Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The smug mummy cook book

If I had begun this blog three years ago and had posted a list entitled 'books I am planning to write' (regular readers will know that there is at least one blog called this) then the Smug Mummy Cook Book will have been up there with the best of them. Of course it wouldn't have actually been called that but you get the gist. Three years ago Isla was eight months old and an only child. I was a lot younger (both chronologically, nervously and wrinkle wise), and full of all the idealistic, fantabulous ways that I was going to bring up my children. Oh yes, I had a list, a long one stating all the thing I was never going to do (derived mainly from my fuzzy and uncomprehending childhood memories) and all the things I was definitely going to do (derived from a mish mash of - deep breath - people I admired, parents who had seemed cool at school (even though their child is now in borstal), You Are What You Eat magazine, Super Nanny magazine, made up rules that felt 'right', books including; The way of the Spiritual Child, Get
Out Of My Class Stupid!, The Demon Headmaster, The Fat Ladies Club and of course the What to Expect... books - you've got to get them hitting those milestones.)

To my credit I have, four years later, kept some of them; I have never ever taught Isla or Jack to swear in Punjabi, they hardly ever sleep in our bed except to get off to sleep and in the morning and I'm very strict about it being after 5am, meal times are strictly observed in timing with the Teletubbies, if pudding is eaten first then a promise must be made to eat all of their dinner after, shouting at them, while not strictly banned as I thought it would be, occurs in a timely monthly cycle so they know when to expect it. Wonderful, I'm very very pleased with myself.

Anyway, the cook book. You see the thing I didn't get was the whole hooha surrounding weaning. All the books, magazines, well meaning checkout girls/great-grannies/child nutrition cookery course leaders stressed time and time again about the importance of a varied diet and introducing vegetables first (except for great granny who assured me a lump of coal and a satsuma would be sufficient). I knew that! What I didn't know was how easy it was. The whole fussy eater thing was a big fat myth, propagated by super nanny to sell more magazines. My kids ate it all - garlic split peas? No problem, sprout and liver puree? Bring it on! Not finishing your sliced hamster in door knob sauce? Pass it over! Anything! I was a mummy extraordinaire, to be paraded, heralded, applauded, stuffed and hung above the high chair, well done me. This is the way to do it mums! I wanted to shout, come on, get with the programme! (Oprah had just started showing on freeview), you go girl! (sorry it's really catching). The whole weaning/getting them to eat healthy food was a breeze. Give them no option, put the plate in front of them and spoon it in. No nonsense was the way ahead. Weaning? Job done (Gordon Ramsey was also showing).
I had great plans for that cook book, if only I had the time/energy to put it together. I was going to make a mint. Then Isla turned three. Overnight she went from someone with the future potential to join Overeaters Anonymous, to Super Picker: the Girl With The Appetite of a Sparrow (showing on More 4 at some point). There was nothing, nothing that she liked except ice cream and crisps. Why? Why me? I'd done so well, worked so hard. I'd never outwardly boasted, no that would be crass ,but when friends brought their children over for tea it would often just happen to be roasted sweet potato with a morrell coulis, Isla's favourite (she ate all the other children's so there was no waste really, and they filled up on the guava fruit compote).
So that's it, Isla won't eat anything. Meal times are fraught with bribes, tears, threats of no Teletubbies/ice cream/future. I've tried crying myself, lecturing about osteoporosis, genetic counselling (diabetes is rife in our family) and good old fashioned tying her up and force feeding, but to no avail. Pride comes before a fall as they say and I'm truly humbled, sorry Other Mothers I was far too sure of myself. Never again.
So there it is, no cook book, I should have found the time to do it earlier but I was far too confident it would happen organically. I've learned my lesson, from now on I'm going to seize the day, write it down as it happens, if only I can have one last stab at being really really good at something to do with children. Having said that, Isla does like raw broccoli (dipped in ice cream but still). Hmm maybe those royalties aren't lost after all, Broccoli's a Breeze has a nice cook book ring to it don't you think? I'd best get started, Oprah's choosing her next book club book.

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