What Are You, Chicken?

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BLOG chick pic.jpgDid you know that if you stare at a chicken in a menacing way, it will assume you’re a predator, and it will faint? It won’t come around again until it knows it is safe.

If you have TWO chickens, and you stare at them in a menacing way, they will BOTH faint, and it will take even LONGER for them to come around. Each will wait until the other revives, and because of their mutual uncertainty, the process takes about twice as long.

For years, I had a love/hate relationship with kids’ menus. No matter where you went, they offered the same four things: chicken fingers, hot dog, cheese pizza, mac and cheese. They weren’t delicious, healthy options, but parents and restaurants colluded to create a menu of “meals kids will eat.”

There! A guaranteed no-drama dining experience for mom & dad. No bargaining about the size and number of bites. No stashing pre-cut meats in a napkin. Just happy post-meal bloat.

Some parents go so far as to recreate these meals every day at home for “picky” children. This is an enormous waste of time, especially when you and your children visit another house and they eat something new and LOVE it.

Yes, it happens! “Jeffrey won’t touch vegetables at home, but he ate a whole plate of green beans at grandma’s house.” That’s because grandma won’t cook a box of mac and cheese after all of the other foods she’s lovingly prepared for your family to eat.

blog-baked-beans

“Be right back! Forgot the baked beans… “

Okay, if you’re in a restaurant where the adult entrees are hot dog, mac and cheese, chicken fingers, or cheese pizza, it’s fine to get the same for your kids. (What kind of place this would be, I’m not sure. Maybe you like to dine at the airport.)

When you go someplace special, order the kids something you’d like to eat. The last time I was at Noodles & Company (talk about a kid joint!), my kids “wanted” mac and cheese, yet they ATE almost all of my Indonesian Peanut Saute.

In fact, I’m going to go way out on a limb and tell you where we usually dine. Ethnic. Restaurants. Oh yeah. I’m not talking pizza buffet and Taco Bell. We eat Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Middle and South American, baby. My kids TRY sh*t.

…And they LOVE it. It’s something new they can’t get at home. It’s something we all experience together and enjoy, even if it might be a little strange.

What does eating out with your kids have to do with fainting chickens? This: your little chicks are waiting to see if their food (and everything else in the world) is safe. They will wait forever if you don’t get out and try something new. If you don’t eat anything but the same four unhealthy, bland, unchallenging meals multiple times every day, don’t expect them to pile on a serving of steamed vegetables and enjoy it!

Forget the kids menu! It’s cheating! Go out and order what you want, plus an extra plate. Let your kids split a falafel sampler, or a bowl of pho, or something. Then you can steam some edamame at home (yes, you can), and they will EAT it. You can serve fresh fruit salad, and they will think it’s DELICIOUS. You can make kimchi and it will be ALL GONE the next time you open the refrigerator, but you must lead the way.

Bon appetite, and while you’re here, check out my books about parenting, more parenting and an invasive interstellar virus.

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