Everyday this past week, I cooked dinner for my wife. I made tacos, quesadillas, jambalaya, grilled chicken, and even got Mitchell’s Ice Cream (a great SF ice cream maker. Yum!). Luckily, the following morning, she did not call in sick due to food poisoning.
I never had a chance to cook during the school year. Well, okay, let’s be honest: I didn’t have the physical energy to cook. Dinner was always 4 minutes on high, stir, 90 more seconds on high, and let stand for 1-2 minutes. At least they were Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones. If I felt the urge to cook something, my creations would be something that I would enjoy and my wife would abhor.
Kaitlyn: “What are you making?”
Me: “Tuna mixed into mac and cheese.”
Kaitlyn: “Um…. okay.”
Me: “Where are you going?”
Kaitlyn: “Grocery shopping.”
Luckily the children in my classroom are not subject to my tuna recipes. They mixed the food on their own. Here’s a couple of their meal time creations:
Honeydew dipped milk
Pizza with carrots
Chicken dipped in water
Ravioli with cantaloupe
Chicken nuggets dipped in milk
In fact, many of the children’s taste experiments involved dipping food into some liquid.
Living in San Francisco, there was a large variety of foods – across different cultures – available for mixing. There was chow mien, raviolis, pastas, burritos, tamales, soft tacos, salsa, grilled cheeses, edamame, English muffins, scones, hardboiled eggs, and others. You can imagine the food combinations we tried during meal-time. And, anything the children tried, I too was encouraged to try. The chicken nugget in milk was… well, it was bad.
Despite the nervous excitement of “who is going to mix what with what next,” some foods, on their own, were foreign enough to present children with some hesitation.
Child: “Teacher, I don’t like.”
Me: “You didn’t even try the oatmeal?”
Child: “I don’t like it.”
Me: “Try it.”
Child: “I don’t like it.”
This is when being a preschool teacher who eats with children comes in handy. “Look, see, I’m going to try the food.” Putting the oatmeal in my mouth. “See, it’s good,” reinforcing my statement with a thumbs up. This will work, sometimes.
But, let’s be honest, how tasty is oatmeal? It’s not. You have to sell it. And some foods are much harder to sell. However, if you want the children to learn new behaviors, you have to be willing to do them yourself. For me, I have to try foods with them, even if I encounter challenges with my own taste buds.
Me: “Look boys and girls, I don’t like cucumbers. I’m being for real. But, we always try new foods. So, I’m going to try it.”
I’ve never liked cucumbers. So, I build up courage and put the nastiness in my mouth. My face clenching coincides with the infiltration of cucumber taste in my mouth. After a couple of chews, I show my dislike with a thumbs down.
Me: “See, I tried it. I don’t like. But, that doesn’t mean that you won’t like. You might like cucumbers. You should try your own.”
I encourage the children to make their own decision. On this day, there was 2 thumbs up and 5 thumbs down. The children didn’t follow my lead or any other child; they decided on the preference themselves.
So, I guess the whole point of this that everyone out there should try mac and cheese mixed with tuna. C’mon, try it! Someone’s gonna do it 🙂