Tag: child

Toddler lunch

Kitty will eat perhaps a third of this

I have recently noticed an unusually high number of women confiding in me that their toddler hardly eats anything. “He’s only eaten two of those Organix carrot stick thingies today,” said one on Twitter. “And I bet he won’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.” Others fret about fruit and vegetables. “How,” they whisper, “do you get Kitty to eat vegetables?”

Answer: I DON’T. I read, earlier this year, a book that changed my attitude towards Kitty’s diet and therefore my whole life, as I was so neurotic and anxious about what she ate. The book was called My Child Won’t Eat! by a Spanish nutritionist called Carlos Gonzalez and it is the most brilliant book on childcare I have ever read. And as you can imagine, I’ve read a lot.

He basically says this:

1 It doesn’t matter how much your child eats. Your child is not small and spindly because it doesn’t eat, it doesn’t eat because it is a small and spindly child. You cannot, he says, turn a chihuahua into an Alsatian by making it eat a lot.

2 Your child will naturally, as long as he is given a range of food to choose from, balance his own diet. It might seem like the child eats no fruit or veg, but even a little lick of broccoli here, a nibbled end of carrot there, a tiny bit of apple somewhere else, will fulfill his nutritional needs. The important thing is that fruit and veg are offered, not that they are always finished.

Small children, says Gonzalez, have tiny tummies so they go for very calorific, high energy foods – cake, sweeties, chips, toast, crisps etc; fruit and veg are all very well but they are mostly water and fibre, useless is large quantities to the small stomach.

Children in deprived areas, (like in the Third World), will become malnourished faster than adults because they cannot physically fit enough of the sort of food that is available (vegetation, berries) in their tummies in order to draw out the relevant nutrients and calories.

3 You are very unlikely to be able to cajole, bribe or force your child to eat more than it wants to, to the extent that you will alter the child’s food intake in any significant way.

So, he says, don’t bother. You will only upset yourself and the child.

Put the food in front of the child, let the child/children get on with it for a reasonable amount of time and say nothing about uneaten food. Never try to get more food in than they want. No “here comes the airplane” or “you have to eat this or no pudding” or anything.

“Hurrah!” I screamed, after finishing the book. I threw it over my shoulder, rubbed my hands together and vowed from that day forth not to give a shit about how much Kitty eats.

She gets food, three times a day, with snacks. She gets carbohydrate and fruit and vegetables. But I do not care – DO NOT CARE – how much she eats. I cannot begin to tell you what a release it has been.

And, further, I have now banned any cooking at lunchtimes. She gets a cold lunch every day and she loves it. She has

1 carbohydrate – crackers, bread and butter
1 sort of cheese – chedder, Jarg, Dairylea, mini baby bell, whatever’s floating about
1 veg – carrot sticks, cucumber, baby tomatoes or a bit of sweet pepper
1 dollop of hummous if we’ve got some
1 protein – some leftover chicken, or ham, or a mini pork pie

Then she has some fruit and a biscuit.

And I can’t tell you how great it is not to have to cook or fucking wash up pots and pans at lunchtime as well as dinner time. And there isn’t a big hot lunch stink about the house AND if she’s not in the mood to eat much, you can usually put back the uneaten stuff rather than throw an entire fish-pie-and-rice concoction in the bin.

I feel like women must have felt when they first started doling out the Pill – liberated. I feel, in fact, as relieved as when I confessed to Kitty’s paediatrician Dr Mike, (when Kitty had a fever of 104 for three days), that I was worried that she would get brain damage and he said: “When was the last time you heard of someone getting brain damage from a fever?” And I said “Err,” and he said “Unless you put her, with her temperature of 104, in a sauna, she isn’t going to get brain damage.” And I said “Ok,” and have ceased to worry about fevers, too.

One can wind oneself up terribly about the strangest things, when there are so many better things to get your knickers in a twist over. Like steaming!! I have had the most terrific feedback on my miracle cure and have already this morning dispensed two separate specific steaming instruction miracle cures.

I can die happy.

Bang Bang chicken

I have been sulking a lot recently for an unidentifiable reason.

Maybe it’s the incredibly swizzy unfair weather we’re having. Winter was such a fucking slog this year, what with Kitty not yet walking or watching telly or doing anything remotely compatible with bad weather. All we did was sit around going mad and getting ill, praying for bedtime and lusting after spring. Then spring never came, or summer. We might get a blast in September or October if we’re really lucky but in reality we’re just going to go straight back into winter.

