Friday, October 16, 2015

picky eaters vs. hunger

The thing about having a picky eater is that it is a pain in the ass, as I said here.

The thing about having a picky eater who also happens to be adopted is that really, the issue is attachment and power and identity and control. Not food.  It's still a pain in the butt, but it's also complicated.

The thing about having a picky eater who also happens to be adopted from Ethiopia is that...

Remember when your mom said, "Finish your dinner, there are starving children in Africa"?...

The truth is that I could say to my daughter, as she cries over her buttered pasta or not-syruped enough pancakes, "Finish that, because your sister in Africa is starving."

Of course, I don't say that. Lily loves her sister in Africa, and I don't want to worry her any more than she already worries about our Ethiopian family.

But I sometimes wish I could. Because her brothers and sisters (and grandparents and cousins and aunties and uncles) are hungry right now. Possibly starving. And here we are arguing over whether she needs to finish her carrots before she can have some crackers.

How do you teach your child gratitude and humility without scaring them? 

I feel like we are often walking a very narrow, not well traveled road. We're raising "third world" children in the "first world."  We're raising children of severe poverty in a comfortable life.  We want them to practice gratitude for the simple luxuries we enjoy - clean water, abundant food, free, great schools, a stable (if pretty nutty right now) democracy, libraries, safe roads, medical care... appreciate it and cherish it, without having to suffer (anymore) the deprivations that their Ethiopian family endure.

There is a drought right now in Southern Ethiopia. Millions of people have watched their crops whither and their cattle starve. It is bad. And our family is living in the middle of it.

We have not told Daniel and Lily about this, because they already worry about our family, and we don't want to cause them more anxiety. We've donated money. We are trying to keep up to date.  We're praying.

And we're practicing gratitude. Because right now there is a pizza pie cooling on our dining room table, and a fridge full of food for tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. As much as I worry about money, or stress over whether Lily is eating enough vegetables, or fret over Daniel's addiction to salsa, we are not hungry.

We are not hungry.

Ethiopia 2014, after the rains

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