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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Speaking of bananas...

My son eats three foods. And this is making me insane.

Okay, maybe a little more than three. Here’s the list. Anyone who’s not a parent is signing off right abouuut… now, so without shame I can show the rest of you…

Everything My Son Will Ingest:

Milk and soy milk






American cheese

Macaroni and cheese

Ricotta cheese with pasta (but only certain shapes, and those rules change all the time)

Ravioli (sometimes, and you will never know when



Hummus (when he’s feeling generous)

All forms of pudding

Ice cream (duh), cookies (dar)

And that’s it! And don’t think I’m forgetting something. “Surely pizza!” you might say, but no, not pizza. “What about bagels? Every kid loves bagels!” Not my kid. Shut up.

I know this is a control thing. I know if I make a big deal, or any kind of deal, over this, it’s only going to get worse. I know many kids go through this. I know he’ll grow out of it, someday, maybe. But right now it makes me nuts at just about every meal. Okay, not breakfast. Breakfast is okay. And for lunch, I’ve just given up—I hand him his two containers of yogurt and I lie down on the ground until he calls for me. So really it’s just dinner.

Last year at Thanksgiving I broke down in tears because he wouldn’t consider a single food. Not a cranberry, not a single chunk of yam. Turkey? HAHAHAHAHA. At some point during his second year he fixated on macaroni and cheese as the Ideal Dinner, and this festive evening was no different. So my sister said, “Just give him macaroni and cheese every night. He’ll get sick of it.”


So here we are, over one year later. Every night, either Annie or Amy provides him with his dinner. (I have tried making it myself, but homemade macaroni and cheese was deemed the worst crime any mother could commit.) For a while he would enjoy peas or green beans with it, but no more will he even tolerate the sight of the green horrors. Such an atrocity cannot even remain on his plate.

And fruit! Oh, how he used to love fruit! Clementines and mango and bananas and apples and everything else! Kid liked fruit!

Even a few weeks ago, he would request apples and bananas. Request them! No more. These days, fruit is of the devil. Fruit will not be tolerated. Don’t even think about it, with the fruit. Except blueberries, which are currently $45 a pint. I’m not buying them. Or applesauce, and is that even really a fruit? When a fruit has been sauced, may we still call it fruit?

His pediatrician recommended that we cease commenting on his eating, but that we also make sure that we’re eating well in his presence. Somehow being around a variety of foods, even if he’s not ingesting them, will have an effect. But I do! I do that! She also stressed the importance of the family dinner, and we can’t seem to manage that because my husband for some reason can’t come home at a reasonable hour even when he leaves home early and that’s an entirely different topic that’s making me want to cry every day, but as for me, I eat so well! (At least as far as he knows).

He’ll watch me eating, he’ll cook with me, he’ll smell the food we’re cooking or I’m eating and he’ll exclaim over the wonderfulness of the smells, and like a fool I begin to hope. I let myself believe that maybe he’s interested, that maybe he wants to (I can barely write it) taste something.

And then my mouth starts to open and my brain is screaming SHUT UP SHUT UP DON’T EVEN SAY IT, but I do! Because I’m not smart! I say, “You want a taste?” and then it’s all over. I might as well have suggested that I whip out the kitchen shears and snip off his tongue. He clamps his mouth shut and presses both fists over his mouth and emits the worst sound ever made, a sound I can’t even describe except it makes me want to scoop out my eardrums with a grapefruit spoon rather than hear it for one moment longer.

Everything I read, everything I hear, is telling me to LEAVE HIM ALONE, but I have such a hard time LEAVING HIM ALONE. I don’t even worry that much about the nutritional challenges of his limited diet; we indulge often in smoothies that I pack with all manner of supplementary materials, and/or muffins that are crammed with vegetables and exotic grains. I know he’s getting what he needs. What kills me is that we can’t just eat the same damn dinner. That I can’t share with him food that I know he would like if he would even have a tiny bite. That going to a restaurant is a near impossibility. He won’t even eat the foods that are bad for him, that’s he’s supposed to like! Like French fries! Or grilled cheese! Or those nuggets composed of mashed chicken parts! Or ketchup THE KID WON’T EAT KETCHUP WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM.

