Last week, one of the hot-and-bother fodder topics on the web was “kiss feeding,” as practiced by Alicia Silverstone and her 11-month-old son, Bear. If you haven’t seen the video of her chewing Bear’s food before passing it from her mouth to his, it’s hard to imagine why she’s suffered such tremendous scorn and derision. Because people who read the web are known for being open-minded and kind, and willing to butt out of something that is not their business in any way.
I’ve seen how the media have treated Alicia–the lazy “Clueless” jokes, the assertions of her utter superfluity in “Batman & Robin”–and I don’t think people are seeing the long-term value of pre-chewing your child’s food. I can’t stay silent and watch her twist in the wind, because … I do this with my boys as well. The difference is that, since my sons are in elementary school, we’ve added a crucial element to kiss feeding: distance.
We call it “French Kiss Feeding.”
Basically, when it’s time for dinner, my sons and I take positions at opposite ends of the kitchen, I take a bite out of whatever food I’ve cooked for them, chew it, and launch it over to them. The first volleys are directed at one son particularly, but toward the end, everything’s a jump ball. The boys leap and lunge spectacularly, until they’re mostly full.
And the great thing is, now that they’re old enough, they’re starting to use FKF on me and each other. We launch food at each other using all sorts of permutations. We’re even getting close to perfecting our two signature moves: the 2-on-1 Juggle and the 6-4-3 Double Play Relay.
I can feel the waves of your revulsion shaking the shingles off my roof, but please hear me out. Teaching your children to feed themselves in the traditional way, with their own utensils, teeth, and saliva, is perfectly fine. But French Kiss Feeding (or FKF, as it will one day appear in a medial journal near you) has a number of developmental advantages:
It teaches the importance of teamwork. 1 of 7FKF relies as much on the giver of the food as it does the receiver. Feeding your child in this way creates a specific parent-child bond that says, "We're in this together."
It teaches the importance of athleticism. 2 of 7We've all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at highlight reels on SportsCenter. FKF relies on catlike reflexes, and spectacular leaps and grabs are not uncommon.
It conditions the upper body. 3 of 7Most schools agree that exercise is important, but most of it--running around in recess, for example--is geared toward the lower body. FKF specifically targets the cardio-pulminary area and helps define the pectorals, deltoids, and trapezius.
It celebrates competition. 4 of 7If you have more than one child, as I do, you can use FKF to help build a healthy attitude toward competition, which builds character and poise in the face of adversity.
It’s reinforces Darwinism. 5 of 7Everyone knows that nature is random and brutish, and the tougher the organism, the better it eats. FKF turns this abstract idea from a biology textbook into reality.
It breeds cleanliness. 6 of 7Despite everyone's best efforts, not every FKF volley is caught. After the meal, make your kids clean up the food they were unable to eat. They'll learn important skills of housekeeping, and be further incentivized to catch more next time.
It makes trying new things FUN! 7 of 7Every parent struggles to encourage their kids to try new and/or healthy foods. And nothing makes that head of cauliflower more fun to eat than shooting it out of your own mouth cannon.
I hope this piece has opened your eyes to the many virtues that FKF can help instill in your children. Perhaps using FKF will help your child grow up as strong and emotionally well adjusted as Bear Blu–who after all, is named after the world’s most famous wilderness bad-ass.
Read more of Doug’s work on his personal blog, Laid-Off Dad.
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