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Bruno Mars Changed How Our Kids Eat Dinner

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

We've all heard the tips on how to get your kids to eat:

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 process.

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.

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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.

Bruno Mars.

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 another bite."

He had thrown down the shitty pop music gauntlet. And it worked.

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 business.

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.

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And then dinner is served and before long we are chewing away, eating with our mouths open as we sing another off-key chorus of "Party in the USA."

I bet the kids in Lyon would love it.

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