During the 'dating' stages it might have been used as a means to set up a romantic evening with your 'person of interest'. When 'socialising with (adult) friends' was still around (!?), it (along with its close friend 'Drinking') could facilitate an evening of fun, enjoyment, laughter & tales to be told. During 'toddler times', however, it has become something more akin to a battleground, & something that could be attempted again & again on a Playstation game , as an attempt to improve on your last score!?
With darling child number one, I lovingly stood for HOURS - cooking up batches of purees; pouring over recipe books for children; & sticking up my freezer with a million ice cubes of mushed up fruit & veg. Needless to say, it was not received as lovingly as it had been produced!!
With darling child number two I tried a similar tack, & it was received even less enthusiastically than the first time! In fact, I even took jars of baby food with me when we went abroad on our first family holiday, that just so happened to coincide with her 1st birthday. She just wasn't interested in eating.... or so I thought!
It was a Spanish fish stick, picked up by my hubby one evening at dinner after we had both done our scavenger hunt around all the buffet stations whilst the other one enjoyed a romantic meal for one with two small children (!!), that changed everything. You could almost feel the relief from darling child number two, who had been desperate for some 'REAL' food for months, but had been unable to communicate as such & was SO fed up with baby mush that she was almost on the verge of giving up on us as parents! Poor wee girl - you'd think we would have known what to do, as she was our second child.... Wouldn't we??!
Her big brother was having a less successful holiday eating experience, however. He has (unfortunately) inherited some of Mummy's OCD tendencies, & likes things to be the way that they always are. He doesn't like change. Given a choice he would have the same breakfast, & lunch, every day of his life. Especially lunch! (Cheese sandwich, chicken pieces, grapes, & juice). Unfortunately for him, Spain did not seem to stock standard sliced bread, & definitely didn't have any mild cheddar cheese. I had won with one child, & lost with the other!
Eating at home became more interesting with two children to feed, or so I thought! My hubby works away so I was mostly cooking for two young children, & maybe having something for myself... if I could be bothered! For ease, & naively thinking it was the way to do it, I cooked both children the same food for their dinner at night. I even had a food planner, which I used to try & map out a delicious & nutritious week of toddler delicacies; & I even checked it against the weekly nursery menus, to make sure I wasn't doubling things up for them! God forbid. I quickly realised, only slightly after my youngest had decided, that 'Little Miss' wasn't happy with the bland / samey food that her big brother so enjoyed! And so began my cooking two separate meals for two little people... & I might grab some leftovers / something later.
Jumping forward a few months to the start of another New Year, with the dream of 'Healthy eating' & after I had decided that I missed cooking (& eating) yummy fresh food, I decided to just 'go for it' & make the soup that I so craved. With the words of another online article for Mums, that I had recently read with interest ("you don't have to eat it!") ringing in my ears, I nervously plated up homemade soup for all (gasp!). Without looking at toddler number 1 (soon to be a big '4'), I helped toddler number 2 (19 months) drink her soup through a straw (she is obsessed with straws!!) & before I knew it - IT WAS
FINISHED!!! "Mummy - I've finished!" - words I NEVER thought I'd hear before I had pleaded "sit in your seat nicely, please!" "Stop dancing & sit down please, darling?!" "Can you hold your cutlery properly, please?!" "BIGGER spoonfuls, please!", & the final warning - "your Daddy will NOT be happy when I tell him you're not eating your tea nicely!!" What is going on? Am I dreaming? That soup had VEGETABLES in it!! (albeit all blended up!)
And the surprises continued. My darling hubby treated me to a slow cooker last Sunday, after I had been 'wondering aloud' about it for at least a year, & I have downloaded two free Apps of recipes - ever hopeful, & I love reading through recipes anyway. Egged on by my Mum, who is a fantastic cook & is always full of food ideas, I tentatively threw together a chicken casserole in my slow cooker last Friday. "Mummy - I've finished!!" (Starting to get excited now - veggies in that dish = 4!!) The next night both kiddies wanted up on the chairs in the kitchen to watch / help me add toppings to the homemade tortilla - base pizzas I was making. "YUMMY, Mummy!" And yesterday's slow cooker sausage casserole success just topped it off!
So here we were today... lunchtime again, & once again I ask both children what they would like for lunch (I like to give them a chance to have a choice, or at least think they are choosing what they are having). Fully expecting to hear the usual "I would like.... CheesesandwichchickenpiecesgrapesandjuicepleaseMummy!", I nearly fell over when the request came through for "Chicken curry & rice please, Mummy!" WHAT??! I asked again - just to make sure I had heard correctly. "Yes - chicken curry & rice please!"
Anyway, needless to say, the chicken curry & rice was YUMMED up (I had made myself toast & scrambled eggs as a back-up, in case toddler minds were changed - but no!) & I am feeling SO proud!
I have NO IDEA what has happened, & why there is a sudden change of palate / more boldness & daring when it comes to food choice, but I am DELIGHTED & have just ordered 3 more recipe books for the slow cooker!! It has taken 4 years, but finally it seems I might actually be able to enjoy cooking again?!
So, I'm off to chop some more veggies up in my AMAZING 'it'll chop anything into tiny wee pieces that even the fussiest toddler won't be able to spot in a sauce' machine & think about what to make for tea tonight.
"What do you want for tea, darling?"
The moral of this story is - try not to worry, or give up... children will EVENTUALLY start eating the way you'd like them to &, although I've been VERY slow to join the gang, SLOW COOKERS ROCK!!! Veggies win! Toddlers - YUM!