During my time in Texas, it has been my goal to get BZ to eat a quesadilla. What can I say? I dream big. Do you realize what fantastic dining options would open up in San Antonio if my child would eat some Tex-Mex? Currently, we’re limited to Italian and Asian…anywhere that serves plain pasta or white rice…so basically, PF Chang’s and Olive Garden. More recently, BZ has acquired a taste for Mac n Cheese, but only if it’s flaming, bright, blue-box blues orange. Chili’s here we come!
Somehow, my daughter became a self-selected vegan. She literally gets all of her protein from nuts and cold, cubed tofu. To my child, chicken is the devil. Even if it’s shaped like a dinosaur. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? This is not a new phenomenon. It started when she was 6 months old and she wouldn’t eat a puree to save her life. It was breast-milk or nothing. Clearly 1985 was a good vintage, but you’d think she’d appreciate some variety.
So last week, when Baby #2 grabbed for my morning banana, I immediately mushed some on my finger and gave her a taste. Could this child #2 actually be interested in food? The idea that a kid might want to eat for pleasure is elating. I immediately went to the grocery store to stock up on baby-food. No, I did not make my own baby food. I did not hand-blend hydroponic, organic, locally grown, farmers’ market produce in my magic bullet mini. With BZ I spend HOURS preparing food with all of the best produce. I hand-blended carrots…
When she acted like the carrots were toxic, I tried something else. I tried sweet potatoes. They were also poison. I tried bananas. What baby doesn’t like bananas? MINE. My baby didn’t like bananas. Months passed. I started adding a pinch of salt or cinnamon and sugar here and there, hoping that her reaction might be something less than revulsion, but if it wasn’t coming from my boob, all food was suspect and ultimately, disgusting.
Finally, I broke down and tried grains. Around 9 months, oatmeal was the first food that BZ ate more than 2 bites of without gagging. It was soon after this that she entered her dehydrated period. She ate nothing, unless it was perfectly dry — Dehydrated yogurt drops, freeze-dried fruits, dry cheerios, dried apple slices. If it was mushy or wet, BZ wouldn’t touch it. They say that “food before one is just for fun,” so I didn’t sweat it until I weaned her a few months after her first birthday, figuring that once she didn’t have another source of sustenance, she’d break…Wrong. My child has the willfulness of a salmon pushing upstream and the relentlessness of Buddy the Elf.
Yet, ultimately, I respect BZ’s relentlessness. It permeates her entire existence. She has strong opinions, not only about food, but about clothing and colors and Play-Doh and the process of getting into her car seat, and the order of our bedtime songs. She doesn’t just exist, but feels and tastes every aspect of our existence. Lately, she has refused to FaceTime with anyone that is far away. Living in Texas, far away from many people that we love, it is challenging, but, it is also her choice. Somehow, somewhere, she has chosen to demand complete physical presence of her family and friends. I am in awe of willfulness, and stubbornness, or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have that solidity at three years old, but I’m thankful for hers. I am thankful for her confidence and fortitude. I will do my best to strike a balance and not stifle, but strengthen her grit.
Also, I’m pretty sure that there are no quesadillas in our immediate future.