When I was little and still in a high chair, I was given a hamburger on a plate with no roll and no condiments. This was back in the sixties, and the hamburger was one of those pre-made jobs, maybe a ¼ inch thick and (in my memory) a grayish brown color. I remember picking it up like a cookie and taking a small bite… It was terrible: dry, chewy, flavorless rubber.
I’m sure I had a fit. My mother and father had no patience for that kind of attitude (I was the youngest of six, so by that point they probably had used it all up on the other five) and was told to eat what was in front of me or there would be no dessert! I picked up the burger and gave it another go… and then came up with a brilliant plan. What if I hid that burger under my plate? It would look like I ate it and no one would be the wiser!
And it worked! My mother finally noticed the hamburger was gone. I was a superstar! Dessert was on its way! There I was happily licking my ice cream cone, the hamburger still hidden beneath my plate and completely forgotten. I was as shocked as my mother when she cleared the dish from the high chair. A hamburger under my plate? I looked at it with wide eyes and thought, “Uh oh!”
Of course my ice cream was promptly taken away and – in front of my very eyes – thrown into the garbage! I’m sure I was probably shamed in some unfortunate way and then forced to sit in that high chair with that dastardly hamburger well after everyone had left the kitchen. It may have only been five or ten minutes, but to me, left alone in a dark kitchen, it felt like forever. (Did I eat the hamburger? Nope, I was also pretty stubborn.)
When I became a parent I had a different philosophy. I tried to get my kids involved in meal preparation as soon as they could stir a spoon and then never forced them to eat something that they were dubious about. “One bite” was all I asked, and oftentimes they found it was better than they feared and voila their food repertoire was expanded.
Check out our YouTube Channel for this week’s Storytime Short, The Seven Silly Eaters and see how another family dealt with their children’s food preferences. You can also check out the Library for booklists on the subject, including one devoted to cookbooks and ideas for family fun in the kitchen.