Ben, my irascible-yet-charming preschooler, has eaten nothing but a rice cake since yesterday morning. And this is a perfectly regular occurrence in our house.
Every mealtime is greeted by his siren call: ‘I don’t want chicken sandwich/apple pie/sausages/grapes/whatever ‘ and everytime I say, ‘okay, come and eat when you’re hungry’. Because I know how to do this mother thing. I read the books. I rock at this.
The trouble is, he never comes and eats. I like to presume it’s because he’s never hungry rather than because my cooking is intolerable.
Every week though, I make fried rice because I know this is one meal he will eat and I throw in everything I can because this meal is a deal-breaker in maintaining his weight. Because, you know, he was a failure-to-thrive baby and it will be my job until he is 18 to worry about his weight. And after that? I will most likely be dead with parenting-related exhaustion.
After he has painstakingly picked out every miniscule item of stuff he doesn’t want, and then thrown it at me in protest, he will force-feed himself the rest until his poor wee stomach is ready to pop and he takes on the appearance of a foie-gras goose.
Then he burps satisfactorily.
And I think, my work here is done.
Because I’m a mother and I take my achievements wherever I can.
And then I regret he isn’t my only child so I wouldn’t have to cook for another week.