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The bronze bacon sandwich: Further, and hopefully FINAL…for a while…thoughts on food

If you were to visit, you might notice a bacon sandwich made of bronze sitting on a shelf. What the fuck IS that, you’d think. You might open it up (it’s hinged!) and think, Yep, it’s really a bacon sandwich made of bronze!

The bronze bacon sandwich

When I was young, my father worked at a foundry that did bronze casting for artists (they bring in a plaster or wax or whatever, the foundry turns it into bronze). Because he had easy access to casting, he cast many of our leftovers in bronze. There’s a pancake stack, an oreo, a fried egg… I’ve always loved these items because of their whimsy and their ties to my childhood, and the bacon sandwich is my favorite (it’s HINGED!). But suddenly I see them in a new light. These were things one of my parents made for us that we declined to eat. If I had a bronze foundry, I could be churning out my own little bronze slices of quiche or piles of pasta! Rather than being disheartening, it made me feel closer to my father, to my young parents, to all parents everywhere.

This It’s a whole circle of life, man reaction is likely because I’m feeling better about the FOOD thing.

Among all the thoughtful and commiserative comments on the previous food post, one in particular stood out for me: “I keep three basic goals in mind: to make things (A) *I* like to eat; (B) requiring minimal preparation and (C) minimal clean-up.”

When I read this, I was like HOLY SHIT, this is what I USED TO DO. At least as far as the making things that I wanted to eat part went. I used to just give Bun Bun what I was having. Then somehow I went down a weird road of making lots of special food for her. I think it started because the nanny brings her own lunch, thus can’t give Bun Bun what she’s having. So I started preparing things, and then she didn’t eat them, and I prepared new things, and over time, I lost sight of the original plan. So after reading that comment (thanks, person who does not appear to have a blog or want me to know about it anyway!), I got the Satter book out and re-read the chapter on toddlers. And then I made myself a cheese sandwich for lunch, and I gave Bun Bun part of it, and she threw it on the floor, and I was not sad at all because she would have done exactly the same thing with whatever item I made special for her, and it was like Epiphany All Over Again YAY! Since then I’ve been feeling much better.

BUT. I feel like the book offers a very nice program…and then scares the shit out of you with a conflicting message about the importance of getting certain nutrients. For example:

1. The book tells you to put meals containing protein, carbs, and fat in front of the child. Message: The child will eat what the child wants, and over a week or so, the child will get what the child needs. BUT. The book also contains charts showing “satisfaction” from consuming various combinations of protein, carbs, and fat in a given meal. The idea is to have an even level, rather than lots of ups and downs, and the best plan for maximizing satisfaction over time is the triad. Message: if a child does not eat protein, carbs and fat in a given meal, he will be a whiny fusspot and make you rip your hair out.

2. The book explicitly warns you against making a big deal out of milk, as that’s a surefire way to clue your child in to the fact that you really want her to drink it, and it will become a power struggle, and that’s the very thing you’re supposed to avoid. Message: Don’t make a big deal out of milk. BUT. The book also says that it’s essential that children drink milk. 16-24 ounces of the stuff a day. Message: Your child will die if she does not drink milk. (I admit to having a personal beef with this one. For, through my interest in experimentation, I have taken a child who drank milk and made one who doesn’t. I decided to have another go at getting Bun Bun to give up drinking milk from a bottle. Last time, I gave up after four days of her refusing it in a cup and went back to bottles. This time I waited about ten days. I offered her milk in a variety of vessels. She refused them all. I began to feel that I was being arbitrary and foolish, and that I should let her give up the bottle in her own time. It had been an experiment, I reasoned, and it was time to admit failure. I gave her a bottle of milk. She refused it. She has continued to refuse it. GOOD WORK, PROFESSOR. Though hey, at least she’s not drinking from a bottle anymore. I WIN.)

3. This one is not Satter’s fault, but a conflict between the book and the attitude of many a pediatrician. Bun Bun was small at birth and our asshole ped of those days scared me good about her weight. She’s still smallish (30th percentile) and it’s hard to let go. The book has a special section for fragile kids (premies, e.g.) and emphasizes that you have to treat them just like regular kids, but even my brief brush with the your child is wasting away mentality has left some scars. I can only imagine what it’s like if your child is fallen-of-the-bottom-of-the-chart-small or spent time in the NICU. So Satter’s message is it will all be okay but every OTHER message seems to be your child is in DANGER!

