Monday, December 10, 2012

Knife-Wielding Children

It was declared the other night by My Lovely Wife while dining at Vito's that the boys could cut their own food from here on out.

To be fair, it isn't as though the boys squawk like baby birds for us to cut up their food into bite-size portions, and we're not intentionally trying to pamper them. It comes down to a matter of efficiency. We are efficient cutters of food, they are not. We have the ability to cut hot pizza with a knife without sending bits of it flying across a restaurant and blinding fellow diners with scalding tomato sauce. Their level of proficiency at this same task is questionable.

I suppose history will show one of our great failings as parents is not having taught our children to properly use knives. When I see the boys attempting to cut anything from steak to potatoes, I can't help thinking they'd experience greater success bashing their food with sticks and rocks in order to break off easily digestible pieces. Even Our Daughter, who recently started driving, looks as though her hand-eye coordination suffers a seven-second delay whenever she tries to use a knife.

When the children were very young, it made perfect sense not to place serated steak knives next to their plates. After all, when your diet consists primarily of fish sticks, chicken tenders, applesauce and string cheese, there really isn't much call for cutlery. But, as they have grown and their diets become slightly more sophisticated (no more fish sticks), we find we can't leave them weaponless and have them lifting large chunks of grilled meat to their mouths and tearing at it with their teeth. They need the right tools and the training to apply them correctly to the task at hand.

The Italian will welcome this change, I expect. He is passively-aggressively independent and always eager to prove his self-sufficiency. I believe the German, however, secretly enjoys our taking the reins and managing the food-cutting, if for no other reason than it allows him to keep his hands clean. He is a fastidious little bugger at the best of times. One night, several years ago, we were dining at Olive Garden when he decided to survey the table.

"Who had a breadstick?" the German asked.

We each raised a greasy-fingered hand in the air.

"Then you all need to wash your hands," he ordered.

So, now begins a new chapter of our lives as parents, a chapter in which we move away from plastic knives and safety scissors, pack away the Disney character plates and bowls, and treat our children as dining equals capable of cutting their own food.

Maybe we should plan on serving soup for the next few months...

© 2012 Mark Feggeler

1 comment:

  1. And after a few months of soup, they can graduate to smoothies. They're the newest health rage, you can put anything in that blender--meat, spinach, and so on--and the German can keep his hands clean as he pushes the "puree" button, the Italian can be content knowing there are sharp blades whirring around at a speed of a hundred miles per hour, and you and the lovely missus can dine on normal food without a care in the world...