Wednesday’s post (and the comments that followed) got me thinking about things. About food, of course, and all the ways we enjoy it. But it also got me thinking about childhood. Mine. And everyone else’s.
I mentioned in my post that I cannot eat blackeyed peas. This is a problem because I’m half-assed superstitious, so the blackeyed peas have to be on the menu for New Years’ Day. I found the only way I can eat them is if they are part of something bigger: my famous, delicious, killer 10-bean soup. But I digress. The point here is that I cannot eat plain old blackeyed peas because of a memory I have from my childhood. (The fact that they taste like a*s doesn’t hurt, either.) But as kids, we were encouraged to try everything once. And my mom (or my grandma, I can’t remember now) told me to try blackeyed peas. So I did, and I tried to wash them down with milk (another thing I wasn’t all that crazy about), and the inevitable happened. Hence the blackeyed pea problem.

And that memory got me thinking. We were made to try things. We were made to eat whatever meal was prepared, whether we liked it or not. If we didn’t like it, we didn’t eat, and that was that.

And I could never, ever do that to my kids.

I have two kids. Mr. Cool eats anything. Miss Priss ATE everything, until she was about 4, and then she noticed things were (a) icky, (b) gross, (c) green, or (d) all of the above. And she shut down. And since that time (she’s almost 12), she has had a list of about six total things she will eat. Total. And Mr. Cool, while he likes most everything, has to be in the mood for certain things. And here is where I have possibly, probably, screwed up. I’ve indulged all of this. I’ve allowed it to happen. And because of this, my kids have always decided what they were going to eat. And until recently, it was up to me to prepare the alternative choice. (They are now old enough and self-sufficient enough to get things on their own, for the most part.)

Until recently, I’d prepare dinner, then prepare a second meal (usually consisting of mac & cheese & chicken nuggets) for Miss Priss. If Mr. Cool wasn’t in the mood for what was prepared, I’d help him find something else. His was usually a variation on what I’d cooked (e.g., take a couple of slices of that night’s roast beef, put them on bread with cheese, etc.) These days, they are both able to manage with minimal help from me. But the point is, that’s three separate meals sometimes.

And it’s not bad, really. I just don’t know if it’s wrong. It’s just that the more I think of times, sitting at the table, being forced to try something, and feeling so powerless, the more I can’t do that to my own kids. And it’s not just with food. There are a lot of things that our parents did that we would never, ever think of doing to our own children.

So I try to draw some sort of a balance between indulging my children’s’ every wish and teaching them valuable lessons. Between respecting them and disciplining them. Between making them happy and making them accountable.

And you know? Like the rest of you balancing parenting, and a household, and a job, and everything else, I just don’t have time to argue the finer points of tasting, just TASTING a damned casserole.

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