So, I'm a crap mother. I'm shit. I'm shite. I'm rubbish. I'm CRAP. I am really, really, really rubbish at this motherhood malarkey. I am a pile of shit. I am a crock of crap. I am a mountain of rubbish. I am not a good mother.
Still, I try to do my best EVERY single fucking day. I try really hard. My best isn't really good enough though, but it is my best. I should have myself sterilized. But I am doing my very best. It's just hard, when you're not cut out for this shit.
Still, there is one area of Motherhood Expertise where I am a fucking genius. I don't know why, I just am. And this is meant to be a motherhood blog, right? I know I go off on tangents a bit, sometimes, but officially this is meant to be a blog about motherhood and that is why I am now gonna offer you my top six tips on dealing with a fussy eater.
I'm talking about momentously fussy, by the way. Unbearably, ridiculously, painfully fussy. The kind of kids whose parents spend every mealtime weeping like Palestinian nuns. The kind of kids whose parents only know one moment in life remotely approaching any feeling vaguely resembling inner peace: it is during reading Struwelpeter, when that Suppenkasper dies after the sixth day. Fussy eaters. Here they are, my top tips:
1) Get them to help you with the cooking
This has two major advantages. Number one, whilst you're cooking, the kids will often put a few raw veggies in their mouths just to try them. They just will. Even garlic and onion and stuff. So, if the worst comes to the worst, you've increased their vitamin-intake by at least 2.7 percent.
And then the second advantage is that even really fussy kids will be more likely to try stuff they've helped cook. More likely doesn't mean they definitely will, though. There's a lot of fussy kids out there who'll just look at the stuff you've cooked blankly and say: "Oh, I don't want to eat that, Mama. I liked cooking it. I wouldn't like eating it." BUT SOMETIMES, they see it as a joint achievement.
And that's a lovely feeling. Seeing them licking tentatively at a plate of chilli con carne, and musing thoughtfully: "It's a bit yucky and a bit yummy, Mum. Maybe we should've put in more tomatoes? We'll do better next time. It's still a bit yummy. Hmmmm. Erm. I'm full now, actually!"
2) Cook fast food - but from scratch
You can make anything from scratch. Tomato ketchup, oven-chips, burgers, hotdogs, croissants, anything. And nothing's really super-unhealthy if you cook it from scratch. If you make pesto from scratch, you can add loads of spinach in.
And if you make pizza from scratch, you can do a trick on the kids like you only have the recipe for rucola and Philadelphia Cheese pizza. This worked on my son for almost a year. I was like: “Oh, I can only find a recipe for salami and olive pizza, what a pity…” It took him a year to cotton on. But once he cottoned on, it was OVER, Red Rover.
Another thing you can make is German flag pizza. A load of tomatoes for the red, a load of cheese for the yellow (sorry, I mean 'gold') and a load of black olives for the black. Okay, it's a bit weird and that, but the kids love it. There's not a kid alive who won't wolf down a bit of German flag pizza. They're so patriotic. I don't know where they get it from.
3) Have a project week
So, a project week is one where every night you only cook food from India or China or Mexico or all the vegetables you eat begin with the letter B or you have a cheese week – cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese and cheese pie and those cheesy puff things and then you can give them stuff to take into school with them for their Pausenbrot. You can even make that Indian cheese – that paneer stuff.
You can also have project weeks where you cook meals out of Roald Dahl – worm spaghetti – or Enid Blyton, stuff like that. You can buy special recipe books on all the different authors. I would write a snarky comment about cashing in here but I am fully intending to do so myself as soon as I'm famous enough and I wouldn't want you to accuse me of hypocrisy.
4) Make them food your mum used to cook for you
You know the kind of stuff I'm getting at here? Toad-in-the-hole, corn-and-ham-flan, bread-and-butter-pudding. That kind of stuff. It's best if you lay it on thick about what a treat it was, back in the Olden Days when we didn't have bubble tea or internet or mobile phones and they'd only just stopped rationing. The good thing about being an expat is, you have to trudge down to Britain in Neukölln or Broken English to get all the ingredients together, that makes it even more special and exciting. Get the person who works in the shop involved. Those people who work in them mental expat grub shops have devoted their lives to making sure expats living in Berlin can get gravy and proper mustard, they are basically slightly insane. When you inform them you are planning on making toad-in-the-hole for dinner they will probably have an orgasm. Maybe even their genitals will explode. It will make your kid think you are about to eat something really FUCKING special.
5) Don't be disappointed if these plans don't work
I know it's shit. I know you're tired. I know you just spent three hours making German flag pizza from scratch coz some dickhead on the internet told you to, and your kid has eaten two tomatoes from off of the top and now they have to go to bed and once they're asleep you have to clean up the kitchen. It's shit. It's fucking shit. Give them some vitamin pills and a bowl of Grießbrei and throw the food in the bin. Throw it in the fucking bin. It's shit. I know it is. It's fucking shit.
But don't forget how crap food tasted when you were a kid. Remember? Remember liver and kidneys and cauliflower and sprouts? Remember mushy peas? Remember fondue? I remember my dad making me eat fondue; it was like eating a plate of fucking vomit. They're not putting it on. It really does taste crap. They have different taste buds to us. Give them some Grießbrei, throw the food in the bin, forgive them – and yourself. It's shit. Don't make it worse. Just accept that this is really shit. Throw it in the bin. It's shit. I can't say anything to make it better. You did your best, man.
6) Never call your kid a fussy eater
It's really difficult, this one. Never ever, ever, EVER call your kid a fussy eater. Always pretend they're not. To yourself, to other people, and to your kid. ALWAYS. But only officially. Deep down you have to know they are, otherwise you'll go round the bend. Deep down, you know. But NEVER admit it. This is the thing with your kid's fussy eating: you need to accept it – but don't expect it.
Coz any day now, the day is gonna come, when they start eating artichokes and asparagus and sushi and seaweed – and you need to be prepared. If you officially think, and your kid officially thinks, and other people officially think, that your kid's a fussy eater, they won't even be offered the seaweed to start with. And any day now your kid's gonna start eating stuff. Any day now. Just you wait.