Our recent struggles over getting my kids to eat holiday meals reminded me of a night in April when Jebeh invited our family over for African food. I was excited, but also a little nervous. My kids, notoriously picky eaters, are prone to outbursts of “I don’t like that” and “that looks gross.” Foods can’t be touching and for my seven year old, sauces and the smell of yogurt cause body convulsions and arm flapping accompanied by “ewe, ewe, ewe.”
So, we prepped in the car AND in the grocery store while picking out dessert. No homemade contribution from this lady – just a store bought tray of brownies. But who doesn’t love those? Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Now kids, remind me of what our expectations are when we are guests…
Kids: Kind, respectful, please and thank you
Me: That’s right, so Miss Jebeh is cooking us a special meal – it will be different than what we serve at home, but she’s working really hard on it. She’s sharing her culture and heritage with us and we need to be grateful.
Kids: What’s culture and heritage?
Me: It has to do with where your family is from and the things that people choose to celebrate and honor.
Kids: Where’s her family from?
Me: Liberia, Africa
Kid (4 year old): Yeah, like our ancestors are from Duluth…”
At Jeb’s they lasted about one minute and two tiny bites. My son stopped eating and looked around a bit panicked. My four year old spoke loudly and clearly, “I don’t like this! Can I still have dessert?”