When I hear the word bacon, my brain automatically sends a message to my salvia glands, and I start drooling. I like bacon a lot. My husband also likes bacon. Almost as much as he likes cheese. Same with Taylor. But Emily is another story. Emily has what I would gently call a “refined” palette-she east peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, tortilla shells with shredded cheese, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, applesauce and not…much…else. I have struggled over the past five years trying and get her to at least try food, and every time have ended up frustrated, and guilt-ridden. What did I do wrong? Should I have introduced solids in a different order when she was a baby? I hated the feeling of failure, and I worried about Emily’s health. The one thing that gave me solace was my own life-I was born without a sense of smell, therefore, trying new foods has also been difficult for me over the years. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I experienced the joy of potato salad, oatmeal, grapefruit (still working on that one) and many other foods. I am pretty sure that Emily cannot smell, and most of her reluctance to try food stems from the fact that she is judging it only on the way it looks. There are no enticing smells encouraging her brain and. However, Josh and I decided to push her a little, and help her try some of the foods she would never try on her own.
I had made Emily a chart where she could do chores and earn money towards a toy she wanted to buy. She picked Yank, the dog that goes along with her American Girl Doll, Emily Bennett. Josh had the idea to add food tasting to her required “chores”. We explained the rules and started. Each night at dinner, Emily would get a plate with the same food the rest of the family was eating and she had to take at least one bite of each thing. This may sound simple, but in the past it was met with resistance, tears, screams and complete frustration. This time, we tried to be as casual as possible. If she didn’t try the food, she wouldn’t get a sticker on her chart. The first night she cuddled close to me and let me feed her. I can’t even remember what she tried, but she did it, and when she was done, we made a big deal out of it! Lots of high fives and “good jobs!” She was so proud when she put that first sticker on the chart. And so was I. But I wondered, would it last? Day after day, she would cuddle close to me at dinner and let me help her try new foods, and every night another sticker was added to the chart. Then, one night we had green beans. She tasted one and told me, “Hey, I think I like these!” and proceeded to eat every green bean on her plate. Success!! Finally! Since that day we have had green beans several times a week. She has added fruit loops and macaroni and cheese to her list of “likes” and no longer is afraid at dinner to dive in and try something new. And this momma is so happy!
Now back to bacon! One night she was at her cousins’ house and they served pancakes for dinner. Normally Emily likes pancakes, but they were thin pancakes and not what she was used to. Josh’s brother called me up and asked me to come and get her at dinner time, as Emily was crying about the pancakes. I went over and picked her up, asking her why she didn’t like the pancakes. She told me they were different than the ones I make and she was afraid to try new things at someone else’s house. Okay, since this is still new, I didn’t push it. Then, Emily looked at me with a horrified look on her face and in her most anguished voice cried, “And they had…BACON!”
Oh how horrible! 🙂
Here is Emily with her sticker chart and Yank! She is now working towards Felicity, a retired American Girl doll whom I ordered on E-bay. She has 90 stickers to earn before she gets Felicity. So far she is doing great and I am so proud of her bravery! On the surface it may look like bribery, but ultimately we are helping her cultivate a sense of security in trying new foods and new things in life, which is a big deal for my shy little girl. Who knows, maybe next week she will try “BACON!”