There are so many reasons kids only want to eat a few things when they are little -- and just as many suggestions on how to fix that. And, honestly, just as many reasons we can blame ourselves and feel bad about it! This post is not about any of that. I want to talk about how rejection or just having a little taste is OK. And maybe approaching new things with ease and acceptance is the easiest way to integrate it.
Until age 8, when he began to grasp the connection between nutrition and health, my son pretty much ate spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, roasted seaweed, carrots, freeze dried strawberries and apples. Other than that, he wanted sweets. The only dinner he joined us for was roast chicken. Especially given his personality, we had to accept that one dinner a week at the table with us, eating the same meal, was good enough. At first, he ate the meat and refused all the veggies. And now, at age 13, he's one of the biggest foodies I know. He loves to try new things and has shed all his hang-ups about food.
During the cold weather months, we roast a chicken every Sunday. It's a great way to finish out the weekend with a hearty meal. (It also gives us a steady supply of bone broth to make our nourishing chicken soup.) My daughter was similar to my son as a younger child, although her tastes were a bit healthier and her list of acceptable foods slightly longer. She started joining us for Sunday dinner about a year ago and is now trying all the vegetables on her plate! It feels like a new era where we can all connect on a similar level and enjoy some conversation and good, nourishing food. Hallelujah to health and also enjoying one of life's great pleasures.
And speaking of life's great pleasures, this experience of the "gateway dinner" with both kids got me thinking about other acquired tastes. I was also thinking about how I can bring more beauty, meaning and appreciation into our lives. Although we like to read, I realized we had been severely lacking poetry. I love how good poetry heightens our awareness of all the things that ultimately matter most: simple joys like beauty, nature, love and connection. To be honest, it had been years since I read any poetry, but felt this would be a great addition to our Sunday dinners. So, I printed out a collection of fall inspired poetry and gave it a shot. It went as expected. My son was immediately on board while my daughter rejected it. Actually, she said, "I'm out!" after the first poem. She often has very dramatic reactions to new things, which has made me realize I don't have to be invested in whether or not she embraces the new thing I want her to like. I can accept her reaction without my disappointment or trying to make her feel differently. And my acceptance actually gives her space to come around, and she almost always does.
So, she heard the poem, and that was good enough. Just a taste.
For the Chipmunk in My Yard
by Robert Gibb
I think he knows I'm alive, having come down
The three steps of the back porch
And given me a good once over. All afternoon
He's been moving back and forth,
Gathering odd bits of walnut shells and twigs,
While all about him the great fields tumble
To the blades of the thresher. He's lucky
to be where he is, wild with all that happens.
He's lucky he's not one of the shadows
Living in the blond heart of the wheat.
This autumn when trees bolt, dark with the fires
Of starlight, he'll curl among their roots,
Wanting nothing but the slow burn of matter
On which he fastens like a small, brown flame.