I can’t run out of ham, mountain bread or Jatz

1 Feb

My son Giovanni started pre-school on Monday. He’s turning four in two weeks. I can’t believe four years has gone by since he was born. We’ve been together every day and I’m sad to see him go, even though he only attends two days a week. He is so ready for school. He doesn’t have any kids his age in his life on a regular basis and I was so happy when I saw him playing with another child when I picked him up on Monday.

He’s attending a community pre-school that focuses on preparing children for primary school. There are no naps and we have to pack their food for the day. The centre he attends is strict. We were given a list of healthy foods to choose from to pack our children’s food. It’s a short list, well it’s short for me.

Giovanni is my fussy eater. His older brother and younger sister eat mostly everything I put before them including carrot sticks, bowls of cooked cabbage and fresh fruit. Giovanni doesn’t touch any of that. He also doesn’t eat any vegetable, any fruit and I’m ashamed to say there’s only two foods on the list I know he will eat.

Day one and I want my little boy to have a great first day at pre-school so I pack him some of his favourite foods. For morning tea I packed him some Jatz and a fruit cup (sometimes he’ll slurp the juice out of them). For lunch I packed him a ham wrap and more Jatz. When I picked him up they told me he hadn’t eaten his fruit cup. They covered it in cling wrap and put it back in his lunch box. It leaked all over his bag. They were punishing me for having a child who doesn’t eat fruit. I was a little embarrassed and a little frustrated so on day two I packed him foods he doesn’t normally eat.  I thought he’d be so hungry that he’d eat them or at least try them. For morning tea I packed him a banana and Jatz and for lunch I packed him a Vegemite sandwich and more Jatz. When I picked him up I was told Giovanni ate some Jatz at morning tea but refused to touch his sandwich or his Jatz at lunch time. They told me to pack foods he likes. I wish it were that simple.

I tried to expand his food choices before school began. I offered him sandwiches but he kept telling me they weren’t ‘cooked’. He’s so used to toasted sandwiches that he doesn’t know what to do with a normal one. He loves nuts but you can’t send nuts to pre-schools and primary schools due to allergies. That also rules out Nutella which not only contains nuts but is not on the healthy foods list. Toasted sandwiches will be stone cold by lunch time so I can’t pack him that. He likes pasta but not cold as a salad. He eats two minute noodles but that’s not allowed either and will also be too cold for him. The only fruit he consumes is 100% apple juice but they’re only allowed to drink water at school. I’m tearing my hair out. I pick him up with juice and Healtheries Potato Sticks waiting for him in the car because I know he’ll be starving and being Italian makes me frantic that he’s not eating enough.

His day goes something like this…100% apple juice for breakfast with honey toast on wholemeal, morning tea is potato sticks or Jatz, lunch is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich on wholemeal with carrot sticks or apple slices on the side that he usually ignores. Afternoon tea is normally more juice followed by more fake food with is ‘healthy’ but not natural. Dinner is where I do my best work. I have become so good at hiding vegies. I grate zucchini into everything from pasta to pizza sauce. He loves chicken and I always bake him vegetables which he likes me to put on his plate but ends up ignoring. He wasn’t always like this. He used to eat rice, apples, bananas, potatoes (sometimes he eats these). It’s torture.

He likes plain Cruskits. He loves cupcakes (I hide apple puree in them). Chicken rissoles are a favourite (zucchini). He will try mashed potatoes which I have mixed with a little cauliflower. Every day is a struggle. I keep offering and he keeps refusing. He sees his brother and sister eating all these foods but still won’t touch them.

Maybe if I got rid of all his favourite foods he’d be forced to try others but I can’t bring myself to do this to him. There was a week where he ate yoghurt tubes but he won’t touch them now. He eats green jelly. Is it time to buy Jessica Seinfeld’s cook book Deceptively Delicious? Beetroot in chocolate cake? I’ll think about it.

My oldest son will eat a bowl of cabbage and steamed artichokes with me. My little girl loves chicken and vegetable soup and carrot sticks. I’ve raised them all the same. He eats lemon sorbet. That has fruit in it, right?

Do I sound as desperate as I feel? Don’t answer that.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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