Don’t touch that cheese

“Oh, you don’t want to try that cheese, Brynna.”

I looked up from the produce I was examining to get a bead on who had said that–and why. It was sample day at the grocery store, and my eyes quickly landed on a mother and her young daughter. The girl, probably around eight or nine, had spied some samples of an aged gouda and wanted to taste one. She had asked politely, but her mom nixed the idea.

Let’s assume that the girl was not allergic to cheese and that her mom wasn’t worried that she would ruin her dinner. Because the emphasis on the word THAT leads to a certain implication, I’m going to to with it.

Mom’s attitude implied to me that she didn’t think Brynna would like the cheese, that perhaps it was a bit too advanced for her immature palate. I wanted to scream, LET HER TRY IT! Why do we assume that children should stick with chicken nuggets and mac-and-cheese until some magical age when they can suddenly handle new flavors? Why do we shelter our children from expanding their horizons?

These questions actually apply to more than food. How often do we “shelter” our children from new experiences, rationalizing that they are too young? Certainly some things aren’t appropriate for children: a crying baby can ruin a concert for everyone in the audience, for example. However, I suspect that upon further investigation, we’ll find many situations where it really doesn’t matter, but it’s just easier to exclude them. We make a judgment on their behalf that they won’t like the event, the food, or the situation at hand.

The next time it comes up, think of it this way. Don’t consider the event at hand. Or the food. Or the situation. Consider the OPPORTUNITY at hand. If it doesn’t involve a real, inappropriate-for-children kind of scenario, if you’re just making a judgment on their behalf, let them try it.

Let. Them. Try. It.

If they don’t like it, so what? They will have been exposed to one more of the world’s flavors, and you will have added context to their life experience. Then again, they may like it. What’s so bad about that?

C’mon, Mom. Let Brynna try that cheese.

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