Musings on eating, with two hands

If not for that well-placed comma in today's post title, you just might think what follows will be all about double-fisted dining. That's not it at all. Today I'm spouting recent thoughts I've had on the contradictions related to kids and how they eat. Or don't eat.

On one hand (this is the "two hands" part), we all know about, are concerned about the frightening statistics on childhood obesity today. The issue tops the list of those addressed by our first lady, health and welfare organizations, doctors, school lunch programs. Most importantly, it's something on the minds of many a parent and grandparent.

We all want our kiddos to eat less, move more, be in better shape overall. Privately as well as publicly, we show concern that kids are exercising too little, eating too much.

That's on one hand.

On the other hand, always on the minds of mothers and grandmothers, more so than anyone, is how the heck to get our little ones to eat. Especially when it comes to toddlers. They don't seem to eat when we want them to or what we want them to.

In direct contrast to the obesity issue, there's the continual concern on the part of many a frazzled parent or grandparent that a child isn't getting enough food. There are books, magazines, websites, television programs dedicated to helping figure out how to get some food into the mouths and tummies of those tiny tots so they can grow up big and strong.

We beg, plead, cajole, bribe, sometimes even punish, all in the name of getting Junior to eat. I'm not talking about just veggies and other healthy foods. If you regularly enjoy the company of a child under the age of five, you likely know what I mean.

My oldest grandson is the very pickiest of the pickiest kids I have ever met. That darn kid doesn't like pudding...or whipped cream...or jello. He doesn't like jelly on his peanut butter sandwiches. He refuses to eat cheese quesadillas if the brown spots on the tortilla are noticeable. And he has never, ever had a hamburger—not even as part of a McDonald's Happy Mealin. Not in his entire life. Seriously. "I don't like them" is his response when asked why. How he knows that is your guess as good as mine, since he's never had so much a nibble of a burger.

Yet he does like avocados, broccoli, salmon. A kid can't live on those things alone, though. Well, they probably could...maybe...but that's not being realistic. So his mom and dad (and grandma and other caregivers, at times) spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to get the kid to eat. Anything. I used to think Megan was making it up. Then I spent extended time with Bubby and came away wondering—still wonder—how he manages to stay alive much less thrive.

Then there's his brother. My youngest grandson. My Mac. The happiest little eater ever. Mac dives right in, willing to experience all things edible—plus things non-edible at times, too. He even dipped into the salsa dish just like the big boys when we recently visited a Mexican restaurant. Sure, he once famously sneered and snarled at strawberries, but he gobbled them right up the very next day, so those Grandma served up just must have seemed exceptionally tart to him.

Mac enjoys food, enjoys eating. Nearly anything. Megan sent me the following photos the other night of Mac happily trying out a new recipe she had cooked up.


Bubby greets Mommy's new recipes with disdain; Mac delights in them, requires a big fork to to satisfy his big appetite.

On one hand there's Bubby, who refuses to eat. On the other hand there's Mac, who eats anything and everything.

On one hand there's the problem of childhood obesity and the need to get kids to eat less and better. On the other hand there's the frustration and desperation many parents face in trying to get their kids to eat anything at all.

Parenting can be a challenge, and never more so—nor more conflict-ridden—than when it comes to kids and food. The getting them to eat, but not eat too much.

Just one more reason I'm glad I'm Grandma to little ones, not Mom. I get to muse; Megan/Mom gets to wring her hands while trying to figure out how to make her kids eat—just not too much.

Today's question:

What has been your bigger challenge as a parent or grandparent: Getting kids to eat less and more healthy or getting them to eat anything at all?