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If Hell exists, then I’m almost positive it includes an eternity of eating dinner with a toddler.
Only a year ago the Muffin Man was eating everything I put in front of him except avocado. If you can make it in a home kitchen, there’s a good chance he ate it with gusto. The kid gobbled up Gumbo, binged on Bulgogi (the spicier the better), and scarfed down Shrimp Scampi. I prided myself on his advanced palate, and secretly gloated when other Moms would complain about their children only eating mac and cheese and toast. I thought for sure that Noah’s wide-ranging culinary tastes were due entirely to my having made all of his baby food and our feeding him a varied diet from a young age. I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that my son would never become picky, and I refused to believe people when they told me that even the most adventurous child would stop eating everything.
In other words, I was a complete and utter idiot.
Based on my own experience, I can tell you that there is a unique food pyramid for toddlers, and it most definitely does not include leafy greens or legumes.
Pasta. Not just any pasta, mind you. It must be penne. Not fusilli, not spaghetti, not zitti, just penne. The penne must be served plain, with no sauce, no butter, and nothing green. Even a speck of green will throw the entire meal into a tail spin and ensure that your toddler jumps up from the table and runs away screaming as though he spotted the Loch Ness Monster in his pasta bowl. Sometimes, when the toddler diner is in an adventurous mood, he will want parmesan cheese on top of his pasta. If that’s the case it must be shredded, not grated, and certainly none of that crap in the green can passing itself off as cheese when it is really “cheese product.” Even picky toddlers have standards, woman.
Bread. They say that bread is the food of life, and toddlers 100% subscribe to this belief. Bread is delicious and should be served with every meal and, in many cases, instead of a meal. The less nutritional value the bread has, the better. Don’t try to serve any of that Ezekial bread that has seeds and other “weird” ingredients, because your toddler will go agro on your ass. Challah is preferable to anything else, but white trash Wonder Bread will be eaten in a pinch, as will any wheat bread containing sugar and other preservatives.
Dairy. Toddlers don’t care if you think it is unnatural for humans to eat the milk of other mammals, because dairy is freaking delicious. Cheese, yogurt, ice cream and cream cheese are the ingredients for a perfect meal. The more dairy, the better, especially if it comes in the form of butter that can be licked off of a perfectly good piece of healthy bread. In fact, butter eaten by the spoonful is the best breakfast when your parents attempt to feed you disgusting things like eggs or oatmeal.
Sugar. Anything that contains copious amounts of sugar must be consumed immediately. Your toddler thinks it is bullsh*t that you don’t have cookies and cupcakes in your home at all times, and he considers it a personal affront that his candy consumption is confined to Halloween and birthday parties thrown by parents who are irresponsible enough to stuff their pinatas full of M&M’s. Toddlers are genetically engineered to throw loud tantrums when denied a sugar-filled substance in public places, and they make it their personal mission to seek out processed food items filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and other poisonous substances sure to stunt their growth. Don’t even bother to attempt to pass off a healthy cupcake/muffin/cookie as a treat, because your toddler knows the difference and does not accept substitutions.
Restaurant food. Food that your toddler refuses to eat at home is greeted excitedly when served to him at a restaurant. Meatballs? Chicken? Eggplant? Every single one of these items is scarfed down with relish when eating out. No plain penne pasta here – serve up a giant bowl of spaghetti with meatballs, and the kid is sure to lick the plate clean. Trying to get your kid to eat vegetables, and getting nowhere? Treat your offspring to dinner at the local sushi joint and look on in amazement as he ingests cucumbers, edamame, and avocado without complaint.
And that, my friends, is why the Food Pyramid for parents includes a significant portion of alcohol.