Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

Why won't Kitty eat spaghetti like it's soup?

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 06 March 2012

There is little more emotive an issue for parents than their child’s eating. I always thought that I would be very cool if Kitty started refusing to eat, or became a picky eater. I never had to eat anything I didn’t want to when I was little and I am grateful to my mother for never making eating an issue, or mealtimes a battle. I also have a phobia about being forced to eat more than I want and so the last thing I thought I would ever do was coax, cajole or bully Kitty into eating.

And by and large, I’ve stuck to that. Mostly because you actually can’t force a pre-verbal toddler to eat something they don’t want. They will simply spit it out, or purse their lips, or bat the spoon away.

But when Kitty is going through a phase of really not wanting to eat anything, of turning her head after a mouthful of lunch and saying “Na!”, or even frantically bum-shuffling away from a proffered square of cake, it’s pretty hard to hold your nerve. The temptation to squeeze her fat cheeks together and stuff macaroni cheese into her mouth is strong.

So thank goodness I came across a book called My Child Won’t Eat! by a Spanish nutritionist Dr Carlos Gonzalez, which is probably the most sensible book about feeding babies and toddlers I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot – I’m a sucker for self-help).

His theory is this: do not ever, ever force a child to eat anything. Not by using “here comes the airplane” or threats or bribes or anything. Don’t do it. Consider mealtimes over when the child indicates it doesn’t want anymore, no matter how much they’ve eaten.

...

How I surrendered to housework

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 28 February 2012

I thought I was going into this baby thing with my eyes pretty open. I was eight years old when my little sister was born, so I was under no illusions about babies and toddlers being delightful Boden-clad little munchkins. I knew that they wailed and puked and screamed and wriggled and didn’t do anything even remotely interesting, like sitting up, for aaaaages.

So I knew all that. But what I failed to realise is quite what a drastic increase in housework a baby means. I don’t know why, but one extra person living in our house seems to have tripled the housework, rather than just increasing it by 50%. And girls of my generation simply haven’t been brought up to know how to keep a house tidy; we were supposed to run the country.

I am lucky: my husband, although he doesn’t actually snap on the Marigolds, isn’t actively untidy. I know women whose husbands leave a trail of dirty pants and socks around the house for them to pick up and pretend that they don’t understand how to switch the dishwasher on. My husband has his chores, (all bins and recycling, all shopping and cooking on the weekend), and he sticks to them faithfully. Once in a while I will even find him cross-legged in front of the open fridge, giving it a clean.

...

How many is enough?

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Before I had children I assumed that I would have a lot. And when I say a lot I mean a minimum of three.

I have three sisters, I am the third of four (like a fax), and I have always thought that “small” families (i.e. with only two children) must be terribly lonely and sad.

It was bad enough when my eldest sister, Harriet, left school and therefore more or less left home, leaving me with only two other sisters with whom to bicker and slob about. The thought when she left there would be no-one else left with me until I went to University was awful. In fact, I remember clearly a girl at school being in floods of tears one October day because her elder brother Robin had left home for university leaving her alone at home with her “bloody parents”.

...

Parenthood makes fools of us all in time

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 14 February 2012

When I was in my teens and twenties and having a miserable time for whatever reason, I would say to myself: “I had better enjoy myself while I can, because when I’m old or when I’ve got children I will look back on this time and be envious of myself. Similarly, I bet I will hate girls younger and prettier than me.”

And in fact, neither thing is true; I don’t want to be younger again because being a zitty teenager was hell and being a zitty twenty-something lurching from one disastrous relationship to another was worse.

And I really don’t envy girls younger and prettier than me. I really, seriously don’t.

...

To be a parent is to be a nurse

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
Esther Walker has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 February 2012

There is no time in parenting more claustrophobic or suffocating than when a child is ill. And they're ill an awful lot. No-one ever told me that. No-one ever said "By the way, to be a parent is basically to be a nurse." Vomiting and diarrhoea is the worst, as it's not only claustrophobic but smelly and requires an awful lot of laundry. Well, I say an awful lot, I mean even more than the normal gargantuan lorry-loads.

 

I took Kitty to the library the other day, that was my first mistake. It's a cheerful and welcoming place, the childrens' section of the library, and Kitty loves it. But clean it is not. And discerning about the health of the children it lets through its doors even less not. I saw more than one green and peaky face but tried to suppress my hateful bourgeois preciousness about preserving Kitty's health. "She needs to get ill," I try to tell myself. "If not now, then at nursery, ten times worse." But when I saw a four year old standing in the corner by the Harry Potters, coughing on and on, greenly, phlegmily, foully, for a full five minutes, I wrestled Kitty into her buggy and made a bid for the High Street.

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