That is the question.
Well, really it should be "Will he eat or won't he eat?".
I'm sure you remember when I mentioned Ade's voracious appetite when we brought him home 4 months ago. It was as if he had never seen where food came from in his whole life. And in truth, it is likely he hadn't.
I will expand on that statement with this.
What we think looking back over our time in Ethiopia is that for the children in the foster home food just appeared. They weren't involved in the purchasing, preparation, cooking and plating of the food they ate. And how could they be? There were something like 60 kids in the home. Insanity would ensue if they tried. Not to mention how many kids came from having no food at all before the foster home.
When we finally took custody of Ade, we used the little kitchenette outside of our hotel room to make meals. One of us would stay in the room with Ade while the other went and got breakfast, lunch etc ready. We ordered in food quite a bit from the surrounding local restaurants. On occasion we go out to eat in a restaurant. So, when Ade would eat a meal the food just came to him.
As we settled in at home, it became clear to him the big black thing with handles had food in it. He could also see the fresh fruit on the counter. Something primal in him triggered. I think( in my opinion) it was the "I haven't been getting what I need in terms of amounts of food or kinds and now it is available to me whenever I want/need it."
I think the worry of food not being there again or not having enough to eat caused him to constantly want it. Who could blame the little guy! If you have constantly had to fight for food for fend off those trying to take your food, once you know it is readily at your disposal you will want it all the time. Even if you aren't hungry. You just want to have it in case it isn't there again.
It was hard to watch him standing at the fridge crying. The first weeks home he would be at the door with his hand up trying to open the fridge and sobbing. It broke our hearts and frazzled us a bit too. We knew it was something that could happen but to actually see it for yourself is something else. We couldn't communicate to him the food would always be there. We just had to get in a routine of showing him inside of the fridge and telling him there would always be food and he didn't need to worry.
The need to be satiated all the time with food has slowly passed. He is confident the food will be there. He doesn't freak out or melt down if we don't get breakfast made in 30 seconds. We can tell him and show him the food is being cooked and will be ready soon and he understands it.
I can honestly say watching him cry for food has been one of the hardest things to see in all of my life. It was the desperation and fear which was so difficult to witness.
But now the toddler aversion to food has kicked in. He feels so comfortable the food will be there he has become uber picky! The "Toddler Handbooks" I have all say this is normal. It is even evolutionary we have been told. A Darwian lesson of the strongest will survive, if you will. I.E. he only eats what he thinks is safe and won't poison him. Weird hey!
"Don't take it personally" they say. Or as Yvan likes to say "Let it go". It's not that I am taking it personally it is just so damn hard to think of new meals to cook when Ade's taste is like a moving target.
One day he likes baked beans. The next he turns his nose up to very same beans he couldn't shovel fast enough into his mouth. Don't get me started on meat. As long as it is stew like or in a sauce we are good to go. But if you were just to put little chunks of chicken or hamburger or fish on his plate he avoid it like the plague.
Fruit, some veggies, oatmeal, crackers and muffins are all good! He will eat those no problem. So he gets lots of those.
He used to love scrambled eggs. Made them for breakfast this morning and you would have thought I had served him a steaming plate of pooh the way he swiveled his head vigorously saying "NO!". So, I did what I have always said I wouldn't do.
I put ketchup on the eggs. He ate them. All!
He used to eat red peppers and hummus with me. Now he prefers Beefaroni! More like Barfaroni! I would make scrambled eggs with spinach and avocado for us and he would gulp it all down and ask for more. Those days are long gone.
I didn't want to be the mom who gives her kid processed food from a can for lunch. I can feel all the moms of the world "tsk, tsking" me!
I want my son to know I love him and care for him which is why I just may "take it personally" or can't "let it go". I know love isn't shown with food. I am trying, I think, to instill positive eating habits in him. I think about it all day long, by the end of the week I am so frustrated not to mention tired, because I just can't think of another thing to make for supper.
I guess I best just let Darwin's theory play out for a while and hope he doesn't grow up to be on Freaky Eaters eating nothing but potatoes and cheese or corn starch! I know, I know...quit watching those kinds of shows.
Creative meal making is hard.
I wouldn't trade the days of watching him cry in desperation but I do long for the times we sat at the island sharing hummus.