Standing in line at the grocery store. The customers directly ahead of me are a mother and young child, perhaps kindergarten age.
Child: My teacher said, “Eat anything first.”
Mother: Your teacher said what?
Child: Eat anything first. For lunch. We could eat anything first.
I am picturing a partitioned styrofoam school lunch tray, with a main course in one square, vegetable in the second, fruit or dessert in the third, milk in the fourth. Or maybe a lunchbox with containers or plastic baggies, each containing items opened by small children one at a time.
Child: We could start eating with whatever we wanted.
Mother: Prior to dessert, is that what your teacher meant, perhaps?
She frowned and stomped one foot — not full-on temper tantrum, but the display of a single moment of frustration.
Mother: That’s not what she meant?
Child: No. She said we could eat anything first, even dessert.
The customer ahead of this pair completes their transaction, and the mother switches to talking to the cashier.
I don’t know how the conversation ends — or if that was the end.
And while I’m sure there are plenty of folks concerned about letting young children develop tastes for foods with relatively higher levels of sugar (keeping in mind that I don’t even know what constituted the standard “dessert” for these students), I also know what it’s like to walk a classroom full of students through an activity, making sure that each one gets basic needs met.
From both perspectives — that of a teacher and that of an eater — there is worse advice than, “Eat anything first.”