At dinner this evening I found myself following some advice from Aviva Goldfarb, of Six O’Clock Scramble fame, that I’d already set down in print in my article on her family-friendly meal-planning service. As she put it then: “Instead of making a big deal if they don’t like something, say ‘Well I’m glad you tried it. Our taste buds mature as we get older so maybe next time you’ll like it.’”
So tonight, as I set a Scramble meal before Will – comprised of tri-color rotini, and a sauce with crushed tomatoes, red onion, garlic, red pepper, eggplant, squash and spices – he gobbled up the parmesan-covered pasta but turned up his nose at the pepper, eggplant and squash. This was no surprise, as Will has been rejecting all three of those vegetables for several months now even though I keep presenting to them in different combinations and in various dishes here and there.
So I said, “Just try one bite of this eggplant. You know, as you get older you start to like more and more things. So you might be old enough now that you’ll like it this time.”
Will looked at me skeptically for a moment, and then he must have thought to himself, I AM older. Because soon he was trying that eggplant and expressing great satisfaction at its taste. And then he went right on to gobble up some squash and red pepper too.
“I used to not like squash or red pepper, but now I like squash and red pepper!” he exclaimed. And looking at Rob, he explained: “But see, as you get older you get to like things you haven’t tried. You say, “Hmmm…” (dramatic pauses as if considering a flavor) “That’s yummy!” And then he turned to me, the mom he knows is all too frequently trying to feed him leftovers the night after I debut a new meal. “So tomorrow you can give me this again!”
Then I thought, why not push my luck and suggest that he actually eat one of the token pieces of Romaine lettuce that I’d put on his plate (as I very often do along with a few slices of carrot) just in case tonight is the night that he suddenly realizes he can tolerate raw greens. I knew I needed an extra edge here, so I mentioned the very true fact that he might not like it yet, but that his four-year-old friend Ella LOVES to eat salad.
Will was sold. Granted, he only ate one piece of lettuce but it was a whole piece and that’s more lettuce than he’s eaten all year.
“I like it!” said Will. “Daddy I like the lettuce that Ella had. Ella likes the lettuce too.”
And to top it all off, just minutes after he finished dinner, I caught Will in this teetering pose. “Wow, where’d you learn how to do that?” I asked.
“Ella taught me how to do ballet,” he said.
So tonight, I send out a hearty thank your to nearly-five-year-old Ella who has taught our crude son to appreciate some of the finer things in life – whether it be salad greens or demi-pliés.