Positive Influence

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

One thing I need to make a better effort at is planning and executing more “play dates” for my daughter.  My other mom-friends and I always say things like, “We should get together more often,” and “Let’s plan a day for the girls to play.”  Unfortunately, more often than not, we get busy with the daily components of our lives and all of those “we shoulds” tend to get lost in the shuffle. I’ve decided to become more proactive and I’m going to follow through this time!

This leads me to Monday afternoon. This week, my child is in ballet camp at the Dance Conservatory at USC with several girls from her ballet class. One odd thing about this school is that when they built this fairly new building, they only built one “lobby” area and it’s not very big.  So, during the year, I pretty much walked my daughter upstairs, dropped her off at class and then left.  As you can imagine, this makes it difficult, if not impossible, to meet other parents.

But, on Monday, as I waited in the hall for the camp to finish up for the day, a mom that I recognized came up to me.  We said hello and began to chat.  The next thing I know, she’s saying that since this camp only runs for half a day, she’s interested in finding some other parents who would be interested in taking turns this week for play dates after camp.  Yes!  She asked, “How about tomorrow?” I realized that my mind instantly began saying, “What? We have to plan. I have no plan for tomorrow yet.”  (This is how my brain convinces me that I can’t possibly work something in that quickly.)  Instead, my mouth said “Yes, I can take the girls tomorrow.  We would love that!”

The playdate was awesome. Our daughters are the same age and are a really great match-up.  First, the three of us went to lunch.  (The girls decided Groucho’s was in order.) Then, we came to our house and they played and played and played.  Barbies, grocery store, dancing, art, kiddie pool and sprinkler, movie, Zhu Zhu pet races, costume wearing and toasting marshmallows…just to name a few of their activities.  As the afternoon starting approaching dinner time, I decided to get a start on dinner that I would reheat later.  So, I got busy in the kitchen while they played their hearts out.

TacosI decided to put together a taco meat mixture, planning to use it for burritos along with some fresh tomato, sautéed bell peppers and onions, cheese, etc.  So, I browned my meat with onion and garlic and then added a little water and a can of Rotel.  I simmered it until I got it the consistency I wanted and cooked out most of the liquid. The next thing I knew, I had two little bathing suit clad ladies sniffing around my skillet.  Now, let me insert an aside here…

I love tacos.  They have always been my go-to busy night/feeling lazy/quick and easy dinner. So, imagine my surprise and dismay when I learned that my child does not share my love of all things taco. My burrito plan was definitely a gamble, hoping that maybe if it didn’t look like a taco, she’d eat it.

I looked at them both are said, “Would you like to try it?” and our guest quickly said yes.  She tried it, she liked it, and guess what happened next?  My daughter asked for a spoon so she could try it as well.  Lo and behold, she loved it.  Now, they each had a spoon and started snacking right out of the skillet.  When my new mom-friend arrived, we invited them to stay and eat with us.  The girls decided to dine on tacos by candlelight.  That’s right!  My child ate a proper taco and enjoyed it!  It was truly a success.  Despite all the times I tried to get her to try this dish with an open mind, it took the positive influence of another kid to finally get her to clear this hurdle.  And as all moms will surely agree, I’ll take all the positive influences that come our way.

Elizabeth Akre writes about food and cooking at Gastronomy (By a Wanna-be Chef).

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