Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Picky, picky

One of my new regular feeds is the Dad Cooks Dinner blog. This morning, he posted a nice take on how to manage, um, discriminating palates:
Kids aren't all the same; they have a range of taste sensitivity. Some are "live to eat" kids, who will eat anything. Most are in the middle, where they prefer fatty and sweet foods, but can eat vegetables grudgingly. Then you get to the picky eaters, who for one reason or another, view wide swaths foods as "gross". Their tastes, like their personality, are a part of them. Parents can help expand those tastes, but we can only help so much - to a large part, the kids are who they are.
I think this will sound familiar to most, and the righteous few who claim that "kids shouldn't dictate what you serve" or "if they're hungry enough, they'll eat it and eventually learn to love it" are perhaps underestimating the value of pleasant shared experiences and overestimating the long term effects of their choices. I've been eyewitness to parenting styles that involved lots of screaming, undermining and inattention. but it's a ridiculous leap to infer that because the recipient children turned out "OK" that those styles are  therefore  appropriate, or even desirable.

I tend to agree with my fellow blogger that our behaviour has consequences only at the margins, and often, not in the way we intended, and for these reasons I don't push too hard. During my 2009 sabbatical I was obsessed with finding new things that the Gs would like, and the almost unbroken series of failures-that-weren't-desserts produced a lot of tense moments at the dinner table. I really wanted to succeed, and the Gs really wanted to support me. But they couldn't; so I've backed off, and learned the value of a compartmentilization approach to preparation and assembly. I've also discovered that peer pressure can be a major contributor to an expansion of the pantry. Once in a while, after a sleepover, or a lunchroom swap, one of the Gs will ask me to procure or make something to which they've been introduced by a cool friend.

This happened twice this summer. The OG discovered hash browns (admittedly a somewhat incremental improvement from the acceptable potato universe of chips or fries) and the BG discovered tofurky slices, which she requested I wrap around a dollop of cream cheese.

Of course tofu is not something I'm particularly fond of, so I'm not turning cartwheels on the linoleum, but at least it gives me an easy option when I'm preparing a bespoke meal to complement something on the menu that I know or suspect that one of the Gs will decline. And it was enjoyable this morning when she asked, wide-eyed, if I would show her the contents of her lunch box, so that she could gaze upon the thin slices of processed wheat protein and tofu enveloping a soft mild white cheese product with a high fat content.

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