(note: this is not about vegetables)
Newsanchor: Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of “Ask a Parent”. I’m your host, Bill. Tonight we’re in a small town in the buckle of the “Bible Belt”. We’ve got a unique opportunity to talk to two different families about their children’s eating habits. (Walks into the front door of a home, and enters into a dining room. We see a parent, maybe two, dining at the table. Their plate is full of mostly vegetables.) Hello, and thanks for having us over!
Parent 1: No problem! We love having people over, especially when they want to ask us about our love for vegetables!
Newsanchor: That’s great. But actually, we’re here to ask you about how much your children love vegetables. Is that okay?
Parent 1: Oh sure. Although, we wouldn’t exactly say they love their vegetables.
Newsanchor: Oh no?
Parent 1: No. But they will, someday.
Newsanchor: So what sort of response is there so far?
Parent 1: Oh wow, we don’t actually give them vegetables these days! (look of disbelief on their faces)
Newsanchor: Oh? Why’s that?
Parent 1: Well, we actually want them to enjoy vegetables someday. That’s not going to happen if we force them down their throats, is it? There was one restaurant that covered vegetables in cheese so you couldn’t realize what you were eating anymore….but once the kids discovered what they were eating, it didn’t work as well. They’ve already told us they don’t enjoy eating them. So for now, we’ll just wait. That way, whenever they choose to start eating them, they won’t blame us for making them see vegetables in a negative light.
Newsanchor: Ah, I see. But what if they never decide to start eating them on their own?
Parent 1:………..well…..they will. They have bodies, bodies need to be healthy, and vegetables are healthy. It’ll naturally be something they come to. Someday when they’re older, we’ll all sit down to this very table, and eat our vegetables together. It’ll be great. (looks off into the distance, imagining that great day)
Newsanchor: (to the camera) Well there you have it, our first family of the night. As you can see, they’re very confident in the natural attractiveness of healthy vegetables. Let’s walk just a few steps away (leaves the home, and walks next door to the neighbors home. Enters through the front door to walk into another dining room. Again, we find the parent/s sitting at the table, this time with a plate of nachos.). Hello, and thanks for having us over!
Parent 2: No problem! You hungry? We’ve got plenty!
Newsanchor: Well thanks for the offer, but it’s hard to talk with my mouth full!
Parent 2: (mouth full) Oh yeah, I understand, no problem! (swallows) So, you wanted to talk to us about food, right?
Newsanchor: Well, more specifically, we wanted to ask you about your children and their eating habits. How do they feel about vegetables?
Parent 2: I’m not completely sure. Doesn’t quite matter to me what how they feel about them…should it? They’re growing, and they need vegetables to stay healthy. So I make sure they eat them.
Newsanchor: How do you make sure of that?
Parent 2: Oh, well, I’m always asking them to make sure they take vegetables to school with them. I’ve bought them books on vegetables, and I’m pretty sure they’ve read them. I’ve reinforced the benefits of eating vegetables, and told them their bodies would waste away and die without them.
Newsanchor: You must really enjoy being able to sit down to a meal of vegetables together as a family, eh?
Parent 2: Oh…well….you see, we don’t actually eat vegetables ourselves. We just know it’s probably a really good and necessary thing for the kids. It’s how our parents raised us, so we figure we would honor that tradition by passing it down. We’ve also found this great restaurant down the street, that serves vegetables in so many different ways. We love dropping the kids off there for a meal, knowing they’re eating well.
Newsanchor: Oh, so you don’t actually eat vegetables?
Parent 2: Nah. It was good for us growing up and all, but now that we’re older, we’re doing okay. We remember what vegetables were like. We still have plenty of friends who eat them, and so it’s a bit like we still do sometimes. We’re so glad to have our kids growing up with the experience of vegetables.
Newsanchor: So do your kids like vegetables?
Parent 2: Like I said, I’m not too worried about them liking vegetables. They need them, and we make sure they get them.
Newsanchor: So what will happen as your children get older? Will they continue to eat vegetables?
Parent 2:……..Um…I’m not sure. Probably. You should see some of the pictures they’ve colored. They’re really into vegetables. (stares off into the distance, remembering those colored pictures..)
Newsanchor: Say, could you give us directions to that restaurant you take the kids to sometimes?
Parent 2: Of course! Oh, you’ll love the chef there, he’s great with kids especially. Really knows how to get them to eat vegetables. (camera fades as directions are being given, and short montage of driving to the restaurant)
Newsanchor: We’ve decided on one more stop today. We’re going to speak with the chef himself (walking into the restaurant, the chef is adjusting his hat and looks up with a giant smile at the camera). Well hello, Chef, we’re so glad you could take the time to meet with us on short notice!
Chef: Not a problem, always glad to talk to someone so eager to hear about what we’re doing with vegetables these days!
Newsanchor: I’ve heard some good things about what you’re doing here. You’ve got a family down the street who loves what your feeding their kids.
Chef: Oh yeah, I know who you’re talking about. They’re a great family. It’s so hard to feed kids vegetables these days, and so many parents try to do it on their own. It’s hard for some people to understand, vegetables have been around for thousands of years, and most of our cooking techniques are only scratching the surface of what’s there. They really need to leave the vegetable’s to the experts.
Newsanchor: So you don’t think kids should be eating vegetables at home?
Chef: Well certainly, they can and should eat them at home. We’ve got several different choices on our “To Go” menu. It’s easier than ever these days, for a great vegetable experience to happen. We even make sure to send home doggie bags with the kids, whenever their parents bring them. We even stick a label on it with microwave instructions!
Newsanchor: What about teaching parents to cook vegetables at home on their own?
Chef: (looking a bit offended) Sir, no offense, but I was in culinary school for 6 years, and that was after 4 years of restaurant management. To put that kind of pressure on parents would be cruel of me. It’s my duty as a chef to make sure they can skip right to the act of eating the amazing vegetable itself, without all the work ahead of time. Not to mention the horrible messes they could make if they tried it on their own. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to prepare for tonight’s dinner crowd. They’re gonna love this!!
Newsanchor: Thanks for your time, again. (turning to the camera) And what about you, audience? Is the chef right? Which parent do you identify with? What do you think is the best way to make sure your children have a healthy relationship with all that vegetables have to offer?
(I realize that as with any metaphor, there are areas where this doesn’t work or falls short. But I think it begins some good things to think about.)