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Friday, October 23, 2009

Affiliate Friday: Under the Influence on "What's for Dinner?"

There are a few blogs that I actually remember reading for the first time and thinking, "Wow. I totally relate to this chick." And that is how I felt when I read Jo from the infamous Under the Influence. She wrote about her love for prescription painkillers and what can I say? I love 'em too. I remember being sent home with Percocet after having my first kid as a true highlight. I'm actually not sure what I was more in love with - my newborn baby girl or my pain meds. Okay, I'm exaggerating. I think. Anyway - Jo is always on my radar and I love her fresh, frank approach to life. She likes to wear sexy red lingerie for her man (right?) and she is responsible for my current love affair with Hanky Panky thong underwear. She's a proud affiliate of MWOB and I'm thrilled she's gracing our space today on "Affiliate Friday." Check her out if you don't already. Happy Friday.

I don't know how it is in your house, but it seems most families have at least one picky eater. I don't mean a little fussy. You know, those kids who don't eat much or try something and don't like it. I mean P-I-C-K-Y. As in refusing to eat anything that is not a piece of breaded, processed chicken meat, pizza or a hamburger. Along with some chips and chocolate. All with ketchup, except the chocolate.

Well, I have that kid. I blame myself, really.

When he was a baby, I think I waited too long to introduce solid food. Shortly after I did, we were out to dinner and he choked on a carrot piece that I had not cooked long enough. Just as my husband and/or I were about to yank him out of his wooden restaurant high chair to perform the baby Heimlich Maneuver, he coughed up the carrot piece and proceeded to vomit all over the restaurant floor. Oh yeah, we were dining with friends who didn't have kids. It was a lovely moment and I quickly developed a fear of him choking. I'm sure had I entered therapy for this, it would now be a real mental disorder with a real name, like "Fear of baby choking" disorder, and my picture would be next to the definition in the medical journals.

Fast forward to age 12, and that kid has got to be the pickiest child I know when it comes to food and eating. The ketchup thing? Ketchup ON.EVERYTHING. My in-laws live in Pittsburgh and every year they buy him a Heinz Ketchup t-shirt so he always has one that fits him. For Halloween, two years in a row, he was a bottle of ketchup. It was perfect.

After years of beating myself up, wanting to beat him up, threatening him with liver and onions (which no one in this house even eats!) and many missed meals on his part because I long ago stopped making a separate dinner to suit his palate, he came up with the idea of once a week allowing a family member to pick the dinner menu for a night. Everyone in the family has to eat what is on the menu. Well, at least taste it. If you don't like it you can choose to sit at the table with the rest of the family and NOT EAT or you can choose to choke it down, but there are no additional foods made.

All three kids loved the idea and hubs and I thought it would be a great way to get them to try some new stuff, with their buy-in since they all agreed to it. It hasn't stopped the griping, complaining and whining, especially since Picky Eater thinks I shouldn't get a menu night since I choose dinner menus 99% of the time anyway. We still hear "I don't like that" or "Yuck, that is gross!" or "This stinks!" or "Who eats this shit?" (that would be me). But it's something we all agreed to do and the griping, complaining and whining and the comments are minimized with a reminder of who wanted to do this in the first place. The one big caveat is if you choose not to taste the food, you forfeit the next time you are supposed to choose a meal.

Let me tell you, people, this picky kid of mine will not hesitate to give up his menu night in order to not have to taste something he THINKS he doesn't like.
As for me, if anyone actually ever picked liver and onions, I would be choosing NOT to eat, or even taste, our dinner that evening. I would sit quietly at the table, knowing I was forfeiting my next menu night. Then, after everyone went to bed, I'd eat a bowl of cereal.


  1. My youngest daughter is a LOT like your son. She's eight, and it's not ketchup but barbeque sauce. On EVERYTHING! Sounds like you have a plan, but at 12, I imagine this is going to be a long road . . .

  2. What a great idea!

    The bowl of cereal after everyone is in bed.

    Oh, and the pick-a-meal rotation too. Totally implementing that around here. Does Chinese delivery count?

  3. if it makes you feel any better, it's probably not related to the carrot choking incident. i did everything wrong with my oldest, allowing him to eat cold chopped up hot dog and cheese sticks for MONTHS at a time. with my youngest, i cooked veggies and pureed them and fed him fresh, natural home made food. well, fast forward a few years, and oldest will try ANYTHING from lamb to sushi to curry. youngest tends to gravitate towards the 10 piece chicken nuggets (no ketchup, as that might count as a vegetable) with a dr. pepper.

    i will admit that i perpetuate the bad behavior and allow everyone to eat what they want for dinner. hubs is into the low carb thing, so he is usually stuck with a salad. big boy will make his own dinner, usually consisting of some elaborate expensive meats, a baguette and who knows what else. i think he thinks he's european. little guy goes for the standard kid fare-- sloppy joes, tacos, hamburger helper, and the old standby... oatmeal. the important thing is we try to coordinate all of our separate dishes to be ready at the same time so we can eat together.

    it's not as much as a free-for-all as it sounds. well, yes it is.

    i like your idea, but i worry i would have too much food to throw away, and that literally makes me nauseous to think about. which is strange, because i am not like some huge conservation, green type of person, but i just hate the idea of wasted food. and nobody here will touch leftovers.

  4. OY-I own one of those HE is 14 and has a big dislike for ketchup-no really he can puke at the sight of a ketchup bottle-so after typing that i guess it's a good thing our boys dont trick er treat

    But it goes beyond the ketchup to just like your son he 'THINKS' he doesnt like something...take meatloaf for example it is basically a loaf sized hamburger...well unless your martha stewart...

