My dad has given me some pretty good advice in life. More recently the advice was as follows, ”Let the kids play with their food.” It may sound like random advice to you but consider that my dad is a Food Scientist and gets paid to play with food. He loves his job and is good at it. So coming from him it is good advice. On the other hand, even if he didn’t get paid to play with food I think he would still give me this advice. He’s just that kind of guy.
I’m glad he said these words. I needed to hear them. Even though I lived with him and saw him working in our kitchen and in a laboratory, saw how much he loved his work, I wouldn’t have let my kids play with their food. I’m not the kind. After all, it goes against all the mommy advice I have ever learned, what about table manners and etiquette. It also goes against my freakishly obsessive nature. Playing with their food might mean creating a mess or mixing foods that don’t go together.
Still, every time we sit down to eat, his voice is in my head, “Let the kids play with their food.” And I watch as my daughter builds a house out of orange slices and my son creates an alligator mouth from his peanut butter waffle. I know that my counters will be sticky and their hands more so, I can clean these. But watching them use their imaginations to tell stories, be creative in just one more way, this simple way, with food, well, that’s pretty special. Having a father who thought it was important that his grandchildren play with their food, that’s really special.