My son is a picky eater. Well not so picky as much as a plain eater. He likes his tacos with just meat, nothing else. He will only eat a hamburger if it’s plain with no cheese and it absolutely must not have any sort of condiment except ketchup. He wouldn’t dare put a piece of broccoli in his mouth unless it’s swimming in ranch dressing. I don’t like this as a mom or a chef but he is a kid and I think this is pretty typical of a lot of kids. And I’ve learned to just accept his ways with hopes that someday I’ll persuade him to venture out of his comfort zone.
A couple days ago, I was just beginning to prepare dinner. Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and a side salad tossed in a homemade Italian dressing. In a small pot on the side of the stove, marinara sauce was warming up for my son. Alfredo sauce was beyond my son’s scope of normalcy and I’ve always made a little marinara for him to avoid the pre-dinner meltdown. My son walked into the kitchen and asked if he could help make dinner. I almost cried happy tears. Almost. Ok…maybe I did let a few tears fall. I gather my composure and try to keep my cool as I ask my son to get the butter, garlic, heavy cream and cheese out of the fridge. He happily obliges and gathers all of our ingredients. I walk him through the steps of creating a nice, creamy Alfredo sauce and he is enthusiastically participating. And I’m screaming with delight inside. He’s never shown any interest in anything in the kitchen. I want to ask him why the sudden change but decide its in my best interest to just roll with it and save the questions for the dinner table. I don’t want to scare him away. We move on from the sauce to the salad and here I am showing my 12 year old how to properly dice a tomato and thinly slice a red onion. He’s not cringing and I’m rolling with it. We compete the meal together and call his sister and dad to the kitchen for dinner and what happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
I grab my son’s plate, place his noodles on the dish and go for the marinara sauce still warming on the stove. He stops me and says, “I want the Alfredo sauce this time.” I look at my husband and he stares back at me with bewilderment. I shrug my shoulders, pour the Alfredo over his fettuccine and hand him the plate. And then the most amazing thing happened. He says, “can I please have some salad too?” My husband literally dropped the fork in his hand and stared at our son. I walked into our pantry, out of sight from my son and jumped up and down two times.
Still going with the ‘just roll with it’ mantra, I give my son his salad and we all sit down for our dinner. Nobody has touched the marinara sauce. And nobody has commented on my son quietly enjoying his fettuccine Alfredo and salad in Italian dressing…not drowned in ranch.
Dinner is finishing up and I finally find the courage to ask, “what did you think of the sauce and the salad that we made?” He gives both his seal of approval and dad says, “see you should try more stuff. You’d be surprised what you might like.” And our son says the magical words that inspired this blog post. He says, “well I helped mom make it so of course I had to try it. We put love into it. And it’s good!!”
In that moment, I silently vowed to include him in more meal prep. If he participates in the creation, he is more likely to not only try something out of his comfort zone but actually enjoy it too!!!! He puts his heart into it and that gets it into his stomach. And that makes mom happy. Really happy.
Happy cooking!! Don’t forget to include the kids!!