About a week ago I saw a story from what appeared to be a reputable news source that a teacher's aide in Pennsylvania had fed dog biscuits to a bunch of first-graders, telling the kids they were a joke real cookie made to look like a dog snack. Then a few days later, I read where a 6-year-old in Pennsylvania had taken 11 packets of heroin to school, and when authorities examined the packets, one of them had bite marks on it. Those two stories started me thinking about how little kids really aren't very discriminating about what they will put in their mouths.
One of the things I said very often as a mother of toddlers was, "don't eat that." It seemed that my tiny people were always up for tasting anything they found on the ground. Luckily, I learned to say it fast enough to keep most gross things out of their mouths.
A few rocks did slip by. I once caught Eldest eating toilet tissue off the roll, and Youngest one time ate a penny; but for the most part they didn't ingest many nonfood items. But they did try to eat weird things, so I had to wonder if little kids just don't know what is and is not food, or if their taste buds are nonexistent.
A little Internet searching led me to discover on many sites that the average number of taste buds per person is about 10,000, and that number declines with age. So little kids have at least as many taste buds as adults and must be willing to eat weird things for other reasons.
I don't know what the reason is for most kids, but for my best friend and I, it started as simple curiosity and morphed into something else. When we were little, one of my friend's chores was to feed her dogs each day. I often helped her, and one day we decided to taste what we were feeding the dogs. Her pets got a bowl of hard food with a Gaines-burger patty crumbled on top. I don't know if you remember Gaines-burgers, but they were individually wrapped and were supposed to look like a hamburger patty. They tasted a lot like Play-Doh, but not as good.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.