When your son comes clean about what he truly loves

I've reached the day every parent dreads. I've discovered my son likes smoked meats.

I suspected this day might come when, as a little boy, he always wanted to eat the stronger flavoured food and avoided sweets. All little boys like to experiment, but is it really normal for them to ignore sweet food?

When he was older, I forgot about my worries for a while. He seemed just like other boys then, eating big meals, trying new things, copying what his friends were eating. It was a false sense of security.

By the time he was a teenager, he was asking me to make curries all the time. Bacon had to be thick and well-cooked. He liked his sandwiches with butter instead of margarine or low-fat spread. And he wouldn't drink milkshake.

I put my new worries to one side. All boys go through phases, don't they? Especially in their teenage years. Friends can have such a big impact on them. So, I blamed his friends.

Except, his friends ate anything. They didn't insist on special meats, presented nicely with side salad. They were happy with whatever came first. They didn't mind what my son ate, either, which was good. I just wish I had realised earlier that it wasn't a phase.

Then, the day I'll never forget. We were in the supermarket, buying ham and there was only smoked ham left. He said, casually, 'Why don't we just get that? It tastes better anyway.'

We looked at each other, him realising he had spoken without thinking and me, sinking into the morass of years of memories, jumbled together: my son eating beef flavour crisps, laughing as he ate a 100% meat sausage, the time he threw up after trying to force down candy floss.

It all came together into the dreadful knowledge that he had fully accepted his love of smoked foods and wasn't afraid to show it. I had to face facts, I was never going to watch him eat cup cakes or even skim the top off a trifle. He was always going to head straight for the all-you-can-eat meat buffet.

We went home, a little quieter than we set out and I cooked the smoked ham for supper. I ate it with him trying to ignore the unnatural flavours caused by the smoking. I tried to hide the taste by serving it with a sweet sauce. Together, we managed that first meal.

Now, I have a fridge full of unusual foods that I've never tried before. I even have smoked salmon - who knew fish could taste good both ways? I've found I can enjoy things I never knew existed before and, better than that, I'm not ashamed to admit it.

My son is still the same person he was, it was me who was unwilling to see him for his true self. I'm a better person for looking at him clearly and understanding he was his own individual. I know now that he didn't need to try the food I thought he should, he was quite capable of choosing for himself.

Readers, if you find yourself in my position, don't lose heart. Try shopping in a different part of the supermarket or accepting that what your son or daughter brings home may not be quite what you expected. Look at it as the chance to try a whole new world of experiences, different from the life you know but just as good.


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