I woke this morning with this curiosity around the edges of my child’s eating. Like many of you we use an intuitive model of feeding and eating ourselves. We follow our child’s lead and expand what works and are thoughtful about what we bring into the house and work to set an example through our own food relationships. Children’s texture tolerances typically grow developmentally with age and in alignment with their temperament. Trying new food is a risk and some kids are simply going to be those adults who look at food risk and think nope. They will have a smaller array of palate and there is nothing wrong with this when it is balanced with nutritional awareness. So understand when I say navigating the edge, I don’t mean pushing a kid towards a culturally or familial idealized variety of eating. I mean exactly this, staying curious.
What I noticed and why I am writing today is this: I had retreated from the edge of my child’s eating. As the head chef in our home, I had pulled back from the edges of variety because it was safe and I simply lacked energy to face the apprehensive, “Mom what is this?” Any chef will tell you, seeing someone joyfully ravishing your food is worth all the gold in the world. And when someone, even your own child acts like what you’ve cooked is poison, as a food artist this hurts at a level.
So what I am wondering is this: What if I can pull up and out of my need to please and occasionally (likely not every night or there will be a riot), offer something he’s never seen? What if in choosing to make this a conscious and mindful choice for us both we could have an entirely different result than the past? And letting my child know this risk I am asking of him is actually MY need as an artist, not that there is something inherently wrong with his eating. Any food artist knows that cooking the same menu all the time gets BORING and a burnout can happen.
So today I stand in this current truth: As a mother, I have as much responsibility at my child’s edges as I do at his comfort level. Rich and complex human interrelating requires knowledge of both these territories and the wobbly spaces in between. I can tell you in even considering this experiment, there is a growing excitement in me as to what foods/dishes will represent this edge.