Pop Tart Poppycock

Johnny turned 21 months old, and went on a hunger strike.

Just like that, he stopped eating. This is not to say he was a tremendous eater before, but he did okay on his diet of usual stuff. My friends all think this is hilarious, because I was the mom who swore I'd never feed my kid a frozen chicken nugget and I was going to do EVERYTHING. IN. MY. POWER. to ensure he'd never be a picky eater. Ah, the dreams of the pregnant and uninformed.

Let's just say this: Johnny's repertoire of acceptable foods has not been expansive for the last three or four months. He gave up almost all meats, is iffy on eggs, doesn't like anything red (read: spaghetti, pizza, ketchup, etc.), is picky about fruits, and is virtually waging war on vegetables. I'd go near him with a bite of peanut butter on a cracker and he'd screw up his mouth and hid his face.

And then the few things he liked - cereal bars, chicken nuggets, deli ham, clementines, graham crackers - disappeared from his palette. It became a steady diet of mac and cheese and hot dogs. I'd drump some cheese on some veggies and he'd eat two peas. He gave up oatmeal, quesadillas, and even pancakes with syrup.

I. WAS. LOSING. MY. MIND. Truly, it was driving me to distraction. People, of course, are always offering advice. "Have you tried ice cream? Have you given him a cheese stick?" Of course it's all very well-meaning and while I do appreciate the concern, I often want to scream. I. HAVE. TRIED. EVERYTHING. If they sell it, I've bought it, tried it, and ended up throwing it away.

So one afternoon last week, mid-strike, we popped in to Capital City Bank to see my friend Deb and do a little home loan business. And she offered Johnny a Pop Tart. Not the most nutritious of food choices, but at this point I was happy if food - any food - passed his lips. And he ate the stinking Pop Tart, and asked for more.

The next day, I picked him up from daycare, and he got in the car and started chanting "Debi. Debi. DebiDebiDebiDebi." Luckily, I had some business I could do at the the bank, and so we went over the bridge to see Aunt Debi. And she handed him another Pop Tart. And he ate it, and asked for more. We started calling her Aunt Pop Tart.

If he likes Pop Tarts, I thought, Pop Tarts he shall have. And I went out and bought the EXACT SAME KIND, and made plans to make some homemade and hopefully mildly more nutritious ones from scratch when we get moved into the new house and I have a kitchen again.

So I gave him the precious Pop Tart the next morning for breakfast, and not only was it denied, he covered his eyes with his little hands as if LOOKING at the Pop Tart was painful, and he sobbed. He was victimized by the presence of the Pop Tart.

I notified Aunt Pop Tart that her reign was over.

UNTIL I TOOK HIM BACK THERE THE NEXT DAY. Aunt Debi couldn't resist trying. "Johnny, do you want a Pop Tart?" Him: "YEP."


My friend Lindsey says that toddlers are all schizophrenic, and I think she's right. She says growing up is a process of normalization and it's our job as parents to do our best to help that along. Not that we're going to bat 1000 or anything.

The best laid plans, and all that. My kid has a foodie mom and a big-eating, pizza loving dad. He could potentially eat a homemade, tasty meal every night. Instead, he prefers box mac and cheese, if you are lucky. Obviously the gene pool is not really a factor here.

The good news is, he's back on food. This week, he can't get enough of anything and everything. But he's started coloring on our walls. A decent trade? I think so.


jestevens 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh, Megan. This is hilarious. Reminds of a friend's kid, who would eat nothing but french fries for months. She just graduated magna cum laude from college.

Cindy Hart 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm SURE you've tried this and I apologize for being another one of those people that suggests something, but the pureed food in the squeeze containers have been winners with my two toddlers. They get great fruits, veggies, or grains in a fun way (like astronauts! )- and I get comfort in knowing they are consuming something more nutritious than licking butter off a slice of white bread. Plum Organics has a "Mish Mash" line (which we call all of them Mish Mash now...) and then I think the other brand we've purchased (from the Merc or Dillons) is the Happy Baby line.

Megan Green Stuke 7 years, 3 months ago

Cindy, I have to admit I have never heard of such a thing and will be seeking it out tout d'suite! Thanks!

kc1 7 years, 3 months ago

start by saying Love your column!!!! Love the Mr M & P to talk about hubby. saw some bashing about that. It's great! Don't stop! But just had to comment on this column. My son was this age once too. He also would only eat mac and cheese and hotdogs! We stewed about it too. By 5 he had decided he liked pizza too and the rest is history 6 foot 5 and 20 years later .... Moral.. LOOK at the boy! he is cubby cheeks and cute as a bugs ear. Dont worry! Put healthy food in front of him and eat yourself. If he does not eat... so be it. You have FULL CONTROL of his diet at 22 months (aside from poptart wielding friends) Set it in front of him on a regular basis and he will eat if he is hungry. Lots of heavy kids in the world!

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