Friday, November 17, 2006

Keep Stirring.

A news item has been about preventing the advertising of junk food for kids. Now, I'm finding it difficult to understand why children have suddenly become so picky. Searching through my memory cells I recall my mother serving me many foods I did not like (stewed prunes, soggy green cabbage, fish, egg custard, sago pudding) but I was expected to eat them. The only food I would and could not eat were mushrooms although I love them now. Also, I think it was less of a problem because we spent more energy, never had snacks between meals, and came to the table hungry.

When I was first married I remember the first casserole I made and my husband pulling a face and removing all the pieces of onion to the side of his plate. He told me he didn't like onions, his mother (although I doubted it) didn't put onions in, so would I please leave them out in future.
The next time I made the casserole he said it didn't taste nearly as good as the first. I replied "that's because I didn't put any onions in as you requested." Face dropped. The third time, the onions, this time finely chopped, went back in and everything was eaten without any criticism.

When our children were born it was common practise at that time to make baby foods at home. So after the Farex and teething rusk stage, and following the recommendations in the baby books, pureed foods started to be served. These were usually made from what we might be eating ourselves, potatoes, carrots, gravy etc. with no salt. Soft-boiled eggs were commonly eaten sadly not recommended today. Babies do have dislikes, but it is easy enough to disguise one food with another and, unless I was very unfortunate, my brood would eat everything put before them. This could be due to them having ravenous appetites, and with no central heating and plenty of outdoor exercise a body naturally craves for fuel. They also had a strict routine which caused no problems at all. Early to bed at set time, I think this was initially for all of them (I did have three children while the first was under three) but as they grew older, around six years I think it was, at each birthday they were given an extra half hour. And how smug they were when their siblings retired and they didn't have to Mind you, we had no television then. Perhaps that is the cause of many of the problems today.

You may like to hear how I coped with chores for children. When we moved here (with four children by then) the eldest was thirteen. Try as hard as I could they would argue about doing any chores especially the washing up, excuses excuses all the time, yet one daughter, bless her, would come in from school calling out 'I'll put away"'. Such a kind offer. Why couldn't the others be so thoughtful? It took me some time to realise that unless her brother and sisters washed and dried the clever girl knew she never would have anything to put away.
So I sat down and made a chore chart. At the top of the chart the chores were listed (washing up, drying pots, putting away pots, emptying the kitchen bin into the dustbin, feeding the dog, taking the dog for a walk, hoovering, and a few others now forgotten). At the side were listed the days of the week. Then, in the columns, I would write the name of the child chosen to do a set number of chores each and every day, and these were shared around so it didn't get monotonous (if you washed up one day, then someone else did it the next and so on.) By the way, I listed myself as one of the workers so that all was fair in love and war. For a bonus, each week one child had a day off. This they thought was great, as there is nothing like sitting with your feet up watching everyone labour.
Once the chart was pinned up, in truth they couldn't wait to begin. All of a sudden it became so much fun and although they never realised it, they did far more than they had ever (grudgingly) done before.