I became a stay at home mom when I lost my insurance driving school bus for Kentwood Public Schools. At the time, Emma was not even 2 and Gerrit not even a year old. Money was tight with all the diapers we went thru and learning to survive off of less is a trying time. So when a friend of mine mentioned that her son did taste testing for a place and received gift cards for it, I was intrigued. She told me that they went and tried different foods and were given gift cards to a local grocery store for their time. This sounded like a dream come true to me. Gerrit’s favorite activity was eating and now he would get paid to do it? Even better, the place was a few miles from my house. Wow!
The first time I took him, we had to drop Emma off at Sandy’s house. I knew this would be difficult since they were never seperated and the fact that he didn’t get to go play at Sandy’s house. Sure enough, when I took Emma in and came back out, there was my buddy bear… sobbing about Emma. As we drove away, his cries got louder but I knew that once we got there, he would be happy. At least I hoped.
We got there and registered. When it was time, we went back to our little cubicle. They explained how I went thru the computer system to answer the questions and what to do with the cracker/water between each sample. All in all, it was a success. We left with a gift card for groceries and a happy Gerrit with a tummy full of yumminess.
The amount of times we got called varied. Sometimes it was a lot, sometimes only 1 or 2 times a month. After a couple times, I started to notice a change in Gerrit. As soon as we drove onto the street where the taste testing building was, Gerrit would say ‘eat?’. He was a no talking kind of kid so that was a big deal. When we walked thru the doors, it was as if he was transformed. Gone was the shy, timid toddler. The taste testing Gerrit was crazy social. He never stopped smiling the whole time he was there. He never cowered behind me when people looked or talked to him. In fact, he would grab my hand and boldly pull me back to the cubicle to start. He followed directions perfectly and laughed and giggled in between samples. This was truly his place to shine. And it was a special time just between him and I. No Emma to divide my attention. No Emma to speak for him or get things for him. I realized quickly that we were gaining a lot more than gift cards for our time. Gerrit was gaining independance and a side to his personality that none of us had ever seen before.
It’s been over 2 years since we started going. I can’t believe it. At first I had guilt over my baby working to buy us groceries. It’s a strange feeling when your son is contributing to the grocery budget and he’s 1. I didn’t know how to feel about that. I’m so happy that he loved it and it was a great experience for him. If he had hated it, I probably would have stopped taking him. Forcing him to do it just to help pay for groceries would have felt evil. But taking him to a place he absolutely loves (to this day) and getting paid to do it is so awesome.
He just finished up a take home taste testing this morning. I’ll have to call in the results later today and they’ll mail us our gift card. While it’s not the same as going to ‘eat’ at the taste testing building, it’s still free toddler meals and we still get paid for it. Still awesome.
Both pictures are of Gerrit while he’s working LOL