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Meredith Lopez Headshot

Parenting: Feeding My Frankenstein

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There's been some confusion on this blog about the Juban Princeling - that's not his real name, and we do not call him that at home. My son's nickname at home is the Kraken because he is a giant, omnivorous sea monster.

One night when he was two months old he drank a forty of formula in about 10 minutes. We put him to bed fully expecting him to go through a massive growth spurt during the night and kick out the slats of his crib. And thus our little "Kraken" was born.

The men in my family are known for being exceptionally tall; my brother, Mr. Funny, is the runt at 5'11". I have 13 cousins and I'm the shortest of all of them except for the 10-year-old.

So far my son is on track to follow in the footsteps of his male family members, at least the ones on my side. He's in the 95th percentile for his height/length as of his last checkup a few weeks ago. He's taller than nearly every other kid his age and most who are older than he is. What's more, he EATS like it, too.

Recently at our playgroups talk has turned to what our kids are eating now that they are off formula or are in the process of being weaned off the breast. Nearly every other mom I know has complained of her kid going through an eating strike at some point or other, or going days at a time only eating one food. So far, knock wood, we have not had that problem with the Juban Princeling. He eats everything in sight. He'd eat his own clothes if he could, and it's not for lack of trying that he doesn't. If he had more than two teeth I'm sure he'd tear through his socks and pants. He grazes on our living room rug. No, I mean, he grazes like the rug is there for that purpose. He pulls up carpet fibers and gnaws them. He's become so deft at it that Husband and I no longer try to fish pieces of carpet out of his mouth (remember those two teeth I just mentioned? They are sharp and hurtey, and also we do not want our little cutie pie to develop a taste for human flesh.) and focus instead on catching him in the act.

I know I should be grateful that my son is such a good eater, and I am grateful. He's the only toddler I've ever heard of who likes spinach. I don't even like spinach. He loves lemon and pepper flavored tofu "chick'n" tenders. He prefers whole grain toast to the Toddler Mum Mum rice crackers we buy him. He likes pieces of my roast beef sandwich, with lettuce and Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. We had no problem switching him from formula to whole milk because he freaking LOVES it. When we give him a sippy cup of whole milk, he'll sit and suck it allllll down in one pull.

I hear other moms talk about having to hide their toddlers' veggies in melted cheese or pureed fruit. That's not really an issue in the Lopez household. Since the Princeling was a baby, if we give it to him he'll eat it. We learned long ago that the Princeling, unlike other kids, never really developed a mechanism that tells him when he's full. He'll keep eating until he throws up, and for that reason we have to carefully monitor how much we give him to eat. The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Caring for Your Baby and Young Child (the only baby book I still reference) says that at this age all his major growth spurts are slowing down until adolescence, and therefore he might not be as hungry as he was as an infant. Ha! Clearly they've never met my son. He still has the appetite of five grown men, and we have the grocery bill to prove it. Over the weekend we went to the park, and before leaving the house we gave him lunch. He ate an entire meatball, a piece of toast, an entire slice of Swiss cheese, some bites of tuna fish, several pieces of my roast beef sandwich, and a few large grapes and chunks of pear. I cut up more grapes to bring to the park as a snack. But I made a fatal mistake: I let the Princeling see the grapes I packed into a small Gladware container. The whole way there he kept turning around and reaching for them, so I'd give him a few pieces at a time. He ate them all - at least five or six very large grapes' worth - in the time it took to go from our house just a few blocks to the park.

Having grown up with Mr. Funny, who in college was 5'11" and just 130 pounds yet ate like it was his job, I know what's in store for us. Mr. Funny used to come home from school and make himself one snack while his frozen pizza was cooking in the oven, and he still had an appetite for dinner. Our mother used to say it wasn't "Is Mr. Funny hungry, it's how hungry is he." She loves to tell people how she had to wean him off her breast at just three months because she wasn't producing nearly enough milk to keep him satisfied.

At the rate he's growing, my son and I will be eye-to-eye when he enters the third grade, and he'll tower several feet over me at his Bar Mitzvah. By then my husband will have had to get a second, and possibly third job, and I'll be working several jobs myself, just to afford enough food to keep him from eating us.

This Thanksgiving, I know what I'm thankful for: I'm thankful that I have a healthy, happy little boy who eats so well. And on Thanksgiving I'm going to toss him a turkey leg and stand back, lest my fingers end up casualties of the Kraken's insatiable appetite.

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