I figured something out the other day that could change how we feed our children their dinner. Like every parent, we struggle with getting vegetables in them, attempting every trick from bribery ("if you want ice cream, you have to eat three bites of cauliflower") to logic ("broccoli makes you grow - don't you want to grow?") But no matter what we try, those vegetables get pushed aside, even if that means no dessert.
We visited Sam's Club the other day and they must have had a free sample cart at the end of every aisle. Once the girls figured out that each cart offered a possible treat, they couldn't wait to go down the next aisle. They were trying food that they would never try at home.
Clara: Daddy, can I have some of that?
Me: Sweetie, it's beef jerky. Beef jerky is not for little girls.
Clara: Oh please, oh please!
Me: Clara, you won't like it.
Clara: Yes I will, it's my favorite!
So I take a sample of beef jerky and peel off a little piece for her to try. She chews and chews and chews, and as she does so her eyes light up and she smiles as if this is the greatest thing she's ever tasted. Kate of course has to have some. Her reaction: "Yummy!"
Clara: How about some of that?
Me: That's laundry detergent.
Clara: I love laundry detergent! It's my favorite!
At any moment during that trip you might have seen the girls spooning yogurt and granola into their mouth, holding large chunks of baked ham, blowing on hot pizza snacks, dipping carrots into a ranch sauce, struggling through a spicy chicken wing, and wolfing down a Chinese rice and chicken dish. They wanted a second helping of the Chinese dish, so I bought it for dinner that night. They wouldn't touch it. Wouldn't even try one bite. "I don't like it," Kate said. This was many hours later in the day, so they couldn't have still been full from their sample-fest.
After pulling my hair out I had an epiphany : If kids will eat anything that's a sample at a grocery store, use that to your advantage. Instead of serving your children traditional meals, buy a free sample cart and set it up in your kitchen or dining room. Cut everything into bite size servings and put them in little plastic cups. Don't forget the tiny square napkins. As they run by with buckets on their heads, using towels as capes, offer them a free sample. I bet they stop, eat, then continue playing.
You can set up your cart inside or outside. You can set it up in the doorway of a room in which you want to contain your kids. The possibilities are limitless. If you're sitting there uncomfortable with the fact that you would in essence be constantly serving your kids, then, my friend, you are in denial as to your role as a parent.
Give it a try.