I flipped out on my kids tonight. I know all the strategies out there about how to get your kids to try new foods and develop sophisticated palates. The common denominator as far as I can tell is that you DO NOT force your kids to swallow and finish the eggplant and capers entrée or calamari and goat cheese appetizer, all the while disregarding their protests. So long as they have tried it (my friend uses the 3 spoons rule), the experts remind us, we should respect their tastes and not push the issue. “Try again”, I’ve read a million times in parenting magazines, “eventually their tastes will mature”-so the theory goes.
Today all of that went out the window and I vowed to my kids that they would eat peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of their lives! This was their consequence after they nibbled at my new chicken and salsa dish while holding their noses. Since they didn’t appreciate real cooking, I proclaimed, peanut butter would simply have to do. The look of disbelief, turned panic, on their faces was quite shocking actually. I could see their wheels turning and sure enough, the questions came rolling out – what would I and Baba eat? What groceries would we get other than endless jars of peanut butter and bread? Could they add jam to the peanut butter? Peanut butter for breakfast, lunch AND dinner? Even better I thought to myself – no more meal planning!
Honestly, some days it is like a slap in the face when our kids don’t clean off their plates after we’ve put so much thought into how to vary their menus and balance their diets. But in the end, it’s not about us is it? Or at least, it shouldn’t be. We don’t spend the time in the kitchen so that our children will be grateful and sing our praises, but for their own healthy development. As mothers, we need to separate ourselves from what we do for our children. For example, how many of us cringe in embarrassment when our preschoolers decide to wear a mismatched outfit to a friend’s party or insist on wearing the exact same outfit to every possible outing? Again, the reminder – this is not about my sense of style!
Upon further reflection, I realized that my threat of eternal peanut butter also wasn’t fair because inevitably, I wouldn’t be following through. What kind of message was I sending my kids about promises made and outbursts made in anger? And so, just so that I wouldn’t be completely untruthful, the next night, true to my word, peanut butter sandwiches were on the dinner menu- along with jam of course!
Mihad Fahmy is a London, Ontario mother of three. She practices human rights and labour law and is always on the lookout for the perfect novel to escape into at the end of a busy day.