And we’ve done all our holidays this year – we’ve had three already, taking advantage of having a pre-schooler to go away in May, June and early July. We invested, for the holiday, in a preposterous amount of childcare. And on the most recent holiday, to a house in Devon, we had a cook. It wasn’t my idea!! So please don’t have a massive go at me. We were with another couple who work incredibly hard and get paid stupendous wodges of cash and who do not want to assemble salads or wash up when they are on holiday, or stay in a hotel. So we had Cara, the dark-eyed, pink-cheeked 23 year-old Leiths graduate marvel with whom my husband fell passionately in love on the first day.

Anyway it was amazing. But after seven full days of not doing any cooking or much childcare I have come back in this sulk you see before you. I have forgotten how to look after Kitty – and she knows it. She is well aware that I think that if she cries or is in a bait it’s my fault. And at the moment it is my fault because she is incredibly pissed off with me because I have taken away her morning and lunchtime bottle.

There’s this tedious thing when you have children about the amount of milk they have. They fucking love milk, little children, and they especially love it out of a bottle. On the grand scale of things, I think that being attached to your bottle isn’t especially bad, but people get in a right piss about it and say children ought to have all their drinks out of a toddler cup from 1 year on and no more than this amount of milk but no less than this amount of milk.

I couldn’t have cared less about it: Kitty can tell me what she wants, says please and thank you, can sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, doesn’t embarrass me in public and goes to bed at night in her own bed and wakes up at a civilised hour. Thus, anything she wants – a constant stream of rice cakes, Peppa Pig, drawing on the walls, three bottles a day – she can have it.

But then I went to see a paediatrician, who also happens to be my husband’s cousin. I rang him in a complete blind panic two months ago when Kitty had a temperature of 104 and a head-to-toe rash and he was really nice about it. And when I say “really nice” I mean he said “If she isn’t better by tomorrow, give her antibiotics.”

No other fucker will do that for you, when your child is sick. They mimsy about like total utter dildos, saying “Well you could do this or you could do that”. But Dr Mike just told me what to do. So obviously I fell passionately in love with him. When he rang to check up on Kitty and to say that maybe he ought to see her in person I screamed “Yes!” and raced about doing my hair, putting proper shoes on, picking the crud out of Kitty’s ears and ironing her into her Bonpoint.

And when Dr Mike told me that Kitty was having too much milk and ought to drop her multitude of bottle events I meekly nodded and gave him my shy Princess Diana “okay” face, rather than snarling and mentally flicking him a V-sign like I do with everyone else.

Kitty’s not that pleased about this bottle cessation. She rages through the kitchen, rummaging deep in cupboards and drawers until only her dirty little feet are poking out, looking for the few Avents we still having hanging about, assembles one with a shaky, addict’s hand then staggers about sucking hopefully at air before throwing the bottle across the floor and weeping theatrically.

There was an awful lot of weeping yesterday, imprisoned as we were in the house by the rain and we were at each other’s throats. Back when I was reasonably good at childcare, I used to have this thing where when I was was in sole charge of Kitty I would lock away my iPad and only check my emails when she was napping. Otherwise the temptation, like yesterday, to poke the iPad all day and barely focus on the child is overwhelming and she’s not stupid and starts wailing and flinging herself about from a lack of attention.

Christ are you still awake? I’m even boring myself with all this. No wonder I’m in a sulk.

Anyway let’s just leave things there with the weather, back where we started, and move on to a recipe shall we?

I did this last night for my husband and was terrific except that I didn’t use enough vegetables. So if you want to do this, make sure you have 3 parts vegetables – any you like – to 1 part chicken. I ate mostly poached chicken and it was quite strange

Bang Bang Chicken

1 quantity of chicken. It is supposed to be poached and it is supposed to be cold. I did this by poaching an entire chicken; you brown it in oil in a massive casserole whatsit then filling the whatsit with water so that just the top inch of the chicken is visible. Throw in a carrot, a halved onion, some peppercorns, a star anise (??) then put it in the oven for 1hr 45min at 180. Poached chicken is just as nice as roast chicken when it comes to leftovers

A large pile of shredded vegetables – carrots, cucumber, mung beans? sweetcorn? whatever, dressed with:
– a drizzle of toasted sesame oil
– lime juice
– shredded mint

For the bang bang sauce – enough for 2 people.

