I hear the saddest things from parents sometimes.
I hear stories about children who are shooed from the kitchens in their own homes, pushed out because it’s just too dangerous. Doors slammed in their faces because they’ll only slow things down. Desires to help ignored because they’ll just make too much of a mess.
I hear parents complaining about how they *used to* be able to go out to restaurants, and enjoy nice meals. But that was *before* having children. Now they whine about how it takes so long to make separate foods for the little ones and the adults, because children just don’t eat the same dishes. Or they moan about how they have to suffer through a blue box of macaroni and cheese for the third night this week, because that’s the only thing their child will eat!
Why Even Bother?
Do we withhold books from young children simply because they can’t yet read on their own? Or do we read aloud to them, pour over picture books side-by-side, and practice reading with them until they learn how to read by themselves?
Story time, before baking together, at our international Montessori school in Japan
Do we hide every writing instrument from the reach of small hands, because they can’t possibly appreciate them or use them correctly? Or do we offer crayons and markers and pencils and paintbrushes? Do we give them sheet after sheet of paper, and scrub down walls when they write on them, too, in their creative attempt to produce art and the written word?
Do we prevent young infants from walking? Do we just tie them down because they’ll only fall if they try to walk? Or do we hold their hands, slow our own pace, and encourage every single step until they’re off and running everywhere they go?
If we do all these things and more to encourage the development of literacy and mobility in our young children, why is it that we are so hesitant to offer the same graduated introduction to food and cooking? Why would we possibly want to withhold the freshest and most beautiful produce of every season from them, feeding them only a limited selection? Knowing that budgeting, planning, shopping, and meal preparation are important skills that every independent adult would do well to master, why is it that so many parents fear broaching these subjects with their offspring? Why is it that so many of us would prefer to simply do all the work ourselves, then shove the finished plate under the child’s nose.
If we know that variety in colors and textures and flavors appeal to our senses, what is preventing us from extending that same vast selection of colors and textures and flavors to our children?
What messages are we sending to the youngest among us when we deny them the opportunity to practice the process of preparing food for themselves and those they love? Do we really want to convey the message that they are incapable of doing something appropriately, so they shouldn’t even try? Do we honestly want to demonstrate to them that we believe they are not even worthy of our time and efforts to learn?
This is why I do what I do.
I write because I ADORE good food, and it’s a way to share that experience with others who may not live in close proximity to me.
I write because I want to give other parents hope that it really *is* possible to share good meals with children.
Our Little Sous practices braiding dough for a special Easter loaf.
I write because it offers a window into the other countries and cultures in which we live for those who have yet to experience them.
I write because food connects us, helps us to understand each other. I want to raise my son in a world where people love and respect one another. I write to help create that peaceful world.
Are you ready to show your child the respect she deserves, and give her the chance to practice meal preparation in her own kitchen? Are you ready to equip her with the tools she needs, so she can practice being an independent individual? I’ll show you where and how to start.
If you feel as strongly as I do about this, I’d encourage you to share this post with your friends and loved ones. The more conversations we can have about these issues, the better we can work together to create worldwide change!