Interestingly, because of my baby hoarding, I’m getting to experience a contrast in this domain. Bunlet was average at birth, and no-one ever even mentioned how much he lost of what he was at discharge or forced a supplemental nursing system on me. And, he weighed in at nearly FIFTEEN POUNDS at his one month checkup. (98th percentile! WHAT THE FUCK? He’s already wearing the medium size diapers that Bun Bun just grew out of! I basically made enough baby substance for a whole other baby out of mere breastmilk!) And people keep figuratively slapping me on the back for my big fat baby. Message: FAT BABY GOOD, tiny baby your own personal failure.

The good news is, Bulet can starve himself all he wants when he’s a toddler.

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Holy CRAP. Your one-month-old is almost as big as my 10 month old! (Yeah, he would be one of those kids at the WAYYYYY bottom of the chart)

    As for the milk drinking: I come at it as a mama to a food allergic kid and a human who has never kept a gallon of milk in the house. Kid will not die if kid doesn’t have milk. You just need to find other ways to get liquid/protein/fat/calcium into her. And while this creates it’s own stresses, I think it’s important to remember that MILK is a cultural expectation, not a biological necessity.

    Way to grow Bunlet!

    October 2, 2012
    • ana #

      Yes, your baby is growing like a champ! I have a 5th percenter, weighing all of 18 lb at his one year checkup. He is ALREADY picky. Plus the picky toddler. I have completely given up. I offer, they: put in hair, throw on floor, make into tiny pieces and ground into rug, or feed to dog. We make what we want to eat, in portions that we want to eat, and just give little pieces to them. They will eat and grow, or waste away. At the least, if they become malnourished, they will lose the energy to throw spectacular tantrums which will be a win for me. Saturday, the only thing B ate was crackers for a snack and a chocolate cupcake at a birthday party. Which he threw up in the car on the way home. Then I felt bad and gave him more crackers.
      It does help me to remember how bad my little sister was, and how she drove my mom to tears with her lack of eating. She has grown up, started eating like a normal human, and now is driven to tears by my niece and nephew. Circle of life indeed.

      October 2, 2012
  2. Its. Its.

    I need to sleep.


    October 2, 2012
    • I KNOW. I just sent a student an e-mail with your in place of you’re. And I’ve only been on your sleep schedule for six weeks. You poor thing.

      October 2, 2012
  3. SRB #

    So, I open my reader, see this picture right at the top and pretty much throw up in my mouth a little but. Then I realized it was not a *real* sandwich, then I read the story behind it and got all mushy. It was a whirlwind 60 seconds of emotion!

    Ah, conflicting messages. I think this is why I try not to read any (erm… many) parenting books. My kid is 5-10th percentile, and my ped is fine with it as he has always been on this curve. It took me a while to stop comparing him to the kid born a week earlier who is now 8 lbs heavier.

    Funnily enough, I also went back to just giving HGB what I was eating rather than something special in a special bowl and all that jazz. And he even EATS some of it! He actually took his own bites off my sandwich today. VICTORY IN OUR TIME. I got the idea from this instructional post from a leading authority on toddler development:

    October 2, 2012
    • SO FUNEEEE! Though once you start breasfeeding your new fish, you will be like NO! MINE! GET YOUR OWN FUCKING ENGLISH MUFFIN! GROWL! Also, mmmm cucumbers with salt and vinegar.

      October 2, 2012
  4. Thank god for you and your damn reassurance. And yes, he probably will starve himself as a toddler but it’s all good because those fat rolls he’s putting on will sustain him when he doesn’t eat or drink jack shit and runs around like a crazy all day.

    My prob with giving Bee the same food we eat is my outright refusal to give up dairy completely. Sorry kiddo, you can kiss my ass on that one. So it takes a bit of work, but he’s fine and your perspective adds to that sentiment. Also, just read they have made a hypoallergenic cow, not in wisconsin, but none-the-less there is hope.

    I thought at first your bronze sandwich was something you made and forgot about, but I love it. Your Dad must have a great sense of humor.

    October 2, 2012
  5. Stevie was also around 15 lbs at 5 weeks. And he is not fluffy as his brother was, no, he is sturdy and heavy.
    George dropped from 80 % to 30-40 I think. I refuse to look up the numbers, I got scared enough. The doctor said he was fine. So I trust him.
    Funnily enough, since we’ve been to the doctor, he started eating better. Also, curiously, from my plate. What I eat. Except cheese (he never liked cheese, used to spit it out even when he was eating everything else). And if he is having milk in a bottle, he won’t eat anything else. So he has some in a cup, around 5 oz a day. He eats yoghurt. And butter.
    I cannot force him to eat. Even if I wanted to, I just can’t. So it is better to just let him be. And hope he won’t drop any further on the growth charts. Hope that this is his type. Long and lean. And he will grow to have a normal relationship with food.

