My husband and I are in ministry. This brings MANY joys! It can bring challenges as well. One of those directly deals with our kids. We have often been invited to someone’s home (which is ever so kind) to share a lunch, dinner or snack. Forget about the stress it brings to a mom of young children to be in someone’s immaculate, designer home… there’s the food.
Let me say right off, my motto for food is, “I made it, you eat it… or you’ll be hungry.” We make few exceptions. Big girl 1 HATES sweet potatoes. She gags every time we try to get her to eat them. She also HATES hot dogs. She HATES anything with mustard. That’s pretty much it. She eats pretty much everything else. I can’t complain. Once we were at a church function where they were serving hot dogs. She says (to me), “I don’t like hotdogs”… I said in that clinched teeth voice right at her ear, “You WILL eat that hot dog!” Then it dawned on me! Hotdogs are probably the single most unhealthy food on the planet… why does she have to eat it? It will serve her well NOT to like it! So, she doesn’t have to eat hotdogs anymore :). My well intended mother did me a disservice in this area (hope my brother isn’t reading). She fed me what I “liked” which is also a funny story. For a long time (not sure of the time frame but even a few months is long on these terms) my sweet mom would make my favorite foods in rotation. Here was the rotation: Fried chicken (her chicken was divine), chicken and dumplings (also divine- not that store-bought dough either), fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken topped off with???? You guessed it! Chicken and dumplings!! My poor dad said he never cared if he ate fried chicken again. I was a picky eater to say the least. I don’t want that for my kids.
One of my pet peeves is when you have a child and sometimes adults (shame) come to eat at your house and they begin a list of what they don’t like. How rude. Once we had a child friend over and I served chuck roast, potatoes, carrots and I believe cornbread. I was making the child’s plate and he begin to say, “I don’t like potatoes”… “Would you like some carrots?”… “I don’t like carrots.” At this point all my kids and husband are looking at my face waiting for the nonverbal cues that I’m irritated. They were not disappointed. When he had eaten his roast. He asked for more roast. And more roast.
I try to consider this thought: We are not doing anyone, including our children, a favor by allowing them to be ill mannered. I want my children to be enjoyed in the home of another. I want my child to come to a parent’s mind as a child they would like to have over. That being said, my kids are just kids… especially my boys. They are REAL boys. They are just humans, but I want to set them up for success!
So when we go to another’s home we might PRACTICE something like this on the ride over:
Me: Welcome to my home Boy2, Boy3… come on in and sit down… would you like big bowl of snake eye soup? It’s so delicious!
Boy2: (in an excited tone) Mrs. Smith, I’ve never had snake eye soup before… I’ll try a small portion. Thank you so much!
Me: Girl1, For desert I have either worm sausage or cow ear custard? Which one would you like?
Girl1: I’ll try a small portion of Worm sausage please. Just a little though, I’m pretty full from the delicious snake eye soup. Thank you!
That’s silly I know, but it does help. I explain that they will have to eat some things they don’t prefer sometimes. They don’t want to hurt their host’s feelings and need to deal with it in a delicate manner. I also tell them they can tell their dad and me how terrible it was on the way home… Besides, It might just be delicious! If so, I encourage them to ask me (or look for my nonverbal cue) before accepting seconds, or thirds or fourths (so I can monitor the amount of food left for others) and not to ask for seconds… wait to be offered. Make it fun! They’ll remember that!
Several years ago Girl1 came home after a fun day at a friend’s house (all names will be changed to protect the identity of the innocent). She said, “Mom, Mrs. Suzanne served vegetable soup for lunch… it was DISGUSTING. The vegetables were just mushy and there was NO flavor. It was SOOO GROSS! I could have eaten it easier with salt, but there was no salt and I didn’t want to be rude and ask for some”. So I kinda flinched inside and asked, “Well Girl1, what did you do?” Her words were music to my ears, “I ate almost the whole bowl… and it was a BIG bowl mom… there were just a few bites left, and I couldn’t eat it. Mrs. Suzanne offered me more but I told her, ‘No thank you. I’m full. Thank you though!'”… SUCCESS!!!
Practice does bring improvement! Maybe have a bowl of snake eye soup for lunch! If not there is always beaver- bean casserole!