Mom, the marketing genius

Everyone knows that moms wear many different hats. As a mother, you naturally assume the roles of teacher, nurse and cleaning lady. They just come with the job.

I knew this heading into my first pregnancy. I was prepared to kiss boo-boos, spend hours explaining long division and wash endless loads of laundry. But what I didn’t expect is how my professional experiences in the business world of sales and marketing would be an essential asset at home with my kids.

They say the best salesman could sell ice to an Eskimo. Well, how about selling last night’s leftovers to a 6 year-old? I suppose I could force my kids to sit at the table until their plates are clean, but honestly, at 7 p.m. with homework and baths yet to do, I simply can’t spare the time.

And so, at dinnertime, my marketing skills come in most handy.

My kids are suspicious of all vegetables, most casseroles and some of the different ways chicken can be prepared. Thus, I’ve become an expert at successfully “selling” meals through creative packaging and a well thought out branding strategy.

At my house, my Southwest Salad (a blend of peppers, black beans and corn) is called “Mom’s Yummy-Time Rainbow Delight”. And one of my breakfast dishes, fried eggs in toast (you know the one -- cut a circle in a slice of bread and fry an egg in the center), is known as “Pretty Princess Peek-A-Boo Eggs”.

Additionally, I’ve found that a creative dinner presentation can turn picky little critics into your biggest culinary fans.

My kids cheer when I serve your run-of-the mill pork chops – diced and on toothpicks. (Truth be told, they gobble up anything on a toothpick.) And serving dinner by candlelight hides the two cups of shredded zucchini baked into my veggie lasagna, which by the way, is called “Garfield’s Favorite Lasagna”.

I’ve even managed to jazz up boring bag lunches by packing “Sandwich Sushi”. (Just flatten the bread with a rolling pin, slap on a little PB&J, then roll it up and slice the whole thing into pinwheels.) Heck, throw in a couple of chopsticks from last week’s takeout and they’re in heaven.

Yes sir, peace and harmony reign at dinnertime when you’ve successfully marketed an otherwise suspicious meal.'s important to not get cocky and take things too far.

I know from personal experience that it is impossible to hide peas inside shell pasta. It’s an extremely labor-intensive process and is hardly worth the effort. Not to mention the fact that it simply doesn’t work – the peas keep falling out. (Trust me on this one.)

So, when marketing to your children, remember this:

Your kitchen is a lot like a used car dealership. Don’t try to sell a lemon. If you get caught, you'll lose the sale end up with a bunch of sour customers.

My proudest parenting moments

Just in case you’re planning to nominate me for mother of the year, I’ve compiled some of my greatest motherly moments for your consideration.

Forget great report cards or winning goals – they pale in comparison to these little gems:

~ Fire drill at day care ~

I’d just enrolled my 3 year-old twin daughters in a new day care center. During their first week, as they were standing in line waiting for a drink at the water fountain, one of them saw the fire alarm and pulled it. The entire center evacuated onto the playground as the fire department and several squad cars arrived on the scene.

At the end of the day, the director told me all about the incident. I stood there, apologetically shaking my head and stammering,

“I’m so sorry. So very, very, VERY sorry.”

The director was actually quite nice about the whole thing.

“Really, it’s okay,” she assured me. “We have to do fire drills periodically. And, today we learned that we can evacuate the entire center in less than four minutes – even during nap time.”

~ Notes from teacher ~

Though my twins are identical in appearance, their personalities couldn’t be more opposite.

One is very type A. She’s organized and efficient. She’s the kid who raises her hand in class every time a question is asked, regardless of if she knows the answer or not. This girl mails Santa her Christmas list in July, “to make sure he’ll get it in time.”

My other daughter is very much a free spirit. She’s the kid who likes her hair long, loose and “crazy-looking.” She sings all day long, not caring that she’s off key. And she doesn’t see the point of sitting quietly in class, learning things, when she could be outside right now riding bikes.

Ever since 4-K, I’ve received notes from Little Miss Free Spirit’s teachers regarding her lackadaisical behavior at school. My favorite note came from her second-grade teacher. It read:

“J---- was doing ‘the worm’ during research writing time.”

The only way I could’ve been prouder is if she’d been able to work in a shoulder roll-head-spin combo and ended in a hollow-back freeze. Oh well, it’s something to work on, I guess.

~ Queen ~

I love all kinds of music and like to play my CDs when we’re driving in the van. This means my kids are exposed to songs by artists that aren’t typically played on Radio Disney. An added bonus is that I don’t have to endure too much Hannah Fontana, or whatever her name is.

I pick songs from all genres and we have fun singing along. We’re like a modern day Partridge Family, only without Reuben, instruments or any real talent.

Once, when the girls were four, I could hear them singing in their room. They didn’t have a radio or CD player, so they were singing a capella, trying to recall lyrics by memory alone.

For some reason, their sweet singing erupted into shrill fighting. Then a series of bangs and booms could be heard through the ceiling. How had we suddenly gone from a happy musical number to a full-blown WWF event?

When I went up to investigate, I learned they were arguing over song lyrics – lyrics they learned under my watch.

Specifically, the lyrics to Fat Bottom Girls by Queen.

Oooh, are you gonna take me home tonight?
Oooh, down beside that red firelight;
Are you gonna let it all hang out?
Fat bottomed girls,
You make the rockin' world go round.

The very next day, I added Radio Disney to my presets.