As a child, I was what's often referred to as a "poor eater." Not always, though. Whenever I'd visit my grandma's, I'd return to my parents' house with what my mom would call a popped belly (struttemage). Why? Because my grandma would make meals so much fun and cozy. She'd bake miniature bread for me which she sliced really thinly, spreading the butter generously, letting me spoon out mounds of her own homemade raspberry jam on top. She let me sleep in bed with her, and then in the morning, after stretching her feet up in the air, greeting each of her toes good morning, she'd talk about what she would like to have for breakfast that day, making a soft boiled egg, some anchovy and cheese sound just heavenly. She'd make hot chocolate for me, warming the milk to just the right temperature and we'd have breakfast by the fireplace.
Back at my parents' house, I'd lose my appetite. All that nagging to eat, the bickering between my parents; meals were the most stressful part of the day.
Over the years, I have regained my appetite for food and the comforts of shared meals with loved ones. I was so excited when it was time to introduce solids to Lilly, but, alas, she was not as excited. At 28 months, she still prefers the boob to bread, at least most of the time (more and more, the Brick Oven Bakery's sourdough bread takes first place, especially if it's freshly baked). But we stuck to our daily meals together, tried our best to make them pleasurable for all, from infancy through babyhood to toddlerhood. And more and more so, she enjoys our meals together. And of course, we're tickled when she downs the tilapia we have on Fridays or whenever she tries something new, like, most recently, mixed spring greens. But more than anything, I'm grateful that we haven't put pressure on her to eat. Rather, we've tried to make it fun and above all as non-stressful as possible (though you know, eating with her has often meant that either my husband or I have had her in our lap while we eat, or shared our chair with her, or played musical chairs around the table throughout the meal). Yet, more and more, she'll sit and eat longer with us before playing nearby on her own. At least on good days (the other days, she's impatiently squirming in one of our laps while we down our food and entertain her).
All this said, I've surprised myself lately by recycling some of my parents' tricks to encourage her to eat. Like, "does baby Millie [one of Lilly's baby dolls] want some oat meal?" [Spoken with baby voice]: "Yes." "Do you want Lilly to give it to you?" "Yes." Upon which Lilly does a little seated dance in her chair before she takes her spoon and pretends feed baby Millie before feeding herself. So cute. Bite after bite.
Just the other day, I said something that shocked me even more. "Can you eat one bite banana for your friend Anna?" Gleeful bite. "Another for Elias?" Another one. And on and on. The fact that it worked??!! Astounding.
So, I guess my parents' weren't completely off the track, had they just stuck to the fun parts and dropped the negativity, they might have nailed it.