I can’t walk by a mirror and not be reminded that I have become my mother, and no where is that more the case than when I fret over what to serve for dinner, and anticipate the battle that inevitably arrives when I neglect to serve peas. My journey into the kitchen started with Annabel Karmel’s cookbooks, I slaved over roasted swede, smoked salmon, minced pears and mashed parsnip for years, doing everything I could to ensure that my children would not be burdened with the hardship of being a picky eater. I delighted in watching them devour foods that I turned my nose up as a child and praised my efforts as a masterful parent….until my son Sawyer turned 2 and decided that he would only eat peas. The turn of events was so sudden, and so offensive that I questioned my parenting skills and secretly wept after every meal plagued by the curse that I had most certainly passed down to him. My little boy who once clapped his hands over being served mash potatoes and gravy had turned his mouth into a steel trap that would only open for peas.
I consulted doctors, friends, family and even strangers in the grocery store seeking a cure, only to be told countless times that he would grow out of it, that children who are hungry will eat anything and to not give into his sudden devotion to peas. But alas, I knew better (but of course) after all I spent my childhood living off of saltine crackers, white rice and buttered pasta. I remember my mother’s frustration, embarrassment and agony that my picky eating ignited. And was reminded of that parental agony when I overheard a conversation between a father and his teenage daughter on a flight from LA to London around the same time I was struggling with my own toddler eating battles. He was in tears, distraught and begging his daughter to just try something. She in turn was equally as frustrated, feeling unheard and alienated by her struggle with food. It was that conversation that brought my feelings full circle, and reminded me that just as I am emotionally entangled with the journey to get Sawyer to eat, he too is striving to come to terms with his relationship with food, and only together can we find a path that will bring us together rather than tear us apart.