I didn't realize Claire was a picky eater until my best friend pointed it out to me. She said something casual and I was kind of like, "What? She's not a picky eater. That's crazy!" Then I realized I could count almost every item she eats on my two hands and...yeaaaaah. Claire is a very picky eater.
My best friend's daughter is the same age and she will try ANYTHING. Last summer she was eating mussels like they were popcorn. (I DON'T EVEN EAT MUSSELS.)
Claire is so picky, I can list everything she will deign to eat without any risk at all of being tedious:
Tier One (70% of her diet)
Cheese (Cheddar and Colby Jack. NO OTHER CHEESES ALLOWED.)
Bread (includes tortillas, waffles, pancakes and actual sandwich bread)
Fruit (strawberries, bananas, grapes, apples, etc)
Tier Two (20% of her diet)
Tier Three (10% of her diet)
Chicken Nuggets (Unreliably)
Peanut Butter (A new addition to this list, as of two weeks ago)
(Of course, sugars of all kinds of welcome: cookies, cakes, brownies, ice cream, candy, etc.)
That's it. That is basically all she's eaten for the past three years. I have tried, OH HOW I HAVE TRIED, to get her to branch out and perhaps try a green bean or a leaf of lettuce or even an avocado (which she DID eat as a baby, which makes it all the more infuriating). She's also very particular about temperature and format: She will eat cold cheese in a tortilla, but if I heat it up and call it a quesadilla? HELLS NO.
She won't touch lunch meat, hot dogs, ground meat, pasta (except ravioli and, as noted above, not very reliably) or basically anything else that a normal person might call a full and complete meal. Claire is very fond of finger foods she can eat straight from the fridge, I think because it translates into "what you see is what you get." She will eat an actual meal (that is, eating what's offered until she's full), but she often takes a long time to eat it and is easily distracted from the table. She's getting better at sitting at the table until she's finished, but she has never, ever displayed an "I am so hungry I could eat that entire cow!" kind of appetite.
And, as bothersome as this might be to some people, I don't really care.
She's basically a self-selected vegetarian and she seems to prefer whole foods. (It's very Michael Pollen of her, don't you think?) I don't mean that in a hippie-uppity-snobby way, because she will happily eat the hell out of Oreos or any other processed sugary thing. She's just VERY SUSPICIOUS of foods she can't identify that have been blended into something else. For example, a taco is a no-go because she can't see all the parts of it laid out plainly, but she'll happily eat a tortilla and cheese on their own. (Lettuce and meat are already on her Hell No list, so those didn't have a chance.) If I pack a cheese sandwich in her lunch, she's very likely to take it apart and eat the bread and cheese separately, but she'll eat it. She certainly LIKES all of the ingredients in some meals I prepare, but she absolutely won't eat them cooked together and certainly not hot.
I hear about picky eaters and how their parents try to get them to eat other foods through tricky means and smoothie measures and...that is not a tactic for me. (Claire is not going to eat anything resembling a smoothie unless it comes from Sonic and is called a chocolate milkshake.) She is obviously thriving, so that makes it easy for me to say I don't give a crap if she chain eats grapes and toast all day. We try not to do that EVERY day, but I'm definitely not spending a lot of mental space thinking about how to get her to eat some carrots or some steak. I just don't have the energy or desire to fight with her about food if I don't have to, and I suspect that's probably the wrong tactic to take anyway.
As fine as I am with her pickiness, I have always wondered in the back of my head if there was a misstep somewhere on my part, that led her to this very, very selective culinary path. Did I not introduce the right variety of foods, at the right times? Was I not consistent enough?
Then Charlotte came along and ate everything in sight. Everything! With no hesitation whatsoever, my second-born child will eat ANYTHING and if you don't offer your bites to her, she will demand them loudly. Charlotte will throw a fit over the enchilada (with jalapenos!) on your plate and when you give her a bite, she will ask for the entire thing and eat it merrily. Claire never did that. She was extremely snooty about food, even as a baby.
I suddenly realized, in what is surely going to be one of my top-ten no-shit statements of 2012,
"Oh! Some people are just picky!"
I've come to see Claire's food preferences as more of a personality trait rather than a behavior I molded, formed, or influenced. We all know plenty of ADULTS that won't touch a tomato, won't eat green vegetables, and hell, I even have an uncle that doesn't like cheese (I KNOW). I won't eat eggplant or shellfish. We all like what we like and when I meet an adult picky eater? I never, ever, think, "Oh, that person's mother must have only fed her fruit growing up. That's why she won't eat broccoli. What a terrible mother she had."
No. Nobody thinks that.
Perhaps Claire will branch out into delicacies such as spaghetti, hamburgers, or macaroni and cheese over the next few years, but for now I'm happy to make her a cheese sandwich and sliced strawberries every day for lunch (and sometimes again for dinner). She's a picky eater. Whatever.