It seems my whole life has been spent feeding others. Obviously, not my earliest years, but since I was about five I have been cooking, baking and feeding others. In those many years, my role as a “feeder” has shifted and evolved, but it has stayed with me. The crux is that I love to cook and I love to feed people. And yet, feeding others has a way of starving critical bits of your own self.
To be in the role of feeding others is often to be also in the role of looking for affirmation. As a cook, there is nothing better than the seat dance of a happy eater. A case in point? Several days ago my son’s friend was over for a play date and after eating lunch, I gave her a brownie. The batch was a gluten free disaster so I simply put the overly-gooey brownie in a bowl, warmed it in the microwave, squirted some whipped cream on top, and presented it, voila! Remember that special scene in When Harry Met Sally? That was our little lunch guest. “Ohhhhh. Ahhhhhh, this is soooooo gooooood! Ohhhhh!” Seeing her in obvious ecstasy was both funny and affirming. Here was someone who definitely liked what I was feeding her.
I grew up singing along with my mom and dad, otherwise known as the Hippy and the Blue Grass Aficionado respectively, so my childhood repertoire deviated from the Solid Gold hit list. However, it allowed me to sing along with Arlo Gutherie on more than one occasion: “You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. Walk right in it’s around the back, Just a half a mile from the railroad track, You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.” It still comes in handy these days when I don my Chief Food Maker hat.
I’d like to just start out by I have consciously chosen to raise my children in some different ways than my parents raised me. Take the “Clean Plate Club” for example. Talk about overrated. I have no empirical data other than my behind to support this, but I’m pretty sure that lovely idea just encourages kids to grow up with some pretty deep seated eating issues. So, my kiddos have never been told they have to eat everything on their plates. Try to manage a few more bites, yes; eat past the point of being full, no. It seems to be a fair idea to me.
Of course, such fairness is tested time and again by living with a picky eater.