A theory that I have been testing was proven last night by my eight-year-old son when he said, “Mom, it’s just that the food is too tasty,” as an explanation as to why he was unable to eat his dinner.
Here is my theory: one of the purposes of parenthood is to successfully kill as many taste buds as possible.
This task should be completed before the child reaches the age that he or she can completely embarrass the parents in the presence of guests or hosts with a rude squishing up of the nose, the disgusted shudder, the eyes widened by terror and the phrase of doom, “Ew! What is that? I don’t like it!” Followed by a reddened face, a nervous giggle and the strained smile on the part of the parent as he or she says to the child with a flash of a death threat and then back to the clenched, forced grin, “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t even tried it?” The sing-songy fakey tone that the parent has employed confuses the child at first and then they quickly realize that no command has been given and the game has begun. This is nothing more than a fun test of wits like in checkers or battleship. A retort is given; unchecked. Child 2, parent 0. The counterattack is a sharp squeeze to the thigh of the child from the parent under the table as a plea for silence. Usually the issue is dropped at this point and another person at the table excuses the child and changes the subject. The parent tries to regain composure and wonders where they went wrong.
All disciplinary discussions aside the problem lies in the fact that these parents did not kill enough of their child’s taste buds when they had the chance. It is a scientific fact that a newborn baby has taste buds covering the whole inside of their mouth: the tongue, the roof, and the sides; everywhere. As the child grows little by little the buds slough off. It is also a fact that our taste buds can die and lose the ability to sense a taste. Once that bud dies there is no regeneration. That is why when you burn your mouth on a cup of hot drink it takes the whole day, if not two days to get complete feeling back to your tongue. They are sensitive little buds. (These facts also lead me to believe the reason Starbucks is so successful is that they are strategically killing their client’s taste buds so there is no diminishing return factor to deal with, but that is another post.)
So as parents we must bombard our children’s tongues with as many different flavors and varieties of foods as we possibly can. Don’t be so fanatical in this venture that you damage the child’s mouth. But do put forth the energy to make your children eat their food. Do not settle for a graham cracker and cheerio diet. No! You have some taste buds to kill!