Tonight I failed, once again, to leave him alone. I dusted apple slices in cinnamon and sugar and ate them in front of him. He ignored me. I waved the sugary slices in front of his face and made yummy noises, but he continued to pointedly ignore me. Finally I said, “Apples with cinnamon! Mmm! Want a piece! Sure you do!” and he did the clamping-fists-indescribable sound. THEN he demanded “just plain cinnamon.” I refused him this. He immediately dissolved in tears. “Just plain cinnamon! Just plain cinnamon!” he repeated, approximately 57 times. Then I lost it. I explained, at a somewhat (aherm) elevated volume, that I was not going to simply hand him the cinnamon shaker, that if he was going to have a snack, which was by no means required, it was going to have some sort of nutritional aspect to it. Then he cried like I told him his teddy bear was going to Hell. Then he screamed repeatedly, anguished yawps of cinnamon deprivation. And I yelled, because I was trying to provide him with a model of how not to behave. He didn’t seem to get the message, because he yelled back.

Then! Because my mind was still not working right! I launched into a long and convoluted explanation of why he needs to eat nutritious foods, how such foods will make him big and strong. This didn’t work because he informed me that he doesn’t want to ever get big and/or strong. Then the rest of my brain died and I came up with the brilliant idea of a chart! We would make a chart, and every time Henry ate a new food we would put a star on the chart, and when the chart was full Henry would get a toy!

He liked this idea—focusing, as he was, on the word “toy.” We went to the refrigerator. “I’ll have a yogurt,” he said, “then we’ll get a toy.” I explained to him what “new” meant. There were more tears. I tried to take back the chart idea, but he couldn’t let it go. “We’ll have some milk,” he said, “And then, toy.” Once again I explained, no, ha ha, he already drinks milk. How about some black bean soup?

More tears. More attempting to take back the not-very-smart chart idea I had. I tried to get across to him that the chart would not result in instant gratification, that he would need to try 1,2,3,4,5! new foods. Then I said we should forget it and play and LOOK OVER THERE! IS THAT A SUPERHERO IN OUR CURTAINS?

He continued staring into the refrigerator. Finally he said, “I want to try black bean soup. I think it’s going to be,” he squinted, “a little good.”

I attempted to remain calm. I heated a few teaspoons of soup in the smallest bowl we own, and placed it before him. He took a tinier sip than I thought a human being could take, smiled, and said, “Okay, where’s my toy?”

P.S. Apparently this is International De-Lurking Week, and although I am not fond of the term "De-Lurking"--implying, as it does, that you are obligated to comment and if you don't you are creepy--I still like the idea of the Week and it's nice to hear from all of you. So! Say hello, why don't you?

Reader Comments (460)


I will lurk no more. I really enjoy your site.

Henry sounds like a great kid and I am sure he will get over this phase. My personal advise to you is to not get too worked up about it. I can still remember being anti-eggs when growing up. This was really a problem for my father who did not understand not liking the most likeable food in the world. We had an ugly Saturday morning when I was gagging on my eggs and he was yelling "SWALLOW!" I still won't eat eggs but otherwise I am not a picky eater.

Hang in there!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGayle
Hi... I'm not a parent and still read 'til the end. ;) I discovered finslippy through that NY Times article months ago.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBella
yes, hello.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrachel
I am delurking!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterw
Delurking to say, thank you for your blog. You are one of the most talented writers I've ever made it a point to read online.

When? When? When will you write a book, Alice?

I'd gladly pay full price for it.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGilmore Fan
Holy Guacamole I don't know why the number of comments amazes me (NY Times and all) but Holy Guacamole.

Hi and good luck with the food thing. Our three old would eat anything (Indian, Mexican, name it) until she hit, um, 3. Now she's big on PB&J, hot dogs (gross) and not much else.

