The original caption for this photo was my mum’s creativity at work:
If I could just push this apple into my mouth…
I am of course re-purposing this photo of myself for the topic of this article – enjoy!
In this photo I was about 19 months old. I was holding an apple which had its skin peeled off, which apparently was how I used to like my apples. At least I enjoyed fruit. Here I was seated having an apple snack when one of my parents thought it was a great opportunity to take some happy snaps. In those days my Dad was the main photographer guy in the family so the credit for taking the photo goes to him. No doubt my mum was somewhere close by. Together, my parents created photos albums of childhood memories for me. My dad would be the photographer and my mum the caption writer. Her sense of humour and wit was no doubt evident in some of her captions, the above being a classic example.
This photo was a series of photos taken in our kitchen. You can see the original wallpaper in the background, with empty clothes drying rack positioned in front. Behind me are two doors. The door with the hanging poster is for a storage cupboard, whilst you can see the thick jamb for the sliding door on the far right. That particular architrave would become the wall tracker for my growth over the years, marking my height at various milestones/intervals in my life.
The wooden high chair that I sat in was a gift to my parents from well-wishing family friends and it got used thoroughly over the years of my childhood from infancy right up to 3 ~ 4 years of age. Many a meal and snack time was spent there, and a good share of the food no doubt ended up on the floor rather than my mouth…
My food bib was gifted by my grandma but my memories of it were as a much dirty item… I seem to have this memory of it being more orange in colour, perhaps from the carrots I was eating? Carrots have some kind of significance in meaning from my childhood. I think there was this television advertisement where a cooking scene was shown and they were chopping carrots up very finely. It could have been an advertisement for Dolmio pasta sauce or something similar, but whatever the product, I have this very distinct memory of the vegetables being chopped and then being emptied into a pot. When I was old enough, my parents allowed me to help out in the kitchen with basic activities. Exhibit A the photo on the right.
Getting kids to help out in the kitchen where the safety and risks are minimized is actually very beneficial for them. With careful supervision, kids like myself would be more than happy to help out. The key is to ensure that the tasks are manageable and that the kids can actually contribute towards the cooking, where the likelihood if things going wrong, or a messy kitchen is avoided. Possibly, this early exposure to the kitchen and helping out with cooking may have influenced my positive attitude towards spending time in the kitchen be it cooking… or eating!
From an early age, the kitchen was always a key and central hub of activity, be it at home or when visiting friend’s homes, or even church. With the church building renovated in the early 1990s, the new kitchen facilities created opportunities for the various house church groups to serve in a rotational basis by cooking and providing church lunches. This culture was developed from scratch and kids like myself became involved alongside our parents, where we served in the more menial tasks – collecting the dirty dishes and washing up. Those of us children that helped out did so willingly and happily, developing a sense of responsibility and duty of care.
Encouraging good eating habits in kids is also a worthwhile endeavor, and parents should persist. Even where children protest and kick up a fuss, the importance of eating all foods from an early age has long-term effects. Meal-time is arguably one of the hardest chores of parenting and my first-hand observations are from helping out friends and family with toddlers. Some kids are naturally predisposed to accepting the food supplied by parents and consume whatever they are given, whereas some are more fussy about what they eat. Kids typically do not enjoy eating their greens. I was probably indifferent to them as a kid, although I do remember going through the routine of “finish eating your veggies before you leave the table”. Of course, nowadays as an adult, I am all for a balanced diet. However, it must be said that of all the fruits I eat, I think I prefer bananas to apples… and after all, I am dating a doctor now… =)