At some point in history someone said variety is the spice of life. Well I say poo. I say bring on nailing down some staples so that your kid will actually eat at dinner time, then variety comes next. Variety comes after he finishes gobbling something up when we are guests, but then acting like it’s toxic waste when I serve it to him at home. It’s frustrating to know the flavour or texture or je ne c’est quoi of a food that turns his tummy, but when I hide it in tomato sauce it goes down like a bat out of hell. I guess there is proof in the adage mind over matter, or rather sneaky parent over child.

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In addition to this there is a whole new kind of irritation that presents itself when trying to get him to eat when I’m not there!  The little stinker gets all excited about dipping dogs at home, but when I open up his Tupperware I find he hasn’t touched it at school. In my mom’s infinite wisdom she bestowed unto me The Best Homemade Kid Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes. Hefty claim for a book ,but it could help me solve some problems, provided he doesn’t feel like doing an “esparament” at lunchtime instead of eating his food.

The book says it is flexible to accommodate allergies, and it is to some degree, but it is dairy heavy (we are off it) and nut sprinkled, which is problematic for school. I also think there are some things that are just better hot than stuck in a lunch bag with a cold pack. I would like to say that I will go through making the more than 200 nutritious meals in this book to see what The Ginger Menace might eat, but as I will be packing his lunches for the next 13 years I will just give you the highlights!

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Cracking the book (yes for the first time since Christmas mom) I see some of the recipes  are very unkind to fairy folk – no one should be having Grilled Leprechaun! With the way my son feels about broccoli I doubt he would like a cold grilled goat cheese sandwich with his least favourite vegetable smushed inside, but I could be wrong. He could also really like pesto! If I can get a dairy replacement for the cream cheese I think he would love the Angel Food Sandwich. Cream cheese and whipped cream on whole wheat bread with strawberries and bananas.

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However I am intrigued by the Grilled Taco Sandwich. The Ginger Menace loves, adores and slightly idolizes taco night. When eatting them he consistently asks for it the following night. This may have something to do with one of his favourite books Dragons Love Tacos,  by Adam Rubin. He has memorized the ingredients: tomatoes, cheese, lettuce – but absolutely no hot sauce, because hot sauce in a dragons mouth becomes an incendiary device! Something tells me we will have taco night tonight and get creative with the leftovers.

That’s what the meat and cheese of parenthood is. Not just the opportunity to get creative because there are markers and glue and sparkles around, but to find an approach that doesn’t set off any of the usual kid alarms. In a very hectic shedual I want dinner time to be a sanctuary and not eight rounds of me against you.  When it actually happens I feel like this is real time where we focus on how important we are to each other, put concerns about food aside and just eat.

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About the Author

Kelly Wilk is a freelance writer and single mom to a six-year-old, red-headed, Irish, Aries boy who is growing up way too fast. Follow them on PinkPlayMags' parenting blog "The Ginger Gent" (www.pinkplaymags.com). Also, find Kelly on her own website and blog, Brave. Creative. Me at www.kellywilk.ca.