Eat Your Heart Out

I weighed myself at the gym today. I was within my acceptable range, but maybe a pound or two above where I normally hover.

Holidays, I thought. No problem, I can drop a pound or two with a giant cup of coffee … if you get my drift.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that perhaps I will constantly put on ounces of weight until my child is a teenager. Now I kind of understand why most every parent of someone 10 and under seems a little doughy and the ones who aren’t celebrate their physique with constant “Look at me!” posts on Facebook.

It’s because no parent can figure out the perfect amount of food to give their child.

That leads to leftovers, which leads to parents eating the leftovers.

Where’s the issue? I hear you thinking, just make healthy meals for your kid.

That thought is something someone without a toddler thinks. You ever try giving a kid vegetables? It’s like you’re trying to pour hot wax into their eyeballs. I couldn’t coax my child into eating one damned bite of peas and carrots for one tortilla chip tonight. She cried for 20 minutes. I wish I was kidding.

She could have an entire tortilla chip – like a quarter of a corn tortilla – for about four peas and two slices of carrot. And she wouldn’t make that deal. Shit, the Dodgers once traded Pedro Martinez and my child can’t even fathom this trade.

Lil Entrees. Lil taste.
Lil Entrees. Lil taste.

It’s like trying to sway a rational human being into thinking that pizza is disgusting and dirt is delicious. There is simply no changing a toddler’s mind. I could have offered her a billion dollars for the one bite of peas and carrots and she still would have thrown a fit.

Tangent aside, there is always little scraps of food around our house. As a third generation Great Depression descendant, I have not been wired to just throw food away. I blame my mother for this, who can link it back to her mother – and her mother – for standing in bread lines in the 1930s. So when my child doesn’t finish her last bite of Gerber mac and cheese dinner, I scoop it up and eat it.

(By the way, it’s like eating a waxed cardboard box. Which always surprises me. Always. It’s mac and cheese for crying out loud! How can it not be ooey and gooey and delicious? I love mac and cheese. I have an entire cookbook devoted to mac and cheese. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be fully content. The problem with the Gerber shit is that it contains no salt. My kid doesn’t know the difference. She hasn’t experienced any form of culinary excellence, so to her, this is like dining at Spago. But it’s not. It’s awful. Pretty much everything she eats is bland. Except peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But even the Smuckers family gets sick of eating those, so she can’t have it all the time.)

And it’s this concept of finishing off my child’s food that I think causes any form of incremental weight gain. Last week she said she was hungry and we were waiting for-ev-er for a table for dinner, so to calm her down, I went to a food stand nearby to order her something. Of course everything was fried except for the chicken skewers. So I ordered that.

She likes chicken. I like chicken. This might actually work out.

That was my thinking. The skewers came covered in teriyaki sauce, so adding that realm of flavor to my child’s mouth automatically disqualified her from liking them. So, you know what? I had a snack of tasty chicken skewers in teriyaki sauce.

While they were good, it was just extra calories I would have never put into my body. But I’m not about to let four chicken skewers just rot on the table.

And that’s the point. Trying to appease your child’s appetite just doesn’t work. She’ll eat like a parakeet one day and a hippo the next. You can never nail it. It’s impossible.

On the parakeet days you are stuck with all kinds of leftover niblets. On the hippo days, you overfeed her because she keeps asking for more, like a guy trying to win a T-shirt at one of those Man vs. Food restaurants. Then when she finally taps out, there is bland mac and cheese, or a vegetable squeeze pouch, or hunks of string cheese, or whatever laying around.

And then I eat it.

 

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