, which can be interpreted however she wants. I take their marching orders and I make my list.
No more eating in front of video games. No more eating out of bags. Portion control. Conscious eating. But mainly, baby steps.
I remember by note. I open it.
“Your job as a mom is to do everything you can.” I crumple it up and shove it back into my pocket. This is important. I might need it later.