Something happened last night that was just shy of a miracle.
My kids ate kale.
But they didn’t just eat it. They voluntarily ASKED if they could eat it. Then they gave it a thumb’s up and took a few more bites.
What the…??? How did this happen?? And will they ever do it again?
If you know me, you know I work really hard at getting my kids to eat (and like) their veggies. But I’m convinced that despite all my efforts, this was the result of a perfect kale storm.
The Night of the Perfect Kale Storm
Let me give you a bit of the back-story. Last week, we were at Target and decided to buy a potato masher. Oddly enough, I’ve never owned one, always having used a hand blender to whip my potatoes into submission. But since every Target trip seems to require at least one odd, unplanned purchase, the masher seemed like a low-cost, fun way to let my kids give me a helping hand.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. On our menu: Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Chicken in Milk (crazy, but delicious), mashed potatoes and kale salad. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cooked a full bird, so I was feeling a little overwhelmed, especially with the kids underfoot, so my hubby gave me a break and took the kids to the park.
When it was time to mash the potatoes, they were still gone, so I forged ahead. When they finally returned, my son was devastated that I had the nerve to mash the potatoes without his expert-hand. So, feeling the guilt, I had to quickly come up with another task.
The only thing left to do was the kale salad, our other side dish for the night. But let’s be honest, it was really just going to be MY other side dish and then my lunch for the next few days.
So I hastily handed over the ginormous kale leaves and told my 4-year-old and 2-year-old to start tearing them into small pieces. Amazingly enough, they did a brilliant job at it and wanted another task.
I gave them a big bowl of water and told them to give the kale a bath. The loved it. They then spun the leaves dry and used my nifty chopping scissors to make the kale pieces even smaller.
That’s when I heard a tiny voice say “Mama, can we try a piece?”
I nearly jumped out of my skin, but tried to play it cool with “Sure, every chef needs to taste their work.”
I then tossed on some of other favorites: shredded carrots, dried cranberries and pistachios — and what do you know? They ate it.
Clearly, a lot went into making the kale salad a success. They had been at the park and were hungry (read this post on why play before meals can make a big impact), I’d done my homework in introducing greens to them (using this favorite trick) and they were very involved in preparing the salad.
But here’s the other thing. I hadn’t pressured them at all. Heck, I was so busy basting my bird that I was barely paying attention to them. I’d bet that if I’d purposefully asked them to try the kale, they would have reacted very differently than they did.
The Big Lesson
I learned something else important that night: I’ve been underestimating my kids’ potential. Despite all my best efforts and intentions, I wasn’t planning on giving them any kale salad. And it’s not something I would have ever ordered for them off a restaurant menu. So how many other missed opportunities have their been?
I know I see it happen at play dates all the time. I’ll offer a child some carrots and the parent will quickly intervene and say something like “Oh, she NEVER eats carrots.” Missed opportunity?
So the next time you think your child would never, not ever, eat a certain food, maybe, just maybe you’ll have a perfect kale storm, too.