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Cheese and Pickle Parenting

Strange how parenting styles are influenced by events in my past. Including when I was single. And overseas. And hungry.

Many years ago when visiting family friends outside of London, the mom offered me a cheese and pickle sandwich. As a down-home American eater, this was pretty exotic stuff. My internal thought process went as follows…

  • She’s joking, right? She must be joking. Who eats that?
  • Wait, she’s serious. Don’t offend your host. She’ll tell mom.
  • Is this really happening?
  • I’m about to eat a cheese and pickle sandwich. Do I ask for mustard?

(eats sandwich)

  • Hey that’s pretty good. Weird how the pickle offsets the cheese.
  • Did I seriously just think that?
  • Did that just happen?
  • I just ate a cheese and pickle sandwich. Should I have asked for mustard?

(says thanks. asks for another. doesn’t ask for mustard)

Looking back on that moment, I think about how young and inexperienced I was. It was the first time I had ever traveled  alone overseas. And what I see in that young traveler is someone who wasn’t prepared to try new things, but was at least taught to be polite and accept them when offered. In that moment, I gained a new understanding about how much I didn’t understand the world around me.

In a similar vein, I find that we as parents have to seek out all kinds of cheese and pickle sandwiches for our families. Often that means getting kids to try new foods (I mean, how much yogurt can one kid eat, anyway?). It can also mean stepping out for adventures big and small. The point is, sometimes a cheese and pickle sandwich is offered to you. Other times, you have to make your own.

And sometimes, it might be worth it to ask for mustard.

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