When my sister was in third grade, my mother had to go to school for a meeting with her teacher. Now, any of you who know my sister will be scratching your heads, as she is, more than likely, the smartest woman you’ve ever met. What would occasion a parent-teacher consultation about a brilliant and well-behaved nine-year-old?
Black Olives . . . Canned, Nasty, Tastes-like-cork, Black Olives.
It seems that the “teacher” had made my sister sit in the cafeteria from lunch period until the end of the school day, because she would not eat the black olives that had been served as part of the delicious and nutritious late 60’s version of school lunch. My mother’s swift and direct response to the teacher’s demand for support in the black olive scandal was to say, “I would not eat something I did not like, if you made me sit there for a month; why would you think I would make my child eat something she does not like? If she does not like something, she does NOT have to eat it.”
(Any of you who know my mother will be envisioning the teacher, hiding under her desk, in a cold sweat; she is as formidable as my sister is smart.)
I was reminded of this event and also recalled the many trials and errors and successes there were in learning what appealed to my sweet autistic child by this little bit of internet levity – http://www.sunnyskyz.com/blog.php?blogid=526%2FAll-Kids-Have-Picky-Eating-Habits-But-These-32-Toddlers-Take-The-Cake – that spawned a lot of pretty unsympathetic and downright nasty responses from some grown-up types.
As an adult with a fully functioning and well-educated palate, I can tell you that my mother NEVER made me try any food I balked at – much less would she have made me eat anything I did not enjoy. As the parent of an autistic child, I also understand and appreciate that certain textures are not just unpleasant to some folks; they are alarming or even painful, so I would not be quick to dismiss the dislike of things like “banana strings” or crust. Here’s some good info about real reasons kids’ palates deserve respect: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maryann-jacobsen/8-things-picky-eaters-wish-their-parents-knew_b_6132398.html
I would also remind all those who are old enough to think they have the right to tell a kid she has to eat her broccoli that there are plenty of foods that would never pass their adult lips. If you think kids should have to eat what is served, be sure you don’t skip the (slimy) green bean casserole or the (mushy overcooked) Brussels sprouts or the (bitter) cranberry relish on the Thanksgiving table next week. . . .
You wouldn’t want to be sitting at the table with a full plate of disgusting-to-you-but-loved-by-others-so-you-must-eat-it-now-cold-as-ice food in front of you while everyone else was watching the game.