An Excerpt from ‘Man vs. Child: One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting’ by Doug Moe

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WHAT WILL TODDLERS EAT?

Food used to be one of your top five things—remember brunch?—but toddlers ruin food. You try to serve them healthy things, lovingly crafted, only to see them reject or smash them. Just a short bit ago, you were trying so damned hard to get them off the bottle, and now eating is all drama.

They Won’t Eat Healthy Food. When you were a kid, “food” used to mean PB&Js alternating with mac ’n’ cheese and Froot Loops. Fine for you, perhaps, but for your precious child, this will not do. Now you must buy organic. Now you must pretend that grapes are dessert. Broccoli used to come with a cheese sauce. Kale wasn’t even invented yet.

When thinking about food, it’s good to bear in mind the big picture: You want your kid to eat. She must eat. And you must get her to eat, even if that means hiding something healthy under delicious cheese sometimes.

A Toddler’s Palate Is a Moving Target. Toddlers don’t want that. They want something else. And when they get that, they don’t want it! Toddlers like a bunch of small plates: maybe a few carrots; a little pile of noodles; some kind of new, expensive organic snack. Whatever it is you think your kid likes, don’t get attached—she will decide she hates it soon.

They Want Snacks. Any meal presented with enough import is likely to be rejected. Snacks are like a more casual meal. Toddlers love snacks. Since every dumb thing has to be cut up anyway, might as well get over this and accept that “snacks” are what your toddler will eat.

They Want Finger Food. Finger food gets picked up. Then it gets mashed and thrown. It can be horrible to witness and even more horrible to wipe off. But utensils are merely catapults for longer distance flinging.

God Forbid You Are Also the One Who Prepares Meals. Are you a wonderfully enlightened dad who prepares the meals? Wow, good for you. It’s so great that men are sharing in what used to be “women’s work.” Sadly, you will also get to know the “women’s heartache” of watching your lovingly prepared meals declared “yucky” and “no, NO, NO.”

FOOD CAN BE FUN (SOUNDING)

Toddlers are fussy eaters. A tried-and-true method of getting your kid to eat something is to make it “fun!” That’s why they are called chicken nuggets, not “chicken necks and gizzards.” Get your kid to eat with some of these renamed classics.

Pigs in a blanket: a hot dog in a pastry shell

Pigs in a sleeping bag: a hot dog in a slab of whatever bread you have

Thomas the Tank Engine derailment: hot dogs piled up next to mashed potatoes

Stonehenge: hot dogs randomly strewn on a plate

Bigfoot’s log cabin: hot dogs stacked in a pile

Dog fight: pile of hot dogs

Monster boogers on a magic carpet: Pirate’s Booty on a slice of American cheese

Pile of ants: raisins

Amazonian Deforestation: broccoli

Weird poo: baby carrots

Baby carrots: normal carrots

Chicken nuggets: chicken nuggets

Mashed yucky dirt sauce: hummus

Princess trumpets suffering under a cheese curse: mac ’n’ cheese

Man vs. Child (Abrams Books) is available everywhere.

Doug Moe is an actor, writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, New York, the epicenter of the artisanal mustache renaissance. He’s a longtime performer and instructor at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. On TV, you’ve maybe seen him on Inside Amy Schumer, 30 Rock, or Difficult People, among other places. He writes a featured Tumblr blog about being a dad at Man Vs Child. He’s written for McSweeney’s, Funny or Die, Gawker, and others.

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