FreshKids Pretzel Stix & Bird

Fun with Pretzel Stix

BY SELENA KOHNG | www.howaboutcookie.com

FIND THE FUN AND KEEP AT IT

My first child has always been a champion eater. From the moment his lips touched solid food as a baby, everything was a delight: sweet potatoes, peas, yogurt, and eventually olives, sweet peppers, veal, curried chickpeas, ratatouille — you name it, I furiously googled its recipe, and he ate it.

“I got this,” I would think to myself. I had this mothering thing down pat.

Then, of course, came along my second precious bundle of joy. Multiple kids, as you know, is the universe’s way of keeping you humble. None of my old recipes impressed him; even hide-the-veggies tricks didn’t work. I got tired. Juggling a toddler and a preschooler is no joke.  I did what any reasonable, health-conscious mom would do: counted the blessings of pb&j.

Fast forward several years, and my “picky” eater was starting kindergarten. The thought of him not eating his lunch in the middle of a long school day was too much for me to handle. I spent hours online, scrolling through Pinterest, taking notes on school lunches, bentos, and food art. They were adorable—irresistible, honestly.

“Oh my god,” I remember thinking. “Who has time for this?”

As it turns out: me. I had time for it. There was something so alluring about the idea of making fun food. The ability to let kids have fun at mealtime, the creativity of presenting things in new, unexpected ways, the fact that kids are chowing down on something other than pb&j—I really couldn’t think of a reason not to get started.

So I started small, making a simple lunch for that fateful first day of school. Let me tell you: if you think we food art bloggers do this for the money (ha!) or the publicity, you’d be wrong. The sole reason I kept going beyond that first lunch was this: the look on my little boy’s face. It wasn’t just happiness; it was a light bulb turn on, this expression of “I can tell I’m really important to you”. And that doesn’t mean that I always need to make fun lunches for him, because I don’t. But in that moment, he realized that his relationship with food could be positive—even fun. It didn’t have to be an inventory of what he likes and what he doesn’t. It didn’t have to be a battle at the dinner table, his parents hovering over him and using food as a threat or reward. And it could be healthy and delicious at the same time.

So whether you decide to take a stab at this food art trend or not, I’ve learned the greater, perhaps more poignant lesson here: find the fun and keep at it. It’s one of the best ways to get this mothering thing down pat.

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