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!
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.