Our 1 year old is following in her sister's footsteps - now. She doesn't like much of anything and I hope she's getting enough nutrition.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKrisco
De-lurking from San Diego and I love your blog!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAllison
Jaysus... almost 400 comments... I think you win the Site with the Most Lurkers, and Seriously, Who Knew? award... that I just made up...

Anyway, I have commented a couple of times, but am a lurker in the main, so hiya!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
Semi-de-lurking. I've posted before, but that was a long long time ago.

People in Springfield, Missouri think you're damn funny. Yee-haw!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSunny
Hello! My daugher eats only mac and cheese, and apples (NOT applesauce, never applesauce, that's gross, Mom!) and broccoli. My son loves salmon, calamari, tuna, broccoli, HATES McDonalds, LOVES Burger King... what can I say, there's just no accounting for their taste. Give 'em a multi-vitamin, try to keep it healthy at home, and don't worry about it. He's growing, he's intelligent - he'll be fine.

January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIrishGoddess
In the spirit of de-lurking (be careful what you wish for!)...

For my twin 4 year-olds this evening we had Shepherd's Pie a.k.a. "JEDI PIE!" One ate it and had seconds, and one nibbled at some of the potatoes.

And when we have to use a nebulizer its...a "medical droid." It doesn't always work but imagination seems to be more powerful than hunger around here.

Best of luck, girlfriend.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkristen
Jesus I'm #386. Have your eyeballs fallen out of your head yet? I'm Val, mama of 5. I started reading about a year ago, directed here from Melissa's blog. Love ya. Oh, and when I was awake at 3 am nursing the babe, I saw you on the Christmas show. Funny!Val
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterValerie
so much for my lurking days, glad to know I had plenty of company!

but don't feel alone on the food issues, I have a healthy 15 year old son who (at 2 years old) went 4 months eating nothing but oatmeal. Henry will figure it out eventually, as (dear God, I can only hope) will my 2 year old daughter who will only eat hot dogs, soybeans, yogurt and apples.ewww...

love your blog, thanks for all the laughter and tears.

January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdarlene
Love your site! Best of luck with the eating wars.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterbella
i wasn't going to comment but that creepy comment really freaked me out so here I am. I don't have kids but i did babysit one that was into the color coded food thing described above. I got really tired of making white foods but what are you going to do? they are remarkably powerful considering their age and size. i found you through littlemesses and really like your blog.
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKris
Howdy from Texas!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterhoneybfly
I'm a lurker, not out of creepiness but because of a sheer lack of time. I too have a child who will only ingest a limited amount of food, the list being even shorter than yours How did you trick him into hummus? My kid would smother me to death in my sleep if I tried that... please, share the secret!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRockStar Mommy
Hello Alice!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPomme Granite
I'm a lurker, maybe made one or two comments before. I read this because I have a two year old. Really, no more need be said. I laugh until I cry, reading it sometimes!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy
I don't have a child, personally, but I have a niece. My God -- everything you said resonates with me! So glad I found you -- through about 8 billion other blogs -- I won't even try to type the thread, because I'm quite certain my head would explode!
January 13, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
We mothers are all sisters... this story kind-of reminds me of the time I had to demand my son finish his donut before he could have Cocoa Puffs, except he chose the Puffs and I had no bean soup to offer... rats.
January 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjennyonthespot
No words of wisdom to share on the food thing... wish I did though.

My husband is starting a new job and I have already been warned that he will be working later- boo hoo. I am already sad about it but hopefully it won't be that bad.

Anyway, just popping up to say hello! Love your site and your Henry stories. I am always reading them aloud to my husband. :)
January 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfrecklegirl
This is the 399th comment. I guess you can call your de-lurking post a success :-)

(Not really a lurker, I do comment now and then. Your blog is very funny, even if living what you describe is probably much less so.)
January 14, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterudge
Just un-lurking to say hello. Read you regularly.
January 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRose

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