When I was little, and a fussy eater, my mother did the things mothers do to get their fussy eaters to eat. She flew little airplanes of oatmeal into my mouth. She distracted me with toys. She told stories.
When I was a little older, and still a fussy eater, she promised treats, "Eat your spinach and you can have a Mallomar." And she made faces - not the kind where you stick out your tongue or grimace. My mother made faces by giving some mashed potatoes green pea eyes, a carrot nose, a peach slice smile. She'd go out of her way to get me to eat what she considered nutritious food, not knowing that what was deemed good for you would get changed, in times to come, as often as your socks.
When I became a mom, it wasn't the yucky spinach I remembered, nor the fruit compote I hated so intensely. I remembered how loved I felt when my mother made faces on my food. So I did that for my child, the way my mother had for me.
Now that my daughter is grown with children of her own, I still make faces on food. It's not that my dogs are fussy eaters. And it's not that a dog would care whether or not there was a face made out of fruit on his cottage cheese. Making faces reminds me of my mother, and how she fussed to get her fussy eater to eat. Making faces reminds me of her kitchen, of sitting at the table when my feet didn't yet touch the floor and watching my mother, an artist at work.
Above, Dexter's birthday breakfast. He ate every bite, face and all.