Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's for Dinner?

A friend who is watching the children right around lunch time Sunday asked if there was anything they would not eat.  I stared at her for a minute before I answered slowly, "Ezra says he doesn't eat rice."

Really, at any point of their waking hours, there is definitely something each will not eat.  Sylvie mostly does not eat spicy stuff, but Phaedra and Ezra definitely do.  Phaedra does not seem to eat eggs with any gusto, but she eats enough to make it until lunch.  Ezra has strange grain aversions, like the rice thing.  Phaedra does not like foods to be too sweet.  Sylvie prefers white bread and milk for every meal.  The list goes on and on if I actually try to mention all their food preferences. That is not the way the kitchen works at our house, though.

I am not a harridan about food.  These vague preferences I try to note, and I try to make sure we're not having excessively sweet potatoes and extremely spicy rice for one meal.  On the other hand, I will definitely serve things that one child or another is not fond of if any of the rest of us like it.  And the rule is one taste, no complaining, no yuck faces.  I have been quite pleased with the results of this policy.

Ezra occasionally forgets and eats rice just because he is hungry.  Sylvie will eat greens if it improves her chances for another slice of bread.  Phaedra will eat eggs before ballet to have plenty of energy.  And with all these things, their tastes and preferences change.  Tomorrow or next month or next year, Sylvie may value a bit of spice in her curry and Ezra may eat chocolate cookies again and Phaedra may deny she ever disliked eggs.  If I do not get too locked into identifying these food things as Truths about the children, it leaves them room to change their minds.

Sometimes, the children are even pleasantly surprised by a food they thought they hated.  Phaedra likes to talk about how much she loves greens, because a year ago she would not touch them.  Ezra delightedly ate liver tonight, wondering if his appetite for it meant he was growing up.  Sylvie... well, Sylvie had 3 glasses of milk and some winter squash for dinner.  

Maybe even more importantly, they learn not to burden others with their preferences.  Their mother earnestly hopes they will be able to sit with others and eat or not eat without commentary on the food choices of others.  The art of being companionable at the table is a fine one to learn, and vocal pickiness can be a hindrance to others' digestion. 

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