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We've all heard the tips on how to get your kids to
Don't give them the option of a different meal.
Tell them they don't have
to eat it, but they do have to taste it.
Include them in the food preparation
Unfortunately, all of these methods are
wishful thinking. I'm sure there's some classy little 3-year-old who just LOVES
grilled salmon and a spinach salad, but in reality most kids don't want what I'm
having for dinner. And, yes, I saw that episode of "Parts Unknown," where Anthony
Bourdain hung out with French schoolchildren in Lyon eating sauce suprème in
the cafeteria. Maybe my children are just not that sophisticated.
As for getting kids interested in food by letting
them cook, I'm here to tell you that there's nothing quite so infuriating as
having your son tell you he wants to help make some recipe, spending money on ingredients
and time preparing it, and then him not taking even One. Single. Solitary. Bite.
I started to believe that there was no way to make a
child eat. That is, until my husband found the one secret weapon that works
every time and has both of my children licking their plates clean.
It started one Sunday morning. My husband and son had
made the four of us chocolate chip pancakes. Even though our little guy
had eagerly cracked eggs, stirred the batter and carefully sprinkled chips into
the mix, he hadn't eaten more than one measly forkful. We were about to go into
our usual spiel about how he needed energy (chocolate energy!) for soccer, when
my husband took out his phone and pulled up some semi-listenable pop song. Just
when both kids were bopping along and smiling, hubs quickly stopped the music.
A heavy silence filled the room and the twins looked at us with confused faces.
"Bruno Mars?" my son asked tentatively.
"If you want Bruno Mars…" my husband said breezily, "take
He had thrown down the shitty pop music gauntlet. And
Both my son and daughter readily shoveled forkfuls of
syrupy pancake into their pie-holes, eager to hear the next stanza.
From that day on, we all had a new appreciation for the
power of a catchy pop tune. The amount of wasted food decreased directly in
response to the increase in terrible music at the dinner table. Megan Trainor
was instrumental in getting the twins to finish their mini bagels. Rhianna
alone helped us get through a pound of cold cuts. In our household, "Who Let
the Dogs Out" was directly responsible for a marked increase in the consumption of
pre-made beef meatballs.
Some families begin each meal with by saying grace, but we
prefer to begin each meal with "Uptown Funk."
"Oh yeah-yeah?" my son asked the other day when we sat
down to breakfast, his way of requesting the Mars hit, "Locked Out of Heaven."
"Eat sausages," my husband instructed. I marveled as my
son stabbed a forkful, thinking that this genius method could put Pedialyte out of
The days of my daughter slithering out of her seat and
my son conveniently telling us he has to go potty at mealtimes is now a thing
of the past. Now they sit still like a perfect little lady and gentleman,
napkins spread on laps, eyes trained on the microwave, waiting to see what
culinary masterpiece I have in store for them.