Toddlers are famous for their food fixations. I’m blessed to be raising a very adventurous eater, but even Zach has some toddler quirks that would drive me insane if I chose to let them bother me.
This morning, I pulled out a container with a few strawberries from the fridge. I asked Zach if he’d like some with his breakfast and he said yes. I told him I had to rinse them first, and he flipped out. While he screamed, I washed the strawberries, put them in a bowl, and took them to the table.
(Yes, I know I should’ve acknowledged his upset, asked questions to clarify his discontent, blah blah. Honestly, this was pre-caffeine and I’d been up since 2am with a kicking fetus and a coughing toddler who hogs the bed and puts his feet in my face. He’s lucky I didn’t eat the strawberries myself.)
He sat down, pushed the strawberries away, and said: “I don’t want them.” I was genuinely puzzled, as they are one of his favorite foods. I almost said, “That’s fine, you don’t have to eat them,” but fortunately my husband (who doesn’t have a kicking fetus in his belly nor toddler feet in his face, and could probably sleep through both) stepped in first.
“What’s wrong,” he asked.
“They’re wet,” Zach answered. “I don’t like wet strawberries.” (Mind you, he’s happily devoured mountains of wet strawberries all his life.)
Now, I am NOT the kind of mom who will bend over backwards to make the food look just right for her picky toddler. I had a million things to do, and I wasn’t about to hand-dry each strawberry. But his quirk gave me an idea. I took a paper towel, placed it next to his bowl, and showed him how to dry his own strawberries.
Problem solved!! He was incredibly focused and productive, and even gave my husband a lesson on how to dry strawberries.
I wonder how many food quirks could be nipped in the bud if, instead of taking it personally or labeling the child as picky, we could empower him to to be an active participant in his own need for order.