Authentic Wisdom: The Wife
~ 28 January 2005 ~
When Cameron first invited me to guest author on his site I was honored, but frankly also in somewhat of a state of shock. Thrilled at the challenge, I was still overwhelmed and found myself asking, “What on earth am I going to write about? What do I have in common with all or any of you for that matter?”
Well, believe it or not, I might have quite a bit more in common than meets the eye. I’m immersed in creativity, design and marketing 24/7. Not only being married to it, but it’s also what I do full-time.
We have three young and very active little boys (sorry, big boys, as they’re quick to assert). Ages 4, 3 and 18 months. It is my job to manage, educate, entertain and prepare these young men — along with being referee, chauffeur, medical assistant, bodyguard, activities coordinator, miracle worker and on and on.
However, one of the most challenging tasks of all is marketing the dinner plate. Yes, marketing. Yes, the dinner plate. For instance, how does one market a plate of chicken? My youngest two are not so picky and they’ll gobble up dinner in no time. But, it is my eldest that has tried and tested my marketing ability and skills.
I’ve had four years to tweak my methods and I’ve learned this about marketing: I have to be in tune with my ‘audience’ and their needs and moods, which are constantly evolving.
With that in mind, allow me to present a few tactics for marketing that savory plate of exquisitely prepared poultry (and other foods).
Early on I realized our four-year-old favored foods of a white nature. White cheese, pears, chicken, lasagna noodles, bananas, apples, etc. So, I began to color coordinate his plates. Not a difficult task having a strong artistic background, I found it rather fun to develop a monochromatic meal. Although his quirky requests for scraping the meat and sauce off the lasagna noodles can become quite arduous. But if he wants it scraped off he’s been taught the method. (I’ve found it very important to enable your audience to be able to service themselves, naturally.)
Ah, the all too familiar Nothing Can Touch! This one isn’t all that difficult, especially with smaller portions on a normal dinner plate. You simply space the food appropriately, taking in consideration any gravy or sauce that may cross into enemy territory and contaminate the other inhabitants. Keeping things symmetrical is always appealing to the eye, though there are successful asymmetrical patterns as well.
The funny bone is usually always a crowd pleaser, and even the non-picky eaters get a kick out of this one. Banana eyes, some mash potato eyebrows with cheesy hair, some chicken for a toothy grin, apple ears. The possibilities are endless. Let your imagination run wild with this one. In fact, I often find my picky eater making up his own silly faces and enjoying the act of eating away face parts. AHHHH Ooh nnnoooo!! He can’t see!
Countless teasers have been invented at our dinner table and kids never tire of them. They thrive on a challenge. There’s the size game: What’s the biggest bite you can take, can you top it? The number game: How many bites can you take, are you sure? Or the “I’ll look the other way how much disappears off your plate” game. And just the other day my three-year-old invented the Superhero Challenge. He would snatch a bite with his super-fast superhero super powers before any of us could see him. It did startle him though, when he grabbed the wrong bite of food.
The Hard Sell
When all else fails, there is the end-all-be-all method of disciplinarian persuasion: You will eat or else. I’ve found the timer to be a more gentle sell. That is, of course, until it turns into “You have until the beeper goes off to take a bite or else!” (And we’ve all experienced the “or else” — sent to bed without any snacks or saved for breakfast the next morning.) Of course, one must be careful with these attempts and must be prepared to back up what’s said or credibility is lost. Not to mention there is always a power struggle with these methods, and usually the evening ends on an unpleasant note.
Who can forget bribery? Or, in more pleasant terms, the reward system. This tactic focuses on the positives, the can-haves and can-dos rather than on the can-nots. Done properly, the outcome can be rewarding for both parties. After all, we look for fringe benefits in all we do, even as adults, right?
So there you have it. Advice on marketing the six o’clock meal. Take it or leave it, but keep in mind you might find it in tomorrow’s breakfast bowl if you leave it.
About The AuthorSuzanne Moll is Cameron’s wife of 6 years and change. A native Floridian, her creative talent runs deep, most notably in painting and stained glass. And hey, she’s got a full two years on Cameron, so you’d be wise to listen up.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.
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