Sunday, January 29, 2006

Try it! You'll like it! Rah! Rah! Rah!

Published January 29, 2006
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

The other night, I decided to make one of my favorite meals from my childhood. It's nothing fancy, would never be referred to as gourmet, but it's comfort food for me. Just ground beef, brown gravy, and a bed of egg noodles, and I'm in home cooked heaven.

My children, unfortunately, weren't as sure. As I served my lovely, steaming creation, they eyed their plates suspiciously. Ray poked his noodles with his fork, as if afraid to wake the sleeping monster within. Miriam wrinkled her nose in her best little girl fashion. Evelyn asked what else there was to eat.
Doing my best to keep my voice light and happy, I told them all about my >childhood memories of this meal. I explained how their grandmother used to make this for me, how much I loved it, how good it tastes, and how I knew they would come to love it too. Like a cheerleader at a high school pep ally, I waved my metaphorical pom poms and practically sang, "I love noodles, yes I do! I love noodles, how 'bout YOU?"

And that's where I lost them. What I'm learning about kids, at least my kids, is that the more I build something up, the more likely they are to decide it's not worth their time at all. If my introduction goes over 15 seconds, they're bound to get smug, "The lady doth protest too much," looks on their faces and snap their mouths shut in protest.

I can certainly understand their logic, but I'm really not trying to pull a fast one at the dinner table. I genuinely like beef and noodles, and I'm sure they'd like it too, if they'd just give it a try. And my kids aren't picky eaters by any stretch of the imagination. They devour salad and beg or spinach juice and think broccoli's the best thing since cauliflower. That's why it's always such a shock when they refuse to try something >completely normal like beef and noodles.

What I'm trying to remember is that I was that kid too. I'm sure my mother >genuinely likes shrimp creole, eggplant parmesan, and granola (blech!). I'm sure she could do everything short of a three ring circus and skywriting to try and convince me I'd love them too. But if she put a plate of any of those in front of me, I'd wrinkle my nose and snap my mouth shut in protest.

I won't stop trying to get my kids to try new cuisine, but I do think I'll change the method of delivery. Instead of touting all the wonderful >qualities of a new dinner I make, I think I'll try telling them it's the most disgusting thing they'll ever taste, and I don't think any of them is brave enough to try it.

And if they fall for that, I've got a few fences they can paint too.