by EHP on Friday, February 12, 2010
Children are notoriously picky eaters. Some are so selective that they seem to subsist exclusively on pasta, hot dogs, and bacon. Aside from the obvious nutritional deficiencies, this limited diet can become a problem when the child is a guest at Grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner, on a play date, or when the whole family is invited to a brunch that consists of quiche, whole wheat rolls, and salad. Confronted with the possibility that her child will touch no morsel of food at such an event, what is a well mannered mother to do? Does she relay her child’s whimpering request for “just a hot dog, please” to the hostess? No, a hostess is not a short-order cook. Does she drop all adult conversation so she can plead loudly and persistently with her child to “please, please just eat one bite?” No, because she is compassionate to her adult companions. Given that the persnickety child may be enjoying the limelight as he turns up his nose at various culinary delights, the well mannered mother is careful not to encourage complaining. She may shrug her shoulders and say, “oh well, you might want to eat some of this delicious quiche when you are hungrier,” and return to the adult conversation. Or, she may say, “If you don’t like it now, you might want to try it when you are older, since your taste buds change, and as you get older, you might find you like new things,” and thus give the child the opportunity to change his mind, while “saving face.” And in some cases, she may watch her child eat a pat of butter for lunch, secure in the knowledge that it could possibly have more nutritional value than your average Happy Meal. The wise well mannered mother will of course keep a stash of snacks in the car so she won’t have to resort to the Happy Meal on the way home.