Soon after the hungry caterpillar from Eric Carle's classic is born, he starts looking for food. Fortunately for the little caterpillar, and for the parents who read the story to their kids, the little guy makes some great choices at first. He eats an apple, a couple of pears, some plums, strawberries, and oranges. A very healthy first week.
Unfortunately, the following day the caterpillar seems to grab anything that comes his way. He randomly finds his way to some candies, a few pieces of meat, a watermelon, even a pickle! And, of course, he has a stomach ache the next day.
As a parent who reads this story to my three-year-old boy, I can't help but to identify with the caterpillar on that particular day. As most parents of toddlers know, the days of sitting down for meals are over, at least for the time being, replaced by running around between needy kids, heating up his food while cooling off hers, getting him a glass of milk while cleaning her bib, picking up leftovers he threw on the floor while burping her. In the end, we're lucky if we get a chance to randomly shove some food into our mouths. We end up treating every meal as if we were the caterpillar on Saturday: We grab a pickle, some sausages, and an old cupcake for dessert.
Unlike the caterpillar, who spends the next day getting over his stomach ache by eating healthy food again, we never quite move beyond our random phase, at least not until the kids are old enough to go to school. Maybe then we get the chance to become beautiful butterflies again.