With babies, food is simple: it’s just very messy. We did baby-led-weaning which means avoiding spooning mush into them and pretty much letting them feed themselves with whatever we happened to be making for ourselves that meal. They fed themselves, their bibs, their chairs, the table, the floor and anything within a 2-metre radius. Messy.
With toddlers, food is less messy, but it is complicated. As the messiness subsides, the complicatedness increases – mathematically, it is a case of negative correlation.
For us, it probably started with a mild unwillingness to try new foods. But other issues arose. Like the problem of foods mixing on the plate or contaminating each other. Porridge must be served flat. VERY flat. Where relevant, food items should be served whole: chopping constituent parts to cool them or prevent them being a choking hazard can be hazardous in itself.
Some foods are always edible. Butter, for example, which is best consumed in isolation and in quantity, ideally straight from the packet in large bites. I would consider placing a bet on Willow’s ability, given fifteen minutes to locate (and consume) a raisin in any room. Chips trump anything and the wily toddler having finished his or her own portion in seconds, will develop a range of tactics designed to separate other, more naïve diners from their own share. I’m sure it wasn’t coincidence that a fairly rare occurrence of the word ‘please’ arose in the sentence “Willow, please may I have your chips?’ Willow meanwhile, fearing their imminent loss, rammed all five chips on his plate into his mouth at once.
All of this is further complicated by friends and relatives occasionally coming out with ridiculous old classics like “you can’t have any pudding until you’ve eaten your main course”, as if pudding is some sort of reward for making it through the drudgery of savoury food.
And amidst the imperious demands of “I want…!” and the horror-stricken cries of “Don’t cut it up…!”, I wonder…messy, then complicated…then calm and straightforward? Somehow I doubt it.