What do you see in this meal? We have Spam about once a month and today was one of those days. These are some of the commentaries from our kids during this breakfast session of Spam, garlic fried rice and cucumbers:

Esme: Look!

Ayla: Esme made Mickey Mouse!

Ayla: I made a sandwich (cucumber rice sandwich)!

Olivia: I made the letter H!

Sometimes, at meal times, we teach our kids how to eat “properly” and sometimes, we let the kids have a little fun. Look at all the learning that goes on during this very short part of the day/morning.

Esme is realizing she can put toppings on top of her rice to make it look like a different dish. She had spam and rice on top on one cucumber at one point, creating an open sandwich. She’s could be trying to make a connection to what I serve from time to time, such as an open sandwich of avocado toast (which she loves). She could be making a connection with the crackers I give her sometimes with Adjvar (Red Pepper Spread). Or, she could also just discovering something new; but one thing for sure is she’s exploring and trying to make sense of what’s in front of her and internalizing it to how to make it meaningful to her.

Olivia loves anything related to letters, numbers and words. She will try to make a letter out of anything she sees around her in the environment. She was proud to share what she recognized, the letter H. She pointed it out and shared it with us; to her it’s not just creating the letter H; it’s an expression of her confidence and how she proudly shares it.

Ayla was connecting the image Esme made with what she’s familiar with, Mickey Mouse. She was excited and happy to find a connection to something she knows. Like Olivia, she also found it worth sharing.

So next time, your child is having a meal and making commentaries, listen to them; try to relate to their findings; and learn a little bit about empathy.

Psychology Today defines empathy in the following way:

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from their point of view, rather than from your own.

Try to understand why they might be sharing it or why they think it’s important.

Think of it as a window of opportunity to see through their lens , when they are so little, so alert and aware of their surroundings; so carefree and proud of what they share and remember to share it; let it be an honor that they want to share their discoveries with you.

Listen and learn what they are trying to tell you about how they internalize their world and the things that bring them happiness.

Hold it in your heart and remember it.

What are some ways you like to put together a platter for fruit, vegetable or meal? Our kids seem to prefer the circle slices and eat more of it when cut in circles, rather than sticks. Is there anything particular your kid prefers over others?

*Note-Just a little note on these cucumbers. I like to cut them up into different shapes to let the kids see it cut up in two different ways, cucumber sticks or circle slices. Sometimes, changing up the look a bit can intrigue them. If your child is a picky eater, this can be one way to have them observe and explore it.

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