The Dinner

So tonight (mostly joking) I asked my kids: “So… are you going to make dinner tonight or should I?”

The answer I got was somewhat unexpected: “Seriously? Can we?”

“Err…. Um…. Sure. But it has to be a meal of healthy choices.”

Your Kids Will Be Tested In Life

So you might as well make it on your terms. In this case, the test was not dangerous (well, I had to eat it too and I have to say I was a bit nervous). So the questions were: can they make the right choices? Do they know the requirements of a healthy meal in the first place? Sure, we’ve tried to instil an understanding of protein, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, etc. But the real bottom-of-the-line-question: did they hear it?

It was better to find out tonight than years from now. Then when they ignore the advice sometime later in college you can hope they’ll pick it back up again a few years later.

The Happy Meal

I wasn’t allowed into the kitchen while the meal was being prepared. About a half-an-hour in (which was right about our normal dinner time) I was asked if I would authorize the use of cookie cutters. My first sign that maybe our little whispers of health had not been heard. It took another half an hour before I was allowed to come to the table.

The results would take a lot of words to describe, so I’ll use pictures instead:

Cheese, Apples and Ghrams

Cheese, Apples and Ghrams

Peanut Butter Animal Shapes

Peanut Butter Animal Shapes

Buttered Animal Shaped Bread

Buttered Animal Shaped Bread

Apples, Celery, and Carrots

Apples, Celery, and Carrots

I think they passed! They had representations of pretty much everything important. Now, mind you I don’t know how old the celery was that they found (but I ate it anyway). And they had actually gotten the single, very-small, carrot from the garden. I am hoping it was washed well. All said and done, my kids get an A+ for effort, an A+ for presentation and an A+ for content.

Dinner Conversation

“What did you cut up the fruit and vegetables with?”

“A knife”

“errr…. a sharp knife?”

“No, a normal one” (pointing to a butter knife).

“You cut up a raw carrot and celery with a butter knife???” (they were thin slices!)


Grade Change: A++ for effort!

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the bowl of “left over bread pieces” though. Picture it in your mind: take a piece of bread, cut an animal-shape out of it using a cookie cutter… What do you do with the rest? Put it in a bowl of course!

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The best laid parental plans taste awful

The Plan

A while back I considered ways to get my son to try a few new foods. So I came up with this plan: take ingredients he liked and put them in a matrix that he could put stickers on. Some fun ingredients and some wacky ones. IE, something like this:

  Bread Graham Crackers Ritz Crackers

And then we’d try new combinations and put stickers in the squares we liked, and Xs in the squares we didn’t.

The execution

“This’ll do it” I thought to myself. Well, stop laughing all you seasoned parents. The result was my adventurous daughter was eager to fill every square. My reserved son (the one I was trying to impress with this whole setup) refused to try any combination he hadn’t tried before.

Don’t get me wrong: kid’s are different. I was wrong in thinking I could influence them. They each have their own personalities. I love the fact that my daughter points at a ridge and says “lets hike there”. I love the fact that my son has shot goals past me in soccer because he’s had me laughing so hard there was no way to defend myself. They each have their own special talents and attributes. I’m the one who has learned to adapt to them, not the other way around.

The recent results

Meanwhile, years later, my Daughter has been begging me to do another “try it” meal. So I gave in again (we’re up to a count of about 4 at this point) and we gave another whack at it tonight. My son, who started complaining immediately, got oatmeal and other random things for dinner since I the rules say you don’t force a kid when it comes to food. My daughter and I embarked on a episode of trials and tribulations. So here are the two winners(?) for the night:

  • Best Combination: Graham Crackers and Yogurt. Holy cow batman. This one surprised me. I mean, I knew it would be good. But this is like dessert-quality good, not just “good”. My daughter and I both agree.
  • Worst Combination: Pears and Ketchup. Holy cow batman. I knew it’d be bad, but this is really really really really bad. Insert a few infinity-signs before the “bad” in that statement. Oh man. I mean bad. I mean don’t try this at home bad.

Tips for Parents

Try fun but simple adventures some times. You’ll be amazed how profound of an effect you’ll have on your kids, regardless of whether it was the effect you intended or not. Either way, they’ll gain something from the experience.

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