Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Exception To The Rule

We have a rule in our house that if I serve something for dinner, the wee ones have to try it. It’s ok if they don’t like it, but they at least have to try said item.

And by trying, I don’t mean putting your tongue somewhere in the vicinity of the fork and deciding you don’t like it. Trying means actually putting a piece, even if it’s fairly miniscule, into your mouth and chew and swallow it.

I had to instate this rule after some of the wee ones’ favorite foods were vetoed. As in “Mommy, this is YUCKY!” when a week before they had tried and loved it. And when I made them try the food again, shockingly, they loved it again. It’s also been a great way to get them to eventually like new foods like salmon and edamame, which took lots and lots of trying and not liking before they finally liked it.

For Mister Man, this has sometimes been a challenge, and there are some foods I know not to make him try. He has a texture issue, which I can somewhat relate to. I don’t like certain textures mixing, so I have a hard time with rice pudding, mushrooms, tofu, squid, etc. They just don’t feel right in my mouth. Mister Man takes it a step, ok a marathon, farther.

When they were babies, I made all their food. It was pretty easy. You bake a sweet potato and then mash it with a fork, put it into ice cube trays, freeze it, and voila, instant baby food. One of their favorites was avocado. I’d simply cut the avocado in half and scoop out baby size portions at a time. Usually, I’d plan to have half the avocado myself and share the other half with them, but it didn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I’d end up with none because they loved it so much.

Somewhere along the line, avocadoes went out of season, and I didn’t feed them to Mister Man for awhile. When I got an avocado again, he refused to eat it. I’d try to get it near him, but he’d scream and turn away. Since this was before he talked (and he was a LATE talker) and before I instituted the rule, I let it go. My mistake.

One day, I went out to eat with a friend and accidentally grabbed Little Miss’s bib from breakfast instead of a clean one for Mister Man. The one from breakfast had a small bit of avocado on it. Mister Man saw the avocado on the bib and gagged himself until he puked. I learned my lesson, I really did.

Or so I thought. Tonight was lemon chicken kebobs. Since they’re kebobs, they come with tomatoes (a texture I won’t force on Mister Man), onion (which I won’t force on either of them), and red peppers. They had to try the red peppers. C’mon, they’re sweet and a little crunchy but nothing gross.

I finally convinced Mister Man to try a tiny sliver of his pepper after he’d eaten all his chicken. He put it in his mouth, chewed twice and declared he didn’t like it. I told him to take a quick drink of water and swallow it. He started to gag as he picked up the cup. I told him to drink it down. He took a drink. And kept making the “yuck, I-can’t-believe-this-is-in-my-mouth" face. And gagged again. He tried another drink, but it wasn’t to be. By the time my husband (who was not completely across the table from him like I was) reached him, he’d managed to throw up the pepper and much of the chicken he’d eaten. Apparently red peppers are not Mister Man’s favorite food. Who’da thunk it?

On the plus side, as soon as he got cleaned up, he asked if he could have the ice cream sandwich I had made for dessert. Apparently, he got over it.


Karen June 18, 2008 at 7:29 AM  

We have the try-it rule, too. We also instituted the eat-as-many-bites-as-you-are-old on foods like peas or beans that they can tolerate but don't like.

Swistle June 18, 2008 at 8:24 AM  

We have the same rule! And, occasionally, the same resulting barfing!

Mabunny June 18, 2008 at 8:36 AM  

LOL , totally know what you mean about food textures. I hate mushrooms, I don't want those slimy things with chicken, eggs or anything else you can put mushrooms in.
my husband and I love salmon, and the first time I made it , Nicole came in said something smelled good so I made her try it. She asked me what it was and I didn't tell her until AFTER she ate it and said it was good. She found out that salmon was a fish and nope, now she won't go near it... /sigh...
I know when I was little I didn't eat many veggies but corn and peas.
Now I don't like peas so much, but have added broccoli, cauliflower, squash and zuchinni, and limabeans. and green beans to my diet. So I've gotten better as I've gotten older about my picky eating beginning.
Hopefully Nicole will grow out of this too, lol.
Have a great day Michelle

Kellan June 18, 2008 at 8:58 AM  

Cute post! I have been lucky to have 4 kids that will eat most anything. I like your rule of trying foods - it does help them to find lots of things that they like. It's hard living with picky eaters. I am not sure why my kids aren't picky - I think it had with withholding food (the good foods, steak, lobster, shrimp ...) from them and then they would beg for them because they figured if they weren't being allowed to eat my foods that I must have the "gold" food - they were right - HA!

Nice to see you - Have a good day - Kellan

Cookie June 18, 2008 at 10:44 AM  

I know what you mean! My kids used to love asparagus and green peas. Now I can't get them to look at either without making a face! What happened to these kids?!?! As for the puking at dinner. My kids did that for a while. It's amazing how they can puke at will. When I couldn't take the almost daily puking at dinner (although this makes for a great diet technique! I suddenly lose my appetite when I see puke at the dinner table.) I told them if they couldn't eat dinner, then they couldn't eat dessert or snack later. And suddenly the puking stopped! I know all kids are different. so good luck finding what works for yours!

Michelle June 18, 2008 at 10:37 PM  

Karen - So far, the wee ones either love foods or hate them, but I'm keeping that rule in the back pocket for when we get to the tolerating foods stage! Thanks!

Swistle - Little Miss has never puked or even gagged. Mister Man we know has sensory issues (part of his overall issues), but it's good to know that he isn't the only one!

MaBunny - Oooo, I forgot about mushrooms. I can't stand mushrooms. I also for some reason can't stand to have meat and cheese mix (except things like tacos and cheeseburgers) -- chicken parmesean so grosses me out, for example. Thanks for reminding me ;)

Kellan - Count your blessings! I will say that they love to share with us (and have us eat their foods). Interesting theory, but I have a feeling they're too smart to have that strategy work at this point!

Cookie - I have to keep asparagus in the mix; good reminder. Little Miss looooves it. I'm somewhat loathe to use the "you can't have a treat if you (don't) X." There's a ton of emphasis on sweets already with my parents, and they're around frequently enough. They do know that if they do certain things they'll get in trouble and lose treasured items. Puking unnecessarily (I'll give a warning if I feel it's not necessary) is part of that regimen. And it generally works. Yesterday truly was a sensory issue, poor kid!

anymommy June 18, 2008 at 11:57 PM  

This is my rule too! Last night my two year old son absolutely refused to try noodles (?). Weird, kid loves them. I told him he would have to try them for breakfast if he got down without trying and I stuck by that this morning even though I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or not. He did try a bite. He REALLY wanted his oatmeal this morning. Parenting is so much harder than they tell you!

Steph June 19, 2008 at 7:53 PM  

I feel your pain, but it sounds like you have a beter time then I do, I always lose when it comes to getting the kids to try new things.

Michelle June 20, 2008 at 9:49 PM  

Anymommy - Yay! Someone else who feeds their children oatmeal for breakfast. My husband thinks that's unnatural. Glad it worked for you and that he ate the noodle for breakfast at least!

Steph - If by "better time" you mean lots of screaming and gnashing of teeth (that was by me) and temper tantrums and nights without dinner until the child an hour later decides he is hungry, then sure I have a better time than you getting my children to try something new. It was really hard to start. I'd put a single spoon or fork with a tiny amount of the food to be tried on the plate with nothing else on the plate. Once they ate that, they were given either more of the food they tried if they liked it or one of my backup foods if they didn't. They finally figured out I meant it, and since then, it's been much easier. We still have an occasional disagreement, but they know the rule.

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