If you have a fussy eater, I feel for you. Been there, I am actually where you are right now.

You know those days when you slave over the stove just to hear the words “That’s disgusting, I don’t like it?”

Yep. That sounds pretty familiar to me too. The power struggles are real. This 3-something-foot person is threatening me that he is going to starve himself unless he receives pasta and yogurt for dinner. I hear this song at every meal, so I took action – made membership at Cosco where we buy pasta and ketchup in bulk every other week to keep our toddler nice and plump, problem solved.

I must say, he was eating better when he was younger I give all the credit to baby led weaning, of course.

“They eat much better when they are in control” or so people say, and why not, we gave it a try. Half an hour later, one avocado mushed in his head and one patient-wanna-be mama witnessed the joy of baby feeding themselves art in full splendor. While my baby was busy covering every inch of the available surface with the avocado including his face making him resemble Grinch he carefully managed to avoid any dust particle of the so-called-food pass his lips.

After 30 min on my knees rubbing clean the cream carpet, I swore that this massacre would never happen again and in my presence.

Ever since I like to control the portion that my child eats so I know that he gets enough.

One year later and we are doing good. I carefully monitor his weight like he is my Thanksgiving turkey and my life depends on it, and I ensure he gets a balanced diet, and his meals are at a set interval.

Oh, that’s lovely, the second birthday came, and my fuzzy Mogwai turned into a scary gremlin very adamant that nothing that contains the slight pigment of color will be ingested unless it comes in a plastic tub with the label “ketchup” on it.

It’s all normal, people assured me.

“Mine is a right off fussy eater too; we are still having lots of problems with him.”

I look on my left and there’s the kid, sleeves up, leaned over the table like he means business, stuffing his face with lettuce, cucumbers and courgettes resembling a chipmunk who politely squeals, MORE PLEASE.

I get you.

Your kid didn’t limit his diet to 5 foods; maybe he just dislikes unripe strawberries, that’s ok, everybody should have the freedom to express their feelings and their personal taste.

After banging my head against the wall multiple times (once literally from the lack of coffee), I realized that us, mothers set expectations from out kids that can not only burden them but also ruin our relationship with them.

Is it frustrating when he rejects my carefully crafted food art plate?

Yes, it is.

Did he ask for such an effort from my side?

No, he didn’t.

So why am I slaving over a plate of food with concentrated effort when all my kid would love from me is to whack some fish fingers in the oven and wait for 10 minutes while doing my nail and hula hoop my way to happiness?

Most of the times us, as moms put unnecessary pressure on our kids for some ridiculous facts. We set up unrealistic and most of all, unreasonable expectations, joining the “clean the plate” club and other silly social movements with the hope that we will succeed as parents.

I must admit I did encourage my kid once or twice to clean his plate and after that, I did get a good sense of satisfactions and smiled victorious, like “Oh yeah, I’m nailing this parenting thing.”

Until one day.

I always thought to myself that I am not at all a fussy eater, like what do you even mean, I eat anything, D’oh.

Of course, I ate anything that I cook, myself, and I usually cook everything I like to eat, myself.

Wait, wait, wait.

Before you accuse me again from feeding my child junk and for giving in, I did try to offer him some more healthy alternatives.

From hiding sneaky vegetables in his pasta sauces and being busted like I was some sort of a Santa Clause noticed with my butt stuck in the chimney shamed and ridiculed, to offering him healthy nut-and-raisins bars as advised by dear friends which only resulted in being caught up. I’ve been caught in this wrong doings, interrogated and forced to witness the projectile, undigested healthy-cashew-mixed-with-raisin-bar permanently tattooing our magnolia wall.

You get the idea…

I grabbed a bite and immediately the texture of tire-like rubber strokes my tongue, it is disgusting!

What do we do about mealtimes?

We relax, and we take it day by day. Soon he will start school, and he will be every lunch with his mates, and hopefully, this will encourage him to try new foods. For now, we still offer him the same dinners that we eat, and he can choose something from there. I try always to include a portion of food that I know he will eat and the rest he can just start to get used to them being on the plate.

You might think that it doesn’t make any sense and that he will never try anything outside his comfort zones but, moms, I need to ask you.

Is it really necessary that out children try an egg before the age of 5 if they so adamantly hate it?

Do we find fulfillment when our kids obey and do as per instructed?

Do you find yourself lose sight as to what is fundamentally more important and get lost in what our kid’s neighbor is doing agendas?

I know parenting tips that encourage you to keep the child at the table until they finish their foods, encourage them to finish everything on their plate but I firmly believe that will have an adverse impact on how your child perceives food.

I invite you to revise your priorities, as for me, well I’ve got some sloppy kisses to give and nourish my relationship with my little boy before he will reject my hugs in public and be off to college. Feeding is essential but pressurizing your kids to eat will only result in negative associations and, you know what?

It’s not worth it.

Let your kids eat those damn fish fingers.

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