‘I wanna banana!’ said your son.
‘Sorry, sweets, no bananas today.’
The Star frowned. ‘Apple! Me have an apple?’
‘No apples either. We need to go shopping. How about a satsuma?’
‘Yes!’ Cherubic smile of satisfaction. ‘A sat-suma! I yike sat-sumas.’
There are times when you get to feel really smug as a mother, and when exchanges like this happen at top volume on a busy bus, that is one of them.
You feel justified in accepting the accolades that must surely have been rolling in upon you from your fellow passengers. You put a lot of effort into the Star’s food and eating habits. You do a lot of cooking. You do a lot of cooking from scratch. Junk food in your house is pelmeni, Russian style ravioli. You even make your own hamburgers.
As a result you have a son who will refuse fish fingers*, can’t stand ketchup, has only recently discovered fruit juice is nicer than plain water, prefers the bitter dark Russian chocolate to the exceptionally sweet Cadburys and whose favourite foods are apples,** brocoli, tomatoes and home-made chicken noodle soup.*** He doesn’t eat biscuits. Or puddings. Not even with custard. He prefers fruit. He likes smoked salmon, steamed salmon, salmon and broccoli pasta and has never knowingly eaten a chicken nugget.
Of course, given that you can feel anxious about absolutely anything parenting related, you worry about this. Will he, you fret, rebel when he is thirteen, eat a Happy Meal and then consume nothing but McDonald’s for the rest of his life, die at 45 an obese blob as a result of your failure to desensitize him to fatty, sugar laden foods?
But the thing is, it’s not that you ban these things from his life. Every now and again you’ll make a cake and offer him some. He’ll nibble the icing and demand some grapes. You can’t even get him to eat sausages unless you hide them in toad in the hole, which is a shame as you like them.
In fact, it weren’t for the fact that he doesn’t really want to be adventurous, is steadfast in turning his nose up at stuffed peppers and adores ice cream, you’d be tempted to jack in the cooking and buy in a years’ supply of microwavable dinners to redress the balance.
Anyway. This is relevant because, as well as the fact that it doesn’t do to miss an opportunity for a good boast when you are a mother, you are about to wean the Comet.
Which means breaking out the baby rice and having at her with purees and not giving baby led weaning a chance.
Baby led weaning, for the child rearing fashion challenged amongst us, is where you cover the floor, the walls and any siblings in plastic sheeting, plonk a bowl of (unsalted but otherwise unadulterated) spaghetti bolognaise in front of a seven month old, stand well back and let them have at it. And then give them a bath and nuke the kitchen from orbit.
You would find it amusing, and as the Comet already has a good line in lunging for the nearest banana, or trying to face plant in the Rice Krispies, or flinging herself sideways to go after a piece of flying pasta, you doubt you will be able to resist giving her a spoon and a plate of cauliflower cheese sometime very soon, just to see what she makes of it.
But by and large, you don’t want to mess with the magic formula that has produced the Star and his disgustingly well-balanced attitude towards food.
Plus, there is the issue of the mess.
*Unless he’s at his Granny’s. For some reason he likes fish fingers at Granny’s.
**He ate four today. You are not sure this is entirely healthy. And nearly an entire bag of satsumas yesterday. On the other hand, surely this is better than him eating four lots of sweets?
***OK, and crisps. He doesn’t get to eat crisps very often though, so he has stopped asking for them. You save them for situations that call for really big bribes.