Eating with Children

165As you know, The Latin Lover and The Goddess have 3 adult sons that were once small beings or creatures.  And we’re happy to report, they’ve grown into wonderful young men.  They can hold their own in the kitchen and they eat pretty much everything and are willing to try almost anything.  They have what we’ve always referred to as “an adventurous palate”.  At one time, I thought about calling this blog, “An Adventurous Palate”, but for some reason, I didn’t.

As you might imagine, The Goddess likes to try new flavors and ethnic dishes.  Also, we lived in other countries from time to time, so she wanted to explore the local flavor profile.  No matter where we lived, we ate street food, we went to local dives and neighborhood eateries and joints.  And, by and large, the boys ate pretty much everything.

When we first moved to Brazil, we were eating in restaurants quite a bit.  On one occasion The Latin Lover ordered sushi for himself.  The boys asked about it and The Latin Lover explained that this was Japanese food.  The boys asked if they could try it.  They ate it all.  He had to reorder for himself and extra for them.  The Youngest One, was only 4 at the time.  He wasn’t going to be left out.  He tried a piece of maki, the smallest roll.  He chewed it and chewed it and chewed it.  I realized there was no way he was going to swallow it.  He didn’t.  So when the new order arrived, I took the little maki roll and cut it in half, because it occurred to me it was simply too large a bite for his mouth.  He lapped it up.  We had to order more just for him and today, he still loves sushi, though we don’t have to cut it up anymore!   We didn’t mention that there was raw fish or eel or whatever was “foreign” in these little morsels.  It was simply a type of Japanese food.  Here, try it!  With kids, or adults for that matter, over-explaining or describing things can hinder food exploration.  We all have imaginations, but sometimes less info, is better.

We also didn’t put our personal dislikes on our children.  If we didn’t like something, we put a bit on our plate, ate it or moved it around and “were too full” to eat it.  The Latin Lover detests asparagus.  That’s his choice, but he never put that on our sons.  All three love asparagus.  Why would anyone assume that because they don’t like something, their children wouldn’t either?  I’m not certain most of us would pass our dislikes on intentionally.  I would hope not, anyway.

We had a couple of issues.  One of the creatures, we won’t mention any names, but The Middle Son knows who we’re talking about.  He had some issues with textures and he simply couldn’t seem to eat scrambled eggs.  Seriously, who can’t eat scrambled eggs?  It’s the one preparation of eggs that most kids will, in fact, eat…but not The Middle Son.  It was becoming a problem.  He couldn’t seem to eat them, no matter how long he sat at the table.  I was getting annoyed and he knew it.  He was pushing my buttons, so we changed tactics.  Don’t you think that’s what one does when something isn’t working?  So, as Bill Maher says, “New Rule”…you have to, no matter what, no exceptions, eat 1 bite.  Only one bite.  After that, it’s up to you.  However, having said that, no one was allowed to make faces, say “Yuk!” or whatever things small creatures like to do to irritate mom and dad.  We didn’t make a big deal out of it and today he eats scrambled eggs.  The “one-bite-rule” was a house rule, like looking both ways before crossing the street.

Over the years, there have been dozens of kids that have shared the meals around our dinner table.  The one-bite-rule applied to everyone who ate around our table.  Oddly enough, I’ve had parents say,  “Junior didn’t like (whatever) until he ate it here.  Now, he just loves it.  How did you get him to eat it?”  It’s pretty simple really.  It’s a house rule.  Like putting down the toilet seat, but that’s another post.

Also, if you couldn’t find something to eat at mealtime that you liked, then you would have to wait until the next meal.  Does The Goddess look like a short-order cook?  Does she look like your personal chef?  No. No, indeed she does not.  And no one starves to death from missing one meal.

I’ve always wondered if picky adults were, as children, allowed to let their food preferences rule the household.  I’ve had parents say to me, “Oh, we don’t cook (insert innocuous food here) because junior doesn’t like it.  We love it, but it’s just too much of a hassle.”  My response was usually not the most diplomatic of choices,  “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Those of you who know me, won’t be surprised in the least, by that response.  I have no patience for this sort of stuff, I’m sorry to report.  It’s one of the frailties that befalls The Goddess.  We don’t mention it much…she’a a tad touchy about it…you understand, don’t you?

So yeah, we had rules.  Society has rules.  We wanted to be able to take the boys anywhere and they would know how to behave, to be able to enjoy and experience the situation, without causing others discomfort or annoyance.  They were both seen and heard, but not the center of attention.  They were our children, not God’s gift to the world.  Though they are wonderful young men, though perhaps this might be just a bit biased.  They are happy and as well-adjusted as they can be with me as their mother.  They know how to work hard and they know how to relax.  They enjoy life…hmmm…maybe God knows more than I give her credit for!


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