Wednesday, April 15, 2009

With apologies to Henri

Wonder twin powers...

... activate!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Here's what the boys ate for dinner last Sunday:

* Grilled kidney
* Dandelion green salad
* Veal loin
* Zucchini

To be fair, they definitely ingested more meat than green things. They are clearly carnivores. Still, I think it is pretty safe to say that they are - at the ripe old age of almost-two - less picky eaters than I am. (Just to be clear - hubby was the cook.)

I suppose the idea of small children eating what many might consider unorthodox (if not unappetizing) meals isn't too crazy an idea - after all, how many of us want to scarf down tiny jars of pureed chicken and carrots? (Not to mention breast milk.) But that is all before they have the power of choice. These days the twins have decided mastery of the word 'no.' And - perhaps even more pertinent - they ask for things they want: "cracker? cookie? cake? snack!"

And yet, they eat almost everything we set down in front of them. With the exception of a higher daily dosage of raisins and rice cakes, they pretty much each what we do. Even broccoli.

So, here's the real question: how long is it going to last? How long until we slink into that deep oil vat of chicken fingers and french fries? How long until we're fighting the battle against monochromatic meals?

My fear is that it is inevitable. All toddlers hate almost all food. And all the anecdotal evidence I've amassed over the years certainly supports that view: meals rejected for their condiments (or lack thereof), menus discarded for 'noodles with butter,' vegetables pushed around plates to the point of wilt.

But maybe there's an alternative. Maybe the boys have inherited some crazy, no-such-thing-as-picky-eating gene from their father. Maybe they are preternaturally conditioned to think of food as the world's most refined extreme sport - anything has the chance to be good, so why wouldn't you try it?

Me? I have to be convinced. Like with those kidneys on Sunday. I gingerly took a bite - having sliced off a tiny sliver from the end, and coupled it on my fork with enough vinegar-soaked leaves to drown out any potentially noxious taste. And phew - it was fine. More than fine. I ate (almost) all of it. I might even try it again. Maybe. To be fair, I have a rough personal history with the kidney as an organ - so my squeamishness is at least understandable. (Although one could think I have even more incentive to chomp my way through them.)

Hubby's way is better - no question. It leaves one open to new experiences, and facilitates finding meals in foreign countries (I did see him demur when offered fried bugs in Thailand, although he's likely to deny it). Hopefully, they'll take after him.

Could we really be that lucky, and bypass the worst of the 'it's just a phase' phases? Or is it all about to come crashing down as the clock strikes midnight on their second birthday?

Regardless, for all the anecdotes I've witnessed as other parents try to wheedle their way through the food pyramid - I haven't witnessed malnourishment. Even if the ketchup bottle is about to take an extended bow, they'll live. We all will.

Except, of course, hubby. He'd have a conniption.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Another shameless plug:

A retrospective of my mother-in-law's work is getting published in May. The book is extraordinarily beautiful - it's being released by an independent publisher that specializes in hand-made books.

Her book is called Increments: Drawings 1970-1995.

You can learn more about the book here or on her own web site.

The publisher is The Crumpled Press - also worth checking out.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Line

Jake is getting interested.

"Pee pee? Potty? Pee-pee in potty? In there?" It's a pretty exciting development. After all, what mother isn't entranced at the idea of a not-quite-two-year-old falling in love with the promise of a toilet?

But, see, well... Jake is interested in everything. He wants to watch others on the potty ("he's in here for the show!" the nanny called through the closed bathroom door the other day.) And, more than anything, he wants to help. He comes in to watch, standing sentry while I keep up my end of the conversation. "Yes Jakey, Mommy is going pee-pee in the potty!" He carefully pulls off a few sheets of paper from the roll - each movement infused with that intense, careful deliberation that is the hallmark of toddler explorations. And he hands me paper saying "Paper? Boom-boom?, which is toddler for "can I help you wipe your ass, mommy?"

Jake's new found toilet fixation has replaced his footwear fetish. I don't mean to say shoes have completely evaporated from the list of fun options (although Zach seems a little more excited to clomp around in Mommy's heels these days.) But gone are the days when Jake scrambles into my lap and tugs at my stockings and the zipper of my boots. (Yep. Fetish. I did not use the phrase lightly.)

Now he's all about the toilet. And, well, helping.

Which, honestly, feels a little, well... weird.

How do I teach my children to navigate cultural norms, but avoid forcing them into rigid, cultural constraints handed down from those Puritans of yore? When does encouragement and openness cross the line to inappropriate? And is that line even relevant for a not-quite-two-year-old with a burgeoning fascination for the porcelain God?

It's not like we don't continue to evolve on things like this as a culture. After all, we can show ankles these days without fear of recrimination (or the stocks). And blood and vomit permeate our entertainment. (Although human excrement doesn't seem to get as many Hollywood minutes.)

But still... we're not fully evolved yet. And I didn't let him help.

"No Jakey. Mommy does that herself. Thank you for trying to help, but people should touch their own private parts." Thank goodness he is only not-quite-two, and didn't immediately jump to the obvious hypocrisy After all, who, exactly changes his diapers? It's not like that's a solo act.

Of course, that's the good thing about twins. When they aren't developmentally in sync, you get a built-in, near-term do-over.

Maybe by the time Zach wants to see the show and lend a helping hand, I'll have figured out how - and where - to draw that line.