    It is hard and fustrating and i dont mean b/c i am one of those moms who cooks nutrious meals yanno getting all the food groups in an all BUT rather b/c I am sick and tired of being told my food is crap when he hasnt even tasted it...

    Great post Jo!

  5. Heh heh- Boy, do I relate to this. Especially the choking part. My son choked on a Peanut M & M I didn't know he's swiped from a candy dish at a clothing store where I was shopping (stupid mommy! get a sitter!) So anyway, he choked on it **when I laid him down to change his shitty diaper** on the floor. You can imagine the scene that ensued with me and the shop owner pounding his naked back, me kneeling in the mushy poo-poo.
    Oh, and he still eats next to nothing. He hates even the picky kid staples-hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, pizza sauce, oatmeal- everything.
    It's just the way kids are, I swear, because my 10-month old will scream for friggin' red pepper hummus. He's like a great white shark- mouth's always open hoping something will end up in it. And I haven't done anything differently with him than I did with the first one.
    Great post!

  6. Amanda Jo Ellen (in arkansas) can't u tell......October 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    Jo, (Great name);)

    the pick-a-meal menu idea is awesome! we have a vegetarian (self chosen at age 5 after a long argument about where ham comes from) teenager, 2 carnivores, 2 hypoglycemics and my husband is a food nazi- when we were dating he ruined me of Brummel and Brown Yogurt butter as he pointed out the main ingredient: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil- not yogurt! A*^hole that he is- i thought i was eating some great healthy yogurty butter. Alas, partially hydr. veggie oil rots in your colon indefinitely.
    That said, we have many needs to address over h ere and some of us are waaayyy too passionate about food. When hubby goes out of town (rarely) the twins and i make huge salads, french bread, chips and salsa, apples and cheese and some kind of dessert. we eat in front of the tv without napkins and we love it!! hubby and i need some new ideas to please everybody and their food issues: i hate milk, nuts in dessert and bananas, somebody else hates"seedy hippy bread" and the middle child could live on blue gatorade and ham...though she does love broccoli and asparagus. Our mixed menu night sounds like an a
    la' carte off the cafeteria line at the psych ward or Luby's.

    I was also a choke-a-phobic and baby once smiled at me all guilty looking at the library and i fished a marble out of her throat that she must have found on the floor. another time she ate a bug and puked up neon green fluid.....
    kids sure do force us to have a strong stomach, no?

  7. Jo, I love your idea. I'm contemplating giving it a try.

    Unfortunately, I'm the picky one in our family. Among other things, I don't serve fish. I don't serve ketchup - both are repulsive to me. And now my kids don't like either. Hum?

    And, after everyone goes to bed ... I'd be eating chocolate. Actually that pretty much happens EVERY night regardless of what's for dinner!

  8. Lee - thanks for the great intro!

    Cheek - maybe we should get our kids together for a long life with one another - they can be picky together.

    Em - if someone chooses Chinese delivery - IT COUNTS!

    Deb - yep, we throw away more food than we should almost every night. I don't do it without some guilt, though.

    Georgie - yes, I do get a little tired of the food critics in this house!

    Lucy - I'm thankful there was no poop involved in my choking incident. I would have really been scarred for life after that!

    AJE - I'm the foodie here, but thankfully, a night of chicken nuggets and fries does appeal to me on occasion because I also love junk food!

    Amy - You can always forfeit your menu night and not eat what is chosen. The bowl of cereal will be waiting for when everyone is in bed.

  9. What a great idea! I have one super eater, and one average eater, but no one horrible except my husband= who likes nothing green.

  10. I have a picky eater, only in my house, picky is a nice word for freakin pain in the ass. Yes, That is what I have. A pain in the ass eater. She brings home ENTIRE school lunches that I packed...lunches that just last week she LIKED...and she brings them home uneaten, because well, NOW she doesn't like them.

    And she never chocked on carrot. Not yet, at telling what I will shove down her throat in a fit of frustration.

  11. My oldest once had a hard candy at my grandmothers. Got stuck and Hubs was about to do something when it came flying out. He is the pickiest but I make one meal and everyone eats it. Or most of it. What he is is a complainer. He'll complain about some food that used to be his favorite. Like he couldn't get enough Eggo waffles for school mornings. Now he won't touch them. I guess one out of three complaining eaters is not bad... I like you idea--I think I will ask them to help plan a night each of what they want for dinner.

  12. I've got a picky one, too, and he has driven me crazy for years. He, like your son, can easily go without eating his dinner and won't even complain about it
    (now that he is 10 and has had years of conditioning). I never made separate meals for anyone, though I did go through a stage of offering a bowl of cereal or yogurt instead of dinner- but the child had to make/get it for themselves and be at the table with everyone. He would do this when he was 4 y.o.! Anyway.... he is still really picky and makes me crazy, but I have hope for him because his favorite dinners are chicken piccata and linguine with clam sauce (white wine, not the red sauce). Go figure. *massive eyeroll*

    Love this post! It is a problem so many of us moms deal with!!

  13. I was a picky eater as a child...and I remember my mother making me sit at the table until I finished eating my dinner. Sometimes in the dark. Sometimes I threw up on the table. I would hide food in my napkin or feed it to the dog. These memories were and still are so burned into my mind that I just could never be that mom who makes the child clean their plate. Never pushed the whole try this once thing either. Of course I had healthy food for them...but everyone had there one favorite dish and that's what they ate a lot of. If they didn't like what was for dinner then I usually let them eat cereal or mac and cheese.

    Three of them are grown now and they are not picky eaters at all. The youngest likes about 3 things, but I've lived through that before. :)


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