Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Parenting With Pop Tarts

If there’s a “picky eater gene”, it’s definitely dominantly inherited because I’ve passed it on to both boys.

The silver-lining is that with the help of the right woman, it’s possible to overcome the “picky eater gene”, even to the point of no longer being classified as a picky eater (thanks, Busy-Mom-E.)

In the mean time, Mom-E and I still have about 18-22 years of picky eating around the house.

Please note, this doesn’t mean an absence of trying to work on the “problem.” We continue to try to put a small amount of “new” foods on the boys’ plates at mealtimes.

This usually results in screams of protest to “take that away”, if not outright refusal to sit at the table. Still, we gingerly attempt to offer new foods.

Some parents would say, “Just let your kid go hungry. Eventually they’ll eat.”

If that were a viable option, then we’d consider it. However, in addition to the “picky eater gene”, the boys also inherited two copies of the “stubborn, type A personality gene.”

This means that before they would eat something in the category of “green” or “meat” or “new”, they would prefer to either:
1. Pass out from hunger.
2. Become unbelievably irritable and hyperactive secondary to hypoglycemia.

I’m going to give you a recipe now:
2 Picky Eaters, plus
1 Trip far away from home,
“Bake” for a few days, and you get

This summed up a portion of our recent trip to California.
You see, sometimes picky eaters become even pickier when they’re out of their surroundings (perhaps an attempt to gain more control over a foreign environment?)

We already knew that getting the boys to eat would be challenging, so early in the trip, we made the most of our downtown situation. We found a store and stocked up on as many of their favorites as possible.

The only problem was that we missed the memo that many of these things were off the preferred foods list.

Finally, several days into the trip, with the boys starting to get a little on the cranky, fussy, “stop playing with the light switchy”, “stop hitting your brothery”, “don’t jump on the bed while I’m trying to brush your teethy” from mild undernutrition, I broke down.

I bought a box of Pop Tarts. We don’t usually give the boys Pop Tarts, but it’s one “food” I knew they were highly unlikely to refuse.

And the clouds parted and the sun shone down upon us.

Big Brother ate two in a single sitting, and even Little Brother ate one.

You could almost feel the tension leave the hotel room.

It was amazing. Children with full bellies are amazing.

We became (quite a bit) more pleasant and cooperative, and even occasionally listened to directions (following them was another story).

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Pop Tarts saved our vacation, but they definitely helped.

I also wouldn’t go so far as to say that Pop Tarts are more effective at parenting our boys than either Mom-E or I, but they definitely helped.

IN SUMMARY: If they ever made a Batman-like “utility belt” for dads/parents, there should definitely be a holster for Pop Tarts.

What else would you have on your dad/parent “utility belt”? I’d love to hear from you.

See you on Fatherhood Friday,


  1. As a very picky eater myself and mother of a few, I feel your pain. I think the tranquilizer dart gun would have to be in my utility belt. I'd like the cyanide capsule to bite on in case of emergency, but would be temptd to use it too often.

  2. There are two "discriminating" eaters in this family. One is an adult and it isn't me. He never overcame his caution with eating. One of the daughters is just like her father. I went through anger, tears, frustration, the "Ok, fine, don't eat!" and "There are starving children in China" routine. The girl just didn't care. Finally, I just shrugged my shoulders. The other adult wouldn't back me up because he went through such crap as a child, he wouldn't put his own through it. And he didn't want to deal with irritability or hyperactivity either. So, I don't cook. Never liked it anyway. The picky eater daughter cooks. Ha Ha! So, what would I put in my tool belt? A lock to the kitchen door only designed to keep me out and a six-pack of lite beer (valium is too strong) to sit and enjoy watching the younger one cook. Oh yeah, and a big bag of chips to munch on with the beer and to throw to those who might be feeling hunger pains.

  3. LOL! Kaitlyn is not much of an eater, but she will eat when she is hungry. Of course, the grandparents do go crazy when they realize that she barely touches her food when they come over or we eat at granparents' houses. She has this thing that she does not eat when there is excitement of others around her. I assure them that she is fine and will eat when she wants. Cara recently discovered the joy of food. This is the child that refused all types of baby food and has survived the majority of her first year on breastmilk directly from the breast....since she also has refused a bottle. So, you ask what would I carry on my tool belt? Juice! Can I consider that a food group? LOL!

  4. I don't understand picky eaters at all even though I know many of them. I pray that my son is not picky. My dad used to make me try everything. If I didn't like it he wouldn't make me eat it, but he would not accept that I didn't want to eat something based on looks alone. I think that helped me with my adventurous eating style.

  5. I so hear ya man! I took a trip with my son to the Bahamas and all they had there was seafood, which is on his "not eat" list. All he ate the entire week we were there was fruit and cheese.

    Fortunately, one night they had a kids "circus" night and had all the kid friendly, hotdogs, etc. He really liked that night.

    Another thing I found for my two picky eaters is "Kid Cuisine". They will both eat the entire meal. Now if I can just find something my picky wife will eat!

    Oh, and PopTarts are a staple around here. I'd rather they eat those then nothing at all.

  6. Sometimes it is hard for me to respond to your posts b/c my computer at work only lets me do that on certain days. I'm at home today, so I thought i'd try responding to this one again. I have been curious about how this will turn out with little cousin. Its such a hard thing to healthy foods, but not being too pushy, not being to slack. I was talking to a good dietitian friend of my who recommended this book called Feeding your Children with Love and Good Sense by Ellen Sytter (I believe that is how you spell her last name). I bought it and read part of it while I was pregnant, but I"ve only gotten through the breast feeding section. I've heard the toddler section and beyond is really good and gives ideas on how to deal with this. I'll let you know what I think...or feel free to borrow it b/c I still have 8 more months till toddlerhood! -Aunt-E

  7. Let me correct my last post....the name of the book is Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter