Mom's Food Rules Vs. Dad's: A Tale of Two Kitchens
I recently had a terrifying experience at the supermarket.
Allow me to preface this story by saying that I try to teach my children to eat healthy, and more importantly to lead by example. We love experimenting with fresh vegetables and trying new things. They know how to read food labels. And they know better than to even ask for a new breakfast cereal until they’ve checked how many grams of sugar it has, and we try to purchase our fruits and vegetables regularly from our local farmers market.
So you can imagine my surprise when we were at the supermarket recently and as we strolled through an aisle my children started screaming over a food item. I mean, literally. “Mommy, can we have this please!.” “Daddy made this for us in London.” “Mommy, pleeeaaase can we have it.”
Their squeals were getting a little embarrassing.
Things got worse when I looked over and saw that all this fuss was over a can of SPAM!!!
I could feel the “how could you?” eye daggers of other moms in the aisle upon my neck.
“Your father gave you THAT??” I said with special emphasis and volume on father, so the onlookers would know that I don’t serve such food.
They were making such a fuss, I just grabbed a can and got out of the aisle. I figured it would sit in the cabinet for years anyway or be shifted into the “Armageddon” survival box.
Previously, before they left for London, my daughter begged to take spaghetti sauce with her. I usually send them with some of their favorite food items that aren’t easily found in England like pancake mix and syrup, Jiffy cornbread and grits. But spaghetti sauce they have. My daughter repeatedly insisted that England did not have pasta sauce in a jar. I insisted that they did.
“Then why does Daddy always give us pasta sauce from a can?” she asked with an attitude as if she was winning the discussion.
That’s when I realized that my children often live a tale of two kitchens. One, at home with me, where things like SPAM would not even be mentioned and another with their Dad where it can be cooked up and served like a meal. On the other hand, the children came back from their time in London with their Dad having tried mutton, eating beans for breakfast as is the traditional English custom, and having tried all sorts of custard creations.
Sometimes there is a cultural lesson in the food. Sometimes there is a healthy lesson in the food. I’m hoping to blend more of the two. But I can’t control what happens when they are with their Dad.
A few weeks ago, after more begging, I finally cooked the Spam for dinner. But before I allowed them to eat it I put the can on the table and said they must read the label first. My daughter couldn’t believe the amount of sodium. My 7-year-old son accused me of trying to give him high blood pressure! Unable to accept that their Dad would eat such a thing, they insisted that the London version of Spam must be different.
I didn’t correct them.
In the end, the SPAM went untouched. Nobody ate it.
And I was glad that it was their choice.
We all cooked together that night, preparing grilled chicken sautéed with fresh vegetables over some brown rice. And I was happy to see that in the end, Mama’s kitchen rules reigned supreme.
Do you and your spouse (or ex) have different food cultures? How do you deal with making sure your kids eat healthy when Dad is on food duty?