Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Look! It's food!
The Journey of the Clown Kids
On Nina’s 3rd birthday, we invited our families to a small party in a restaurant. This was a cafe-based restaurant, so everybody ordered their own food, not ‘makan tengah’ ala Chinese food. Mike was seated next to his Uncle and opposite his Grandpa. These men ordered steaks. When the steaks arrived, the Uncle deliberately separated the fat from the meat. Mike found this fascinating yet confusing, but he was polite enough not to ask. On the way home, he finally asked me “Ma, why did Uncle Rudy cut off the fat from the steak and throw it away?” Oh I so got this, I thought. “Yes Mike, because eating fat is bad for our body. It can cause us bla bla bla...” Mike must’ve heard only the bla bla bla part since he interupted me, sounding impatient “B-b-but, Mama, THAT IS THE BEST PART of the whole meat! Why do you old people always hate yummy food?”
First - apparently for Mike, who is 7 - anyone who is taller than him is called ‘old people’. Second, he has made a super brilliant point here - do we, the old people, hate yummy food? Why does the yummy food bad for us? My doctor friends would probably type all the answers right now, but we are not discussing cholesterol, uric acid, cardiac arrest, or obesity. I am seeing things from my kids’ innocent point of view. Perhaps we should all listen to our kids more (wink)
For a boy who hates trying anything new, Mike is considered doing moderately well in the food department. Like any average kids, he loves all the junk food and the fast food. At the age of 6, he was (already) a huge fan of Japanese food’s unagi, seaweed, salmon sashimi, and cawan mushi, to name a few. Recently my husband introduced him to salmon belly sashimi and tuna sashimi, and he loves them too. But again, with his habit (for not trying anything new at all unless the situation dictates otherwise), introducing a new type of food or drink to Mike usually comes with a struggle from our part. At the age of 3, my husband literally held him and pinched him down to persuade him to try – guess this- Hagen Daaz chocolate ice cream. The scene reminded of my childhood experience taking a spoonful of bitter medicine. The heavy persuasion we do to Michael includes chasing him around, playing hide n seek, doing lame tricks, and creating many white lies. He still thinks that Coke is yucky. He never tries ice tea. He only knows apple, pear, banana, and papaya in his fruit dictionary. Any other fruits are labeled alien. His first introduction to milk (similar to Ultra milk) was during a flight to Hong Kong. I lied to him, saying that the stewardess has run out of water. They only had milk left. So there, between drinking it or flying thirsty, Mike decided - after a long heated argument - to take one sip (literally, one tiny sip only). He and Ultra milk became BFF not long after that tiny sip.
Nina, on the other hand, has shown a much darker side when it comes to food - to chewing and to swallowing food especially. Her average time for finishing one meal is 45 minutes. This is a signifant improvement compare to her earlier years. We still don’t know her food preference. And it drives me nuts most of the time, because I have to order at least 2 types of food for her in the restaurant, in case she decides to have her food mood swing. One day she loved Chicken terriyaki and the miso soup, and the next day she spat out everything with the taste of terriyaki. But, funny thing is, she is a brave little try-everything-type of girl. She introduced herself to wasabi recently, at her own initiative - no pressure from us at all. She seems to enjoy exploring all kind of tastes. Sometimes the taste makes her smile and proudly says in her broken English “I want again!” and sometimes it makes her face cringed “Yuck! Blahhh! This N-O-T nice.”
While we are still guessing over Nina’s food preference, Michael – for sure - was born with my husband’s strong DNA when it comes to food quality. DNA can’t lie. He loves sumsum kambing, medium rare sirloin steak (the fat included), all types of noodle and spaghetti, all types of fried chicken, all types of sashimi, Korean barbecue, and other unhealthy food I am too embarrassed to disclose here. Whatever my husband likes, he likes them too (after persuasive effort of course). At the age of 2.5, Michael has cleverly tricked his classmate to trade off his juicy apple he brought for snack with his friend’s French fries. It was a fair bargain, he must think, one slice of apple over a handful french fries. Needless to say, I felt sorry for his friend.
Environment definitely helps shaping up our children’s food preference. But one thing for sure (and I will argue my point passionately) that every human was born with the food lie detector attached in our blood. It automatically detects which food is yummy and which one is not (unfortunately NOT which food is healthy and which food is not). I’ve tried to shelter Mike from all of those junk food known to men when he was a toddler. But he grows up and makes new friends on his own. As much as I deny it, his friends persuade him better than I do. Before I know it, he shares (unhealthy junk food type of) snacks and lunch with his friends at school. And if one kid brings a McD burger and Indomie for lunch, the other brings chips and curly French fries for snack, the food lie detector is immediately working against me and my shelter. And when I scolded him, “Mike, don’t eat that kind of food. Eat your own food.” He answered me innocently (and bravely, I might add),” But Mamaaa, Mario and Herbert want me to share their food. Ms. E (their teacher) said it’s good to share, so we share...”