Setting the Table for Three

Today, August 10, is our thirteenth wedding anniversary.  It also happens to be the last anniversary that we will spend as solely husband and wife because, at some point towards the end of September or the beginning of October, we will be assuming the additional titles of mom and dad.  No, we haven’t decided on a name quite yet.

The prospect of raising our daughter is, at any given moment, exciting, petrifying, thrilling, overwhelming, and a big ball of unknown mystery.  As new parents-to-be, we have spent many hours tracking down information that had been all but foreign to us just a year ago, navigating our way through the books and websites of a world that is completely new to us.  Throughout all of this, we’ve tried to maintain a steady grip on reason so as not to give in to the temptations of rampant alarmism, paranoia, and marketing that plague all expectant couples.  I never knew we needed so many things until the helpful magazines told me so.

One thing that I know for certain is that I want to raise a daughter that appreciates food, and the value that cooking and eating together contributes to family unity, and that doing so is going to take time and consistency.  We have an opportunity to shape the blank template of our child’s palate into one that’s open to trying new things, but I also have to realize that there’s some reliable science out there that explains why most kids aren’t adventurous eaters.  I’m perfectly willing to see how much a person’s taste in food is affected by nature versus nurture.  I won’t be able to know for quite a few years whether my efforts were successful.

Do the children of fussy eaters grow up to be fussy eaters themselves?  If I tempt my daughter with the promise of a toy even BETTER than what’s in the Happy Meal, in exchange for eating a home-cooked meal instead, will it work?  Are we doomed to a period of “nothing but” chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or food of a specific color?  I’m curious to find out.

As much as I am apprehensive about these things, there’s an even bigger part of me that’s looking forward to a whole new set of experiences in the kitchen.  I need to learn how to make food that looks like things, for example.  Research into how to unleash my inner Picasso using food coloring and frosting is an absolute must.

I get to introduce my daughter to the joys of picking blueberries on a warm summer day, of knowing just when to flip a pancake, and how to pick the meat out of a crab.  I want her to grow up knowing what real Chinese food tastes like.  I want to involve her in what happens in the kitchen and the garden, so that the concept of cooking is very real for her, and not something that involves opening a package and microwaving its contents, or an activity that requires some artistic level of unique culinary sorcery that only her parents can muster.  I’m sure that there will be some foods and activities that she just won’t take to, but I’ll be proud of her just for trying them once (even though I will secretly hope that she’ll come back to them again when she’s older).

If I can achieve even half of the things on my ever-growing list, I think I could live with that.  All that I know is this – I can’t wait to get started.

I’m going to need a new category tag.  Any suggestions?