When I was 10 years old my fourth-grade teacher, with parent-like conviction, insisted I eat the vegetable in my school lunch. When I refused, I was sent to the principal's office and forced to miss recess.
When I became a dad, I discovered my girls resembled me in more ways than just physical looks. They shared my childhood aversion to veggies. Like old Miss Smith, I insisted they eat cooked carrots and asparagus. I threatened them with consequences if they failed to comply. No ice cream after dinner. No TV after bath time.
The battle over veggies became a nightly war. When the despised foods finally disappeared off their plates, I assumed they'd been eaten. I was wrong.
Years later I learned about the creative ploys my daughters used to clean their plates. Once when the girls were home from college, they confessed to stuffing asparagus in their socks, wrapping broccoli in their napkins and feeding our shih tzu under the table. "And you thought we'd learned to like veggies!"
I thought the laughter would never cease.
In retrospect, those battles over Brussels sprouts were unnecessary conflicts. The emotional casualties were not worth with the supposed victories. When it comes to raising kids who are healthy physically and emotionally, we have to decide which hills we are willing to die on. A hill of beans — or cooked veggies — need not become Mount Everest. Our kids can get their daily-recommended allowance of vitamins and nutrients by eating cold carrots or raw broccoli. My girls didn't seem to gag on those. Helping our kids eat healthy can be creatively defined and fun. My girls loved celery sticks smeared with peanut butter and dotted with raisins.
And by the way, the dislike of certain foods seems to go away about the same time zits clear up. Today our grown girls don't attempt to hide asparagus in their socks or feed the family dog. They ask for seconds.
Copyright © 2010 by Greg Asimakoupoulos. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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