– 1 tbsp groundnut oil
– 1 tbsp peanut butter
– 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
– 1/2 tbsp dried red chilli flakes
– 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp light soy sauce

Whizz all this up in a food processor

Assemble the salad by layering your vegetables, then the sliced/shredded chicken then the sauce, then sprinkle over some coriander, toasted sesame seeds, chopped chillies. You know the drill.

Luxury potato

There is a time in life that all mothers dread. It’s worse than childbirth, because it goes on for longer, it’s worse than breastfeeding, because it comes out of the blue. It’s worse than looming housework, because housework can at least sometimes be soothing in its mindless repetition.

It’s when your toddler drops their afternoon nap. Because right up until they are about two, or even two and a half (or even three if you’re really lucky) the little suckers go to sleep for up to two hours after lunch, allowing you to do whatever the FUCK you want. I mean, you can’t leave the house, but those two hours are yours, yours, yours and no-one can take them away from you.

The minute your child nods off at lunch also pretty much marks the end of the day because mornings are the hardest work with toddlers. As soon as they’re a-bed, you’ve got two hours to do WHATEVER!!!! and then in the afternoon you can both just doss around eating fingerpaint until bedtime.

It’s hardest on the mother if the child has been doing this nap strictly, in its bed, for 2 hours exactly, pretty much since birth. If you’ve been more relaxed about it, letting the child nap in a buggy while you sail off to, I don’t know, Westfield or something on the overland the transition to no nap is less horrific – you are used to being flexible, you are used to just dealing with every day as it comes.

I am not like that. I am not bendy, like a willow – I am rigid, like an oak tree. Or maybe just doomed, like the ash.

It’s not like I didn’t know that Kitty was going to drop her nap. In fact, I’m surprised she’s kept it up for this long. But now we find ourselves in a mid-nap-dropping slippery patch. She still needs to have a little kip but she won’t pass out in front of the telly and won’t go to sleep in her cot. She will only now nod off in the car, or in her buggy.

Which means I have to go out, somewhere, at about 2pm, so that she will sleep between 2ish and 2.30ish.

As the end of the nap loomed, I dreaded this. But in actual fact, it is oddly freeing.

(And I am lucky – some toddlers suddenly do a thing where if they nod off for even 2 minutes after lunch, they won’t go to sleep until 9 or 10pm at night. Though that could well happen to Kitty I suppose.)

A thing that mothers who choose to be very strict about a routine sometimes complain about is that you are confined to the house, you can’t really ever go out for lunch and you have to rush back from whatever you are doing in the morning so that the child doesn’t fall asleep on the way home and thus ruin completely your two hours of peace. You are in a gilded cage. That’s been me for two years.

So today, for example, as it’s nice and sunny I’m quite looking forward to bundling us both up and going for a very relaxed stroll somewhere – because there is no more relaxing walk to have than when you are pushing a sleeping child in a buggy (and that child is supposed to be asleep). Maybe we’ll go to Primrose Hill? Maybe we’ll go to Hampstead? North West London is our oyster.

In other news, my husband is away in Canda until next week, which means that Kitty and I are even more loose, twisting in the wind really, with nowhere much to go and nothing much to do. We can eat our dinner in a fancy restaurant at a moment’s notice. Or just come home and eat crackers in front of the telly in our pants. Not that my husband ever prevents this sort of spontaneity, you understand, just that it is somehow less likely.

I saw my husband off on his chilly cross-Atlantic adventure with a luxury baked potato, which is a baked potato loaded with sour cream, caviar, chopped egg and spring onions. Not expensive caviar, just lumpfish caviar from the deli fridge at Waitrose – although we did once do this with really expenseive stuff and drank champagne with it; possibly one of the best dinners of my life.

I only learnt how to bake potatoes properly in the last two years or so – I’d never really done it before. What you must do is bake them at the absolute highest temperature that your oven will go for 1 hour – not at 180 for 1hr 15 or 200 for 45 min or any such nonsense. FULL HEAT, 1hour.

Then split, butter, sour cream, caviar (one little pot is enough for 2 people) I boiled egg chopped finely, some spring onion. Whether or not you have champagne too is up to you in that moment. Because, sometimes, there’s nothing quite like just winging it.
 

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