    October 2, 2012
  6. Man, it is so true about the tiny and fat baby praise differential. I spent quite a lot of time walking around this neighborhood with the Dane’s baby, so I knew just what I was missing when walking around with my 5th%ile one. And then there are the people who decide to ask if you are Worried.

    My new food theory is that I’m going to try not to think about it at all again, ever. Nothing works.

    Happy to have been of help.

    Meanwhile, the bronze food just made me love your dad a whole, whole lot. I wish he were around to make quiche casts. Xo

    October 2, 2012
  7. Oak #

    Holy shit, Bunny. We should sit down and have a round table discussion about toddlers and (the lack of) eating.

    And by round table I mean drinking wine someplace with our feet up.

    Last night after two days of trying AGAIN to subscribe to the feed my kid what i am eating and he will eat when he gets hungry enough, I spent two hours with a SCREAMING kid from 11 to 1am.

    Fuck that. He’s getting bananas and gold fish tonight and I’m getting some damn sleep. I figure I will have have the food battle when he actually has WORDS.

    And I need a nap.

    October 2, 2012
    • Well shit, if you’re eating bananas and goldfish, then you can maintain the “he eats what I eat approach”. Problem = solved. Enjoy getting scurvy!

      October 2, 2012
    • I’m sorry this is happening, but at the same time, GAWD it’s nice to hear it isn’t just happening at my house. Do these purists not care about their own sleep? I don’t get it.

      October 2, 2012
  8. I cannot believe people are commenting on toddler eating behaviors when there is a picture of a BRONZED BACON SANDWICH IN FRONT OF THEM. I mean, seriously?! That is the coolest thing ever. And the fact that you have a bronzed stack of pancakes sitting on your mantel (or at least somewhere in your house, please tell me its not hidden away in a box, a treasure like that!) on top of it all, I mean, really, such a cool family story.

    I love Satter’s book but found that whole “they’ll do fine, don’t worry” / “they MUST eat this much of x, y, and z” nutrient contradiction slightly discombobulating. My girls drink far less than 16-24oz of recommended milk a day. More like 4oz each. Suddenly I’m counting calcium mg and fat grams and protein grams and everything else simply because they won’t drink milk. Well hey, give them fortified orange juice, except, you know, not more than 4oz of juice a day. Better give them fat, but not too much cheese because, you know, you don’t want the hard poopies. And on and on and ON.

    I want to be the kind of parent who doesn’t read books or think too much about these things and just feeds my kid spaghetti and Coke because THAT, my friend, sounds like the good life.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better about the food thing. Truly. That is some good news to hear.

    October 2, 2012
  9. That bacon sandwich is fantastic. Wish I could get one for my husband.

    Nice to read your info. We’re currently in a new phase of food trouble where the older child is happier to eat things (sometimes even if he doesn’t like it) but younger child has been known to take one look at her plate and burst into tears. Tackling the household menu is my project for this month, and by and large I am trying to ignore my daughter’s fickle and limited preferences, but it’s still a major source of stress at the end of the day.

    I like the idea of making stuff the rest of us like with minimal preparation and minimal clean-up… but there are some things I’d like to eat that take longer to make and are a pain to clean up and cause instant screaming. Especially if they’re one of our more nutritionally balanced meals (last night’s curry being a prime example of all of the above).

    Oh, and my son is a slow eater, which is almost as bad as refusing to eat.

    Regarding fat babies, my son was always in the low percentile but he was so stockily built, it wasn’t that noticeable and once my doctor assured me he was growing fine, it never bothered me. My daughter’s generally in the 85th percentile for weight, and every now and then I read something on child obesity and freak out. She’s tall with it, and she doesn’t *look* fat to me–not dainty either, but just proportionate. So generally I don’t worry. But there are those rare occasions when unhealthy paranoia sets in. Grah.

    October 3, 2012
  10. Jenny F. Scientist, PhD #

    I just want to say, Bug refused to drink milk (or eat vegetables) for a full YEAR AND A HALF. I gave him fortified yogurt and a chewable vitamin and refused to worry about it.

    October 3, 2012
  11. Nicole #

    Nice post. My second baby was average size when born but skinny as she gets older. you might want to check the WHO breastfed charts they are different. On that chart my skinny kid is actually 40% weight instead of 20% on the old charts. The WHO goes to 24 months and the old one goes to 36 months.

    October 3, 2012
  12. A bronze bacon sandwich??? An oreo cookie? Your dad sounds like he was awesome. I’m glad that you are feeling that connection with him through these trials of Bun Bun throwing food and instead of eating it.

