When my younger son was ready for solid foods, I roasted root vegetables, cooled them on a wire rack then whirred them up in a food processor. Then I put the goop in ice cube trays, froze them, then popped out the cubes and kept them in the freezer until needed. When needed I carefully thawed them and fed them to the little toothless wonder I had done all this work for.
He ate whatever I gave him. He particularly enjoyed a gross combo of avocados and applesauce that my older son was reasonably horrified about.
“Did you feed me that crap?” he asked, watching in disgusted fascination as his younger brother gleefully ate green applesauce with chunks of apple and avocado in it.
I laughed at that question. When my older son was born I was so young and so poor and so clueless about what to do with babies that when he was six months old I fed him rice cereal mixed with formula. There was no internet to tell me that what I was doing would one day be considered (in some corners of the internet) a form of child abuse. My mom said to do it because the baby was sucking down 12 ounces of formula every few hours.
Side note: I didn’t breastfeed my first son. I nearly bled to death giving birth to him so the nurses and doctor said that they wanted me to make blood and not worry about making milk.
Side side note: I didn’t breastfeed my second son because my milk wasn’t coming in and the lactation specialists all said to spend all my time with the baby at my breast. I had a 16 year old son who was afraid to come out of his room for fear of seeing his mom’s boob. I gave up breastfeeding. I felt like an abject failure as a mother until I remembered that I had years and years to ruin the baby’s life and I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Not breastfeeding him wasn’t the worst mistake I was going to make as a parent.
Finally realizing that my worst mistakes as a parent were all ahead of me, I calmed down, my older son got to come out of his room and a year later I was feeding the little one food the older one was worried he had eaten without realizing it was disgusting.
Older son ate jarred baby food I could afford and I was poor. And it was 1996. I shudder to think what was in that baby food. Probably all refined sugars and tapioca. It was delicious! I used to eat one spoonful for every two I fed him.
I was absolutely, positively trying to make up for the crappy baby food I had fed my older son by spending hours making food for the younger one. I spent more time making food for the 1 year old than I did for the 17 year old. Around the time when the 1 year old turned 2, he started to refuse to eat what I made him. He wanted the crap his brother was eating. I was so focused on the baby’s food, the teenager was pretty much fending for himself. Usually, older son brought take out home for us while the baby threw root vegetable puree at the cat. My friends’ kids ate fresh cherry tomatoes and my kid ate twigs he picked up off the ground. If you gave him a cherry tomato he laughed and launched it at the sky.
He’s six now. He eats cucumbers and chicken nuggets. Apples and bananas and boxed mac and cheese. He likes milk and juice and thinks water is a waste of his time. He eats the frosting off cakes and thinks broccoli is hilarious. Did I try to feed him healthy food? I think so but I made the mistake of wearing myself out by the time he was three. I was so focused on the moment that I forgot the first rule of parenting: parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. I sprinted when it came to food, ran out of steam a few months past his third birthday and gave into the siren song of sliced apples and baby carrots.
If he’s going to eat green vegetables he’s going to have to tackle that on his own time. Luckily, my older son eats many different types of foods. For his 8th birthday I took him to a fancy seafood restaurant and he spent what seemed like half an hour in serious conversation with the waiter. The waiter brought him a platter of tentacles, eyeballs and slime. Older son happily devoured it all. I ate fish and chips and tried not to watch as the love of my life ate things I had no idea existed outside science fiction.
So I am hoping the older one will usher the younger one into the world of eating food people on the internet go nuts for. Oysters and pork belly and whatever other horrors millennial chefs cook up in the next decade. Or maybe he won’t. Maybe younger son will turn out like me and retain the eating habits of a tween. My older son tends to look at what I’m eating and announce, “You are a child.”
That’s okay. I can take the censure as long as I don’t have to get into a staring contest with what’s on my plate.