Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…
I no longer care what my kids eat.
Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)
I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.
OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”
However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (BUT THE CARDIGAN IS DECORATED WITH SKULLS!)
I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.
I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.
And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.
Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.
I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).
I was 25 before I tried hummus.
I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.
And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.
So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?
“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”
And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.
More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.
Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.
It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it? (And hey, if they do get scurvy, I’ll just hold them down and squeeze lemon juice in their mouth and be on my merry way).
In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.
And besides, peas are icky.