    Ok, so I was all set to buy this Satter book, but after your latest review, I’m having second thoughts. Conflicting messages indeed.

    Since percentiles are my bread and butter, I must be obnoxious and chime in that the 30th percentile is fully wihtin the Average range on a bell curve. Smallish would be the 12th. Obnoxious duty = done.

    Seriously, I’m glad that you are feeling better on the food issue. I’m sure Bunlet’s weigh-in must have boosted morale all around.

    October 3, 2012
    • Huh, good point. I guess we are biased to think of anything under 50 as small. Bun Bun is average!

      October 3, 2012
  13. Jen #

    Bronzed bacon FTW. Please plan to have this work of art incorporated into your headstone or something equally profound because, bronzed bacon.

    October 3, 2012
  14. I was going to offer the stats nerd perspective, but Augusta beat me to it.

    I can’t get over that bacon sandwich! With a hinge! What a treasure. I want a brass foundry to make apples and pieces of toast with one bite taken out of them.

    I’m glad that Bunlet is a good eater, but I’m steamed that anyone ever gave you any crap about Bun Bun.

    October 3, 2012
  15. That bronze sandwich is the coolest thing.

    (But what warped person won’t eat a bacon sandwich?? If my kid refused that, I’d probably eat it myself, rather than cast it into bronze. Then again, the cache of having a bronze bacon sandwich — with a hinge! — might outweigh things.)

    I hear you on that “your child is wasting away” mentality. Gwen wasn’t particularly small when she was born — 3.35kg, .05kg more than my midwife had estimated 4 days prior, I was quite impressed — she lost more weight than the kraamzorg (maternity nurse that visits for 4-8 hours every day the first 8 days after birth) wanted to see and didn’t gain it back as quickly as she should, and then when she was about 5 days old we went from 12:30am-8:00am without successfully nursing, and about 5 hours in to that I’m sobbing in bed “if she doesn’t eat, she’ll DIE”, and that was when Joel suggested that then, if any time, was the time to exercise the “call any time you’re worried” right the midwives gave.

    We only lasted one more week nursing. Her growth curve took a bit of a jump between months 2 and 3, though it’s stayed nicely on track or fallen off a bit since then, but she definitely went from “average” to “sturdy”, especially since she’s always been on the short side (~75-80% weight + ~45% height = ~90% weight for height!). She’s still at the stage where she’ll eat anything I put in front of her (except oatmeal), and I’m cherishing it since I know it won’t last forever.

    October 4, 2012
  16. Twangy #

    The bronze sandwich is a thing of beauty. What a genius your father was. That is all.

    Well, it’s not, actually, I also offer sympathies on the feeding and applaud the challenging of conventional wisdom. Good on you. These comments are brilliant, too. This is what is helpful.

    October 5, 2012
  17. OK, I just can’t get past why anyone wouldn’t eat a bacon sandwich. Coolest Dad ever! And now I want a bacon sandwich – a real one, not bronze… With tomatoes, and avocados…. hungry…

    Anyway, I’m half way through the Satter book after seeing all you lovely ladies rave about it, and I do find it confusing in some sorts. I really like the idea of feeding the kiddo whatever we eat. My husband for some reason doesn’t like eating leftovers, so I love feeding Alex our leftovers from whatever meal we had the night before. Because of work schedules, my husband and I eat after Alex goes to bed, but the next night she has whatever we had. I love it – she’s our own personal trash compacter! I’m sure the picky stuff will come out at some point, but so far we’ve been extremely lucky. Glad to hear your attitude about the whole thing is getting better, and yay for a fat baby!!!

    October 6, 2012
  18. Wow, I love the bronze bacon sandwich! And the hinge! And agree with the perplexed commenters above who are confused about how a bacon sandwich could ever become a leftover. I’m a vegetarian of 15 years and ate some of Tadpole’s leftover BLT last summer when he refused to eat it because I “didn’t want it to go to waste” (Really, I just wanted some bacon. Yum.)
    I agree that Sattler’s charts and numbers and things are overwhelmeing (and contradict her other messages). My solution has been to ignore them.
    In terms of the milk thing, does BunBun eat other dairy products? It seems like thse would cover the same nutritional bases.
    In terms of the pediatrician stuff, what does your current (hopefully non-asshole) ped say?
    So glad you’re feeling better about food.

    October 11, 2012
  19. quintain #

    so glad my comment spoke (or resonated or whatever) to you.

    October 12, 2012
  20. You had me at the bronze bacon sandwich. (With hinge!) Gold! (Or, err, bronze.)

    October 16, 2012

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