Before I had a kid, I gave little consideration to what children consumed. Stupidly, I thought kids ate the same things as everyone else. You know, truffle fries, French onion soup, green chile enchiladas, Mapo tofu. How wrong I was.
I had no idea that kids were so sensitive to tastes, textures, and smells of food. I had no idea all the things that could go wrong with a meal, and I certainly didn’t realize that “kid food” was its own unique genre. I also didn’t know that “kid food” could be so fraught with emotion, especially for parents. I didn’t know there would be foods that would practically inspire my soul to violence and that I would be in good company with this.
For a variety of reasons, here are the nine “kid-friendly” foods that moms and dads hate the most …
1. Cheese crackers of any kind
All of them: the fish, the organic rabbits, the ones that your kids call “Jesus.”
These things, while indisputably delicious, are also evil, infinite crumb generators. They are the culinary equivalent of glitter. You just had a baby? Congrats. You get about a year reprieve before spending the next 17 years (at least) with your house, your minivan, the insides of your purse, and pretty much your entire being coated in orange crumbs.
I’m pretty sure that I will be buried with a Goldfish stuck in my cleavage and Cheez-It debris in my hair.
2. Chicken nuggets
Every time you feed your child chicken nuggets, a hawk swoops from the sky and rips a baby bunny from her nest. And it’s all your fault. At the same time, whenever you feed your kids chicken nuggets, they’re eating something other than endless permutations of cheese and carbs, and yay, it’s protein.
Except Jamie Oliver doesn’t approve. Except, you swore you’d never, ever be that mom who feeds her kids chicken nuggets. In the shape of freaking dinosaurs, no less.
Warning: These things cause self-loathing.
Here is the thing with pizza. All pizza is good. Even the worst pizza is still at least close to delicious. Unless you are a child. Which means that your brain hasn’t developed enough to realize that all of the pizzas are wonderful, instead of only the one kind of pizza that you arbitrarily deem acceptable.
This is why moms hate pizza — too much can go wrong and cause a potential meltdown. It can be cut into squares (blasphemy), there can be a bubble, it can have microscopic green things hiding in the sauce. It can have sauce period, or worse yet, whole tomatoes, or the cheese can be too brown.
All of these possible variables in pizza-ness can incite a tantrum, which results in starving hangry children and you know what happens next. Mom has to eat all the pizza that her offspring won’t touch, because it is a mortal sin to waste a slice of pizza. So then calories, and fat, and carbs, and gluten, and oh my god this is so tasty I need more.
4. The organic field greens someone else’s toddler is eating
Good for you. Round of applause, perfect parent. I’m sure you grew those greens and fertilized them with your leftover placenta that you ate under the light of a full moon right after your orgasmic home birth. I hate you because I’m jealous.
Yes, I tried all those techniques that you are smugly telling me I should have tried, and no, my kid still won’t eat arugula. I hope when your children go to college that they rebel and eat nothing but cheeseburgers, Captain Crunch, and Coronas.
I am ashamed to admit that I have given in to the despotic demands of a miniature human being who insisted that every single hole in the waffle be filled with visible butter (that means not melted) and syrup. But at least the maple syrup was real, people. At least I have that and I can say that my syrup came from a real tree somewhere in the idyllic Vermont countryside and not a wicked corn factory in the Midwest.
6. Granola bars
Because there is only one unbroken one in the entire package and that is the only one your child will eat. Except that one has been in the side pocket of your purse for six months and is now also broken, which means NO MOMMY. INEDIBLE. So you are left with nothing but a sad pile of oat rubble.
7. All meals served by grandparents
Thanks, mom and dad. I really wanted three preschoolers jacked on sugar because you decided that caramel was an acceptable beverage and that they could each have their own chocolate cream pie to eat with a serving spoon in the middle of the living room floor while they watched YouTube videos on the iPad that we didn’t want them to have in the first place.
Also, who are you people?? When I was growing up you forced us to sit at the table and eat cauliflower. Remember how you wouldn’t even let us have Apple Jacks? You made us eat Grape Nuts! What happened to you?
8. Cheese sticks
Because you have to meticulously “string” them for your kids. Because they are absurdly expensive. Because nine out of 10 are impossible to open. Because sometimes they smell weird and you can’t be sure they’re not spoiled. Because they are only fit to eat for two seconds after being removed from the refrigerator before they turn oily and flaccid, and look like they need a prescription for Viagra.
9. Birthday cake
It’s never good. It always looks good, but rarely does it actually merit the calories. Yet, you eat it anyway. Yet, birthday cake is an unfortunate staple of your diet regardless. You can’t not eat the birthday cake.
You tell yourself, “I will go to this party and I will only eat the baby carrots and hummus. Maybe I will pack myself something organic and low carb.” But you still eat the birthday cake. And you go to at least one birthday party every single week. You cannot escape the birthday parties. In your worst nightmares you are being chased by a giant, grocery store sheet cake with anthropomorphized automobiles all over it, and even in your sleep you end up eating the damned thing.
Now excuse me, because I have to go vacuum up all the orange crumbs matted into my carpets. After that, I have to try to figure out what to make for dinner that contains none of the above items. Oh who am I trying to fool anyway? I’m heating up some chicken nuggets. Shh, don’t tell anyone.More On