Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Animal Eating Disorder

There are Things living in your eyebrows. They feed on whatever they find there, and I doubt it is tiny portions of mac and cheese. There are cockroaches that can survive eating the glue off postage stamps. There are snakes that can close off their digestive systems and not eat for several months after a meal. There are also animals that have to consume their own bodyweight in food every day. Nesting birds, for example. The only logical conclusion to be drawn as a parent is that children are basically cockroach-eyebrow-thingy-snake-and-finch digestively speaking.

I have had a child who could run around, play all day, have the energy to reduce his father to physical decrepitude and still complain that he wasn’t tired at bedtime- all without apparently eating anything. Another child has pebbles in his gullet leading to his four stomachs. He’s incurably ruminative. His meadow is the fridge- he’ll gaze into it like it’s the National Gallery, and he is a collector of fine art, and he has come to replenish his vault. My daughter, on the other hand, seems to have plate amnesia. The minute there is food in front of her, she’ll get distracted by pretty much anything. An ant! And the fork will hover in the air, never quite making contact with the food below.

There have been periods when I have cooked big meals- carefully considered the tastes and whimsies of each child before selecting the ingredients- served the food up, and, after about 45 minutes, thrown most of it in the bin. I can still remember the trauma of being forced to eat as a child- sitting at the supper table as the dishes were cleared away, and the sky outside turned from summer-sunny to gloomy night. Being told “You are not leaving this table until…” I think the problem was a stew, unforgivably served with gristle still on the meat.

So I don’t force them. I have thrown away more than they have eaten. And still I cook or make meals for them, three times a day. I must be insane.

So the new approach is this. I will discover each of their inner animals. The air-kid has cockroach genes- he’s getting a full set of World Cup 2010 Commemorative Stamps on his plate tomorrow. The grazer is going to be able to go hands-and-knees in front of a trough of lucerne, and the daughter is going to get a conductor’s baton and a chamber orchestra.

I didn’t use their names this time, because it’s actually kinda funny, but a little cruel to laugh at their expense. Besides, I’m hungry, and I don’t have the time to flesh this out with details…

1 comment:

  1. My knucklehead was one of those run-around-all-day-never-gets-tired-without-ever-eating boys.
    He's not really like that anymore, but he was when he was younger. I also stopped fighting with him about it and tried to make sure I made something he would eat and that there was plenty of food he liked in the pantry so that if he did announce he was hungry I could immediately produce something to satisfy his hunger.


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