Quick question, what is one of the hardest things you will do as a parent. Answer: feed a child between the ages of 3 and 8 years old. Survive those 5 years and you will have learned a lot about yourself. You see at age 3 they are starting to understand free will and the power of ‘No’. By age 8 they understand the power of wearing down mommy and daddy and the joy of watching you supress anger.
These are the years of no sauce/gravy touching other foods, no vegetables touching anything else on the plate and no texture changes like fruit chunks in yogurt. What parent has not watched while their child carefully separated the corn from the rice and the chicken from the mashed potatoes or seen them throw a fit because the gravy touched the carrots. Were you a parent who wondered how long can a child live on pasta with a little butter and cheese or plain boiled rice or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Well if you made it through that stage of development congratulations but for those who are just currently walking this road let me offer a little advice:
- Nothing they do will last forever, one day they will laugh when you tell them about the year they ate almost nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and rice.
- Don’t waste your time trying to argue with them except to make an agreement that while they are eating the same things every day a couple of fruits and vegetables have to be added in daily. There are usually one or two of these that they are willing to eat, bananas, clementines, apple chunks, carrot sticks and broccoli with a dip being among the more popular.
- If you try to force them to eat more variety or try something new, You Will Lose! Children that age do not have jobs; they have nowhere they need to be in a hurry. The offending bit of meat, fish or vegetable that they do not want to eat can sit inside their jaw for 4 hours or more, un-chewed, un-swallowed, just parked, believe me I have seen it.
- One day around 9 or 10 years old they will suddenly reach for a new food either from your plate or from the plate of a friend. A harp will play, a halo will appear above their heads and after that they will offer to help pack their own lunches and help you cook dinner! Make no comment; just accept that you passed out of purgatory and into the light.
Next: Packing Lunches