So here's a confession, of sorts: For YEARS, I blamed myself for Noah's picky eating habits. It was all my fault, you see, because I'd done some very specific things "wrong" when he was a baby and toddler. I started solids too early, I relied almost exclusively on jarred/packaged/processed baby foods, I never incorporated child-led weaning practices, I let his pickiness rattle me and I made it all a big deal, I short-order cooked for him and eventually mealtimes just devolved into dry Cheerios, peanut-butter crackers and a cup of milk because I just couldn't deal with it.
And here's part two of my confession: For YEARS, I have likewise taken full credit for Ezra's non-picky eating habits. Because with him, you see, I did everything RIGHT. I delayed solids and let him take the lead, I made all his baby food from scratch, I grew our own fruits and vegetables so everything was as fresh as possible, I exposed him to a ton of variety, I gave him what the rest of the family ate whenever possible, I included him in food shopping/prep/cooking and yet above all remained cool and unflappable in the face of food whims and rejections.
And then there's Ike.
(Those four words are rapidly becoming my parenting motto, to one day be etched on my tombstone, or maybe just a nice tacky wineglass from one of those monogrammed gift stores at the mall.)
I repeated the Ezra Experiment down to the letter with Ike, I really did. We breastfed, we baby-led, we made everything delicious and fresh and non-dumbed-down-ified. He ate roast mushrooms and sauteed asparagus as finger foods, learned to use a fork while eating vegetable fritatta and gamely tried any and all foods you put in front of him, and Praise Be To Satter, I never let on that I gave even the vaguest of craps about any of it.
And then Ike turned two, and has spent the last couple months morphing into a hellish mealtime helldemon of unspeakable, capricious pickiness. Slowly but surely, his list of go-to acceptable foods started to get very small, very beige and very carb-heavy. Meals became more like half-hearted grazings. Proteins got kicked to the curb, along with vegetables. He'll still eat fruit except for all the times when he won't. And while I still refuse to short-order cook or bargain or battle with him about food, it's not unusual for him to go three or four meals before deciding he's hungry enough to deem something — ANYTHING —acceptable enough to eat. (Or at least put in his mouth before spitting it out in disgust.)
Everything Ike Has Eaten Over The Past Seven Days:
2) Goldfish crackers
3) Seven french fries
4) Nine grapes
5) 1/2 stick of string cheese
6) Four spaghetti noodles
7) The inside frosting part of one Newman-O sandwich cookie
8) The outside skin part of a pancake, which I did not even realize was a thing you could peel from a pancake
9) Some purple Play-Doh, I SUSPECT FOR SOME DISGUSTING REASON
(He will drink milk, at least, but he will also drink ALL OF THE MILK if you let him, which I most certainly do not. I've tried withholding milk completely in hopes that he'd be hungrier without it — we sort of overshot "hungrier" and landed on "even angrier helldemon who is STILL NOT EATING THOSE FUCKING MEATBALLS." So we just keep his milk intake on moderate and sigh at him a lot.)
If I were to write myself an Advice Smackdown letter and then answer myself, I'd probably say 1) dude, I think writing to yourself for parenting advice is probably a sign of a mental problem, and 2) it's a phase and it will pass and he will not starve. In fact, Ike is sturdy as all hell and only weighs seven pounds less than Ezra, the boy who eats everything and then asks for seconds, the boy I now realize I've been taking inappropriate credit for.
On the plus side, I can finally stop blaming myself so much for Noah's picky eater phase. And if I were to write a parenting book on feeding your kids, I now have the perfect title. I will call it SCREW THIS NOISE: Kids Are All Different And Nothing You Do Matters So Why Don't You Just Go Back To Bed And Let The iPad Do The Parenting For Awhile?