Thanks for the e-mails regarding Maylin's eating habits at school. Here's an elaborated version of what I wrote in my comments section in reply to one of my readers:
The cafeteria food in France is fantastic. It might be too gourmet for Maylin, who prefers chow mein, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and scrambled eggs. At school they have fish served in special sauces, rabbit with mustard, couscous, fruit, tomatoes, and various "green stuff." Maylin's told me that she did actually eat fish and couscous, but probably in such minute amounts that it didn't count according to the cooking staff. But Maylin also has a history of eating the exotic -- duck feet, chicken butt, lobster, and smoked salmon.
In the cantine, they serve at least four courses and that may be too much for Maylin to finish in one hour. That's 15 minutes per course. They toss each unfinished course into the trash before they go onto the next course. Yeah, it's too fast for her, even if she is hungry which she probably is by lunchtime because she doesn't have breakfast at home (she's never hungry when she gets up -- like I was when I was a kid). At home, I'll leave all her food out for as long as it takes for her to finish it. Now do I have to teach her to eat faster?
I remember eating, or not eating, in the school cafeteria in first grade. I remember tossing out lots of food, hardly eating anything unless it was roast turkey and mashed potato day. I think I felt a little guilty, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. My appetite was always poor in childhood, even at home, but I think it was worse at school when the food was hardly palatable. And don't even talk about the milk! I hated milk at home, but the milk at school (even in the grades when I was able to bring lunch from home) was really disgusting. Sometimes it was on the warm side, sometimes it was past its "best by" date, and sometimes it was just plain foul -- like the time in third grade when my milk came out of the carton in chunks or curds or whatever you wanted to call the sour, solid stuff.
I think Maylin's appetite is better than mine was. But maybe I'm also a little bit more accommodating to her taste. I cook a meal for her, often separate from John's and mine. I'll be lucky these days if she wants to eat some of my fried rice or stirfry. Too often the only thing she wants is mac 'n' cheese, which I make from scratch (I haven't seen any Kraft Cheese-n-Macaroni here nor Annie's Homegrown Shells with the cute bunny on the box).
A great many of my memories of childhood involve some food dispute. The night before my sixth birthday (my mom planned a big party for me), at around 10 p.m., I was still sitting at the kitchen counter-peninsula, trying with all my might to finish my dinner. I was really too excited to eat. I sat there obediently for hours since 7 or 8 p.m. until my parents finally gave in and let me go to bed without finishing. At the party the next day, I couldn't even finish my catered McDonald's cheeseburger and was left alone at the table while all my friends went off to play the party games. Another time, I took several hours to finish dinner because my parents didn't realize that for an hour I had been gnawing unsuccessfully on a grisly piece of meat. I wasn't allowed to spit out food so I stuck with it until it was a tasteless gray mass. And how many times did I forgo my dinner to cry myself to sleep? Too many -- all due to a lack of appetite. It became my cross to bear for my entire childhood.
I probably found my appetite around puberty. And then, during my freshman year in college I added the well-known "Freshman Fifteen" to my pre-college weight of a measly eighty-five pounds. Thanks to limitless servings of curly fries, pancakes, fried chicken, and chicken-fried steak, the entire freshman class grew as individuals, literally.
But I digress. Though I do think history will repeat itself. Maylin will have a below-average appetite until the pimples arrive, and then there will be no holding her back.