There is a common narrative out there about vegetable gardening and kids. In earnest personal essays, parents talk of their picky eaters shunning vegetables. Then they decide to grow a vegetable garden — an activity that the larger world may not value, but our essayists do! The child is fascinated by the earth’s fecundity. The child tries the vegetables. The child loves the vegetables. The parent celebrates what an awesome parent he/she is.
Or something like that.
Personally, I am not sold.
Here’s the thing. I love food. I’ll take food in any form it comes — as evidenced by my raw egg eating adventure in Japan. I love vegetables. Eating fresh produce is one of my favorite parts of summer.
One of my children seems to have inherited some of this view of food. He downs tomatoes and willingly plugged away at his broccoli. He’s asked me to cook him green beans and the other day he said “Mommy, are peppers good for kids?” and when I affirmed that they were, proceeded to eat a bowl of sliced yellow peppers. He sometimes turns up his nose at chicken nuggets and Bagel Bites (those little frozen tiny pizzas), which I can totally understand.
Another of my children does not feel this way about food. He is unhappy if two foods he likes touch each other on his plate, as if he were keeping some sort of religious dietary rules that no one understands but him. He was fascinated by the tomatoes we grew in our garden. He’d water them. He’d pick them…but pretty much refused to eat them without a huge battle. He is wary of chicken not covered with breading. He will eat egg whites but not the yolks in a boiled egg. He likes tortillas and likes cheese, but will fight over a cheese quesadilla.
These children have the same parents. I did not raise them with different parenting philosophies, if I could even identify what my parenting philosophy is. Indeed, the child who is less adventurous with food is perhaps more adventurous in social situations. I think they just taste things differently, and experience food in different ways. I keep offering new foods to the pickier eater, but try not to push too much, less dinner become an unpleasant battle. Meanwhile, I try not to automatically serve the foodie child kid food, because he might like whatever I cook for myself.
So it is with this family situation in mind that I’ve been trying to ignore the essays about vegetables, gardening, cooking and parenting. If you like to garden, or order stuff from a CSA, great. If your kids eat it, wonderful. But whether they do or they don’t, children are their own people, not extensions of our parenting philosophies. Whether we do a great job or a so-so job, on vegetables or many other things, there’s a reasonable chance they’ll turn out pretty similar in the end.
A sample dinner for me and the kids the other night:
Me: Roast duck, green beans, sweet potatoes with truffle butter. Yum!
Kids: Annie’s white cheddar mac n cheese (organic! As if it matters when it’s mac and cheese). Bananas. Everyone got a little piece of duck, green beans and sweet potatoes. One kid (19-month-old) refused to eat anything, I think because she was getting sick. One kid (3-year-old) ate all his green beans and popped the sweet potato in his mouth. He did not, however, eat the duck. One kid deigned only to lick the sweet potato, and took a tiny, tiny bite of the duck under duress, and complained the whole time.
In other news: A quote on time management from Eleanor Roosevelt, from her self-help book You Learn by Living: “Each of us has…all the time there is. Those years, weeks, hours, are the sands in the glass running swiftly away. To let them drift through our fingers is tragic waste. To use them to the hilt, making them count for something, is the beginning of wisdom.” (Thanks to Alyssa for pointing me to this book)
Nicole and Maggie have a post on silly things people say about gifted children.
Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Ultimate Beach Reading guide is out (free if you sign up for her once a month newsletter).
And All the Money in the World will be out in paperback next week Tuesday (May 28). If you haven’t read it yet, I’d appreciate your picking up a copy, particularly in the first few days it’s out. I would also appreciate if you request your local library order it. Thanks so much!
Photo courtesy flickr user poppet with a camera