Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For: If You're Worried Because Your Toddler Won't Eat ... Just Wait

Feeding the boy who makes the 800-pound club is no easy feat.

When my 13-year-old was a toddler, I worried non-stop that his refusal to eat anything green and leafy and his reliance on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni cheese would surely result in malnutrition. His endless buzzing about would result in a lethargic lull of energy. He wouldn't grow. He'd get sick. Those were my fears.

But now, as the pitter-pattering of little feet has transformed into the plodding angst of pubescent-filled, man-sized Nikes, I realize there was no need for all that worry a decade ago.

My kids are now 17, 13, and the twins are 9. The time I spend keeping these kids nourished is increasing at an alarming rate.

Ten years ago, I never would have imagined that my little star soccer player would switch gears in high school and focus so wholeheartedly on football. His dedication to bulking up and his ravenous appetite have transformed me into the proverbial hamster on the spinning wheel. 

When the family sits down to dinner, he'll conclude by saying, "that was a good snack." In the early days, I thought he was just joking, exhibiting some teenaged bravado. It was no joke.

It soon became that leftovers were non-existent. So now I cook more, doubling and tripling recipes, so there are leftovers. 

If I make a meal early in the day and refrigerate it, I have to make a point of telling him, "Don't eat this. It's dinner."

Little brother following in the feeding frenzy footsteps.
He asks me to buy the 5-dozen pack of eggs from Costco. I don't have room in the refrigerator, I tell him, settling on two 18-packs.

I try to be one of those freezer-friendly, make-ahead meal kingpins, proud of myself for making up and freezing a dozen burritos. Then he eats four or five in a day. 

I find myself at the grocery store nearly every other day. Trips to Costco that used to come every four or five weeks are now weekly. I scour the Internet, the grocery sale ads, the Pinterest pages for recipes and ideas for filling the freezer. And he still opens the refrigerator and proclaims, "there's nothing to eat." 

He has a particular friend whose father is a chef and former football player. My son raves about his cooking (ouch!) and he eats a lot of meals over there. I frequently cringe at the thought of how much my son is putting away at the expense of another family. I'm certain that one day I'll receive an invoice that would surely total in the thousands.

Until then, the moral of the story for parents of picky-eating toddlers: sit back, relax, and start filling your freezer.

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