The only thing I can cook them that I know they'll eat without complaint is chips. Even pizza causes problems.
If it's not the one in the purple box, and if it's not burnt to a cinder, Annie won't eat it. If it's not the one with the guy with the big eyebrows on it, the boys won't. When it comes to food, my kids are like an obscure religious sect. Mike will only eat carbs; bread, dry rice, dry pasta, mashed spuds. Annie on the other hand will only eat protein. Meat without rice, spuds or pasta. And vegetables are completely out, except for peas, which Mike will swallow like pills without tasting. Mercifully, they'll eat fruit, but only if it's prepared in a certain way.
It's a Catch-22 situation. There are only a handful of things that they eat, but give them the handful of things too often and they'll get sick of them. This drives me crazy, and they know it does, so instead of telling me that they no longer like something, they'll tell me they're sick and can't eat.
Mike, who's five, frequently pretends to be choking, which can be a bit disconcerting. He was at his friend's house this week and when the friend's mother served him up a bowl of stew, Mike's hands went to his throat and he started making gagging noises. God love her, the poor woman threw him in the car and was halfway to the emergency room before she copped that he was faking it.
Conor, meanwhile, is a law unto himself. He refuses to sit in his high chair anymore. The only way to get stuff into him is to follow him around with a bowl and a fork. Either that, or pretend that he's an ogre who hides in the hills waiting for unsuspecting cyclists who think his mouth is a cave in which they take shelter for the night. If you don't do all the sound effects, which include innocent victims begging for their lives, and then being chewed up and swallowed, he gets very annoyed.
The thing is, their little moods are highly dependent on food intake. Often, all it takes to turn a screaming demon into a happy camper is a bowl of curry. And they can go from not-even-slightly hungry to the verge of death by malnutrition in about half a second. Ten minutes before grub's up, Annie, who's seven, will roll on the floor crying with hunger and begging for 'something to keep me going'. But give her as much as a piece of cheese and she'll turn her nose up at her dinner.
The easy way to keep them from eating junk would be to just not buy any, but that would mean that their parents would lose out, so we can't have that. So it's like you're bulimic, sitting in the toilet with a cup of tea and a Crunchie, while they're banging on the door: "What are you doing in there, Daddy?"
"Nothing. Leave me alone."
More than once, Annie has come in to me with a sweet wrapper found in the bin. "What's this?" she asks.
I give my stock answer. "Don't know. Ask Mammy."