You learn quickly as a mom that whatever your little one can reach goes into his mouth! Nothing is safe or out of bounds. Your lipstick, dog food, a mushroom out of the front lawn, gravel at the playground, cat littler, toilet paper, bugs, toys, jewelry, grass, mouse turds, beetles, ABC gum (already been chewed), everything! It is a matter of curiosity really! Of course we know what not to put into our mouths from experience. If it crawls, I run in the other direction. But I've seen kids pick bugs off the ground and eat them. Other cultures enjoy bugs as part of their normal cuisine, so as long as you are careful to know which kinds are edible, be adventurous. I don't think I would last long on a survival reality show. Kids, however, don't think twice.
When they hit elementary age (and some don't wait that long) it's a chore to find anything they will eat! However, my husband and I were never of the mind to cook individual meals to cater to each one's personal taste or preference. We only served two entrees per evening for dinner: "Take it or leave it!" Nevertheless, it wouldn't be long before our guys knew that if they turned their noses up at what was offered for dinner, they would be going to bed hungry! So many children on earth go to bed hungry... we are a privileged minority. It is a good experience for our kids to know what it feels like to get hungry and be hungry overnight. They won't be so quick to turn down a healthy meal the next time it is placed in front of them. Besides, it teaches them gratitude for what God has provided.
Then there was the always popular "No Thank You Helping" of vegetables which every boy got when we sat down to dinner. Even if it wasn't the favorite green thing they ever ate, they would get a small amount to choke down. Yes, we spent hours at the supper table, coaxing, cajoling, bribing, hoping they would finally give in. It's not a bad idea to store the despised food item in the fridge to offer again the next morning for breakfast. I don't remember if we ever went that far (that may border on plain mean in some people's minds) but I do recall plenty of tears and pathetic whimpers with the phrase "horrible parents!" tossed in.
When our boys reached the high school years, we couldn't keep enough food in the house. Our friends who had only girls couldn't believe what we spent on our groceries. The most common phrase in our household during those years was "There's nothing to eat around here!" Especially with three guys into sports and all kinds of other activities, they rarely suffered a loss of appetite.
I had a friend whose son was also on the wrestling team in high school. After their season had finished, he and his buddies decided to go to an "All You Can Eat" Chinese buffet to celebrate the end of their commitments to goal weight. They sat and ate for two and a half hours until the owner finally came up to their table and scolded, "You go home now!" That restaurant definitely lost money that night!
We can relate. When they finally go off to college is when they begin to truly appreciate your home cooked meals. One can only take so much of cafeteria/dining hall food. All three sons were glad to be home for long weekends, or during winter or spring break to enjoy some of our family's favorite dinners, especially the years that they were living in apartments with other guys. It was rare to find a roommate in a dorm/apartment setting who loved to cook or even knew how to cook. We tried to teach our guys some basics, but it just isn't a guy-thing! They have since all learned to pitch in in the kitchen and the older two help their wives a great deal with meal-making in their homes. Truth be told, they probably regret not learning quite a bit more when they were younger, but manage fairly well now.
If you moms out there want to really earn some kudos, teach your sons to cook and help out in the kitchen...their wives will thank you some day. Moreover, they will lead a healthier lifestyle if they aren't regulars at the local fast food drive through!