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If you serve it, they will eat. Eventually.

Submitted by on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 2 Comments

In the past month, Big Guy has proclaimed fish sticks “delicious” and watermelon “yummy.” He’s swooned over apple cobbler and eaten a rainbow-colored salad packed with greens, tomatoes, zucchini and carrots. He wasn’t wild about the salad, but he did eat it. “It was kind of yucky without dressing.”

And what brought about these epiphanies? The threat of starvation – not from me, but from the schedule at day camp, where everyone eats the same food at the same time and if you refuse, your stomach growls until the next snack rolls around.

Big Guy did pick starvation one day, when some twit decided it’d be a hoot to convince the garlic-allergic kid that the chicken at lunch had garlic in it. Apparently he didn’t like that hungry feeling, because he’s been gobbling formerly rejected food after formerly rejected food ever since.

It makes me sort of wish he could eat school lunch, but those are too prefab and allergy-laden to even bother with. Not to mention it’s thinly disguised junk on most days, and school lets out too early for him to hit seriously hungry if he skips lunch. At the camp program outside food is forbidden so he has to eat what everyone else does, though the kitchen works around the many allergy situations and makes sure there’s something those kids can eat.

And the day camp offerings – just like the day care, preschool and after-school care programs – are far better than any school lunch menu I’ve seen in years. They do have pizza and nachos for snacks maybe once a month, but the meals are actually real meals.

Yesterday it was macaroni and cheese, the real kind rather than the salty excuse for an entree that comes out of a box. There also was the salad, fresh pears and milk. Big Guy ate it all but the pears. So much for the idea that schools serve crap because it’s all kids will eat.

Apple cobbler was the snack, and Big Guy got in the car after camp singing its praises. Never mind that I make cobbler every few months and he’s never let a single bite pass his lips. At home he has only Boots’ and my word for it. At camp he has a room full of trusted friends, aside from the garlic joker, to vouch that it’s good stuff.

Increasingly conscious of late to the fact that my kids are playing me like a Stradivarius, I’ve pressed it at home as well. Two nights ago, I served watermelon with dinner. The guys know I can’t stand the mush-mouth feel of watermelon, though this one was firm enough to be acceptable. Big Guy initially refused.

“I don’t like it,” he said.

“Baloney. You ate it the other day at camp. You can eat it now.”

“I don’t like seeds.”

“It’s seedless.”

I expected to next hear that he likes only the purple watermelon, not the red one, but he gave up. He nibble cautiously before taking a big bite. And then big bites of the next chunk, and the one after that.

“I guess I like it after all,” he admitted grudgingly.

It almost makes me sad that this week is his last of camp this summer. Who knows what he’d wind up eating if he stayed through August.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:

    I think this day camp deserves a gold star…good job, whoever is in charge of the food!

  • Debra said:

    They definitely do! I want to send a few school system people there for a seminar.