Boy oh boy, does that get my panties in a bunch.
Benjamin, our 3yo, doesn’t eat lunch at school (daycare), only snacks. It is probably there though that he heard other kids mention descriptive words for food. Perhaps it’s the way the word sounds to him that compels him to try it out at home. Perhaps he’s imitating someone, or just testing the waters. Either way, I’m not impressed. This is only PRESCHOOL for god’s sake. What will happen when he has to start eating at school?
Look. We eat well. Yes, we eat candy and junk occasionally, but mostly, we focus on a whole food diet.
We grow food.
We shop for food at farmer’s markets, butcher shops, grocery stores and bakeries.
The children watch, and participate, in making food into meals.
They like to pick food, sample food, and eat food.
Make no mistake, we have our food challenges. The 3yo sometimes is so picky I have to physically restrain myself from lecturing him and focus on the big picture. Has he eaten well earlier? Yesterday? All week? There are times when he survives on milk, yoghurt and apples. And then there are times when he needs to dip everything into ketchup. But for the most part, he eats a well-balanced, albeit small diet, and prefers raw fruits and vegetables to cooked ones. So when he asks for candy or cookies, I give him some. Good quality chocolate, home baked treats, and occasionally the junk he sees others eat.
The baby too is well on her way of eating a balanced diet. She eats with gusto, shoveling it in with both hands, or cutlery, when she likes it, and spitting it all over the kitchen when she doesn’t. She knows what she likes, how to take it even when it’s not hers, and what to do with it when she considers herself full (dump it on the floor).
All in all, we manage to nourish ourselves without too many issues.
So when Benjamin decides to sit at the dinner table and annouce that the food on his plate is “yucky”, I get really pissed off.
This happened the other day.
I made a stew in the crockpot. There were beef chunks with potatos and carrots cooking all day, scenting the air with a pleasant fragrance. I know for a fact that he has eaten all the ingredients in the stew, and liked them.
Knowing how small his appetite can be however, I placed tiny amounts of food on his plate. Two cubes of beef cut up into smaller bits, three potato pieces, three rounds of carrot, and a bit of gravy in the middle for dipping (I don’t like sauce!).
I do the same for the other one, and make myself a plate.
When he arrives, he takes a look at his plate and says “yucky”.
That’s when I lost it. And I launched into it:
Don’t you ever call my food yucky again. Do you hear me? Food is not yucky! Especially not the food I make for you! Do you realize how many children don’t get any supper at all? How many children right here in this city go to bed hungry at night? Do you know that they can’t go to daddy and ask for a peanut butter and jam sandwich whenever they feel hungry? You like all the food on your plate. You had it before. You even helped daddy buy the meat at Hugo’s! Remember? Now sit down and eat your food. There will be no milk, no peanut butter sandwiches, or anything else until you finish your supper.
I felt bad afterwards for yelling at him. Or for drawing him a picture about hungry children. He’s only 3, but at the time I was distressed and fed up, and didn’t think of the consequences my speech would have on him.
Anyway. He ate some of the meal. And got milk afterwards.
So far, he hasn’t used the word “yucky” again, at least not in my presence.