Before I was married, I had the opportunity to babysit for a family that I admired very much. Both parents were very cultured and elegant and I soaked up as much as I could on the Mondays that I cared for their little girl. One of the things that I noticed was that they gave their child real food on real dishes with real silverware. She ate her grape tomatoes, slices of salami, and wedges of cheese very daintily. Grilled shrimp, olives, and soups were eaten with relish. There was not one chicken tender or noodle coated in butter in sight. This child even liked Bubble Water (mineral water) in her glass. I thing I loved most was that she could enjoy wholesome foods on the same plates that everyone used.
When it was time to start feeding Sugar Plum food, I was eager to avoid the ugly plastic dishes and utensils in our price range and so I looked for alternatives to the baby dishes one can find in the big box stores. I didn't have to look far! Many shops sell different kinds of tiny dishes for condiments, sauces, and tiny portions. Over the years, I have picked up a wide variety of little dishes for very little money. I have also found that many places sell tiny forks, spoons, and knives for appetizers and these are perfect for little ones learning to feed themselves.
Though I mainly sought to use real dishes and utensils for two reasons - practicality (children's things don't seem to work as well... especially the utensils) and beauty (children's things in our price range are ugly) - I have found that there are some other benefits as well. For one, our little ones are careful with breakable things. I also believe that avoiding plastic as much as possible is good for their health.
Mealtime can be one of the best times for a family and having a table set with pretty things can make it even more enjoyable!
I like your STYLE!
I agree! Children do notice, and besides, it's a good idea to start cultivating their tastes early.
I am the same way! I've always given my boys "regular" dishes and never gave it a second thought until we had family friends over and she practically GASPED when I handed her daughter a bowl. haha!
We are like that too as you know! We are fortunate to live near the "Silver City" and find many quality pieces at the factory store. Over the years, we've only lost two or three pieces (and at least one was due to my butterfingers!).
so agree! though it frustrates friends when they bring little ones over, there are no sippy cups or plastic dishes around here :) we use the same principal in the catechesis of good shepherd, everything in the room is real, glass, ceramic etc, and often the comment of parents is they are amazed at just what their children are capable of, and how much they have underestimated their ability to handle things with care. It's all about expectations :)
I haven't ventured into this with my little ones, but it is a good idea. It reminds me of a quote from Jan Karon, "You'll fight me on this, but table lines civilize and enhance our meals, and our kids need to know about such things. Absolutely worth the starching and ironing, and if you can't use them everyday, use them on Sunday." The Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader. I think that can go for our fine china also.
I love your recollection of the elegant family. It inspires me too.
I've been wanting to do this for a while, but I'm afraid that things will be broken on a regular basis. How has your experience been in regards to things breaking?
Not too bad, Michelle! A lot of our stuff is a bit more sturdy and so I think that it holds up better than fragile things. Also, I don't give the children things that I really care about (my great-grandmothers rose glassware for example).
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