“Honey,” I said on Sunday, “You are going to have to start eating more fruits and vegetables.” Sister has never liked fruit from the beginning. Even as a baby, she made it clear applesauce and strained peaches were not for her, no matter how many times I offered. She will eat the occasional apple slice without the peel and sometimes part of a banana, but other than that, fruit does not pass her lips. And as I am prone to doing, I picked another new habit that was sure to make life better for us all that would, of course, start on Monday, the magical day of the week where dreams begin. “Tomorrow we are going to try some new foods,” I tried to pick something palatable to normal children. “starting with grapes.” Sister hates grapes, or so she says. Truth is, she’s never actually tasted one. She likes grape juice, grape jelly, grape popsicles and raisins. Grapes seemed like the reasonable choice.
I fully expected a rumble -- some whining at the very least. Instead there was only silence. “Honey, did you hear me?” I asked, not sure what to do with this reaction. She nodded. I took this to mean she understood my resolve and was choosing to quietly submit to my authority, knowing full well Mommy meant business, poor, simple fool that I am.
Along came Monday, soon followed by lunchtime when I asked my crew, “Who’s ready for lunch?” There came a rousing “ME!” from all three and I set to work preparing three lovely plates with half a turkey sandwich, baby carrots and grapes on each. They soon came running eagerly, Sister heading up the rear. While the other two clambered to the table, ready to dig in, Sister stopped short of the table when she saw her plate. “I didn’t ask for those,” she said, eyeing the grand total of three grapes I put next to her sandwich as if they might jump up and eat her.
“Yes, I know,” I answered, “but today you’re going to try them, remember?”
“Uh, I’m not hungry,” she said, almost convincingly.
“Oh,” I replied, not missing a beat. “Well, come sit down and eat your grapes and then you can be finished.”
And then came the whining. “I don’t waaaaaaaaant grapes. I don’t liiiiiiiiiiiiiike grapes. I haaaaaaaaate grapes.”
Tantrums I expect. Resistance I can handle. But that cold, calculated seemingly submissive silence is just a little too Children of the Corn, you know? I nonchalantly pointed out that there were only three grapes and went on about my business as if Sister had been eating grapes all along.
Then came the tears.
But I was not to be moved. Even though I knew all the child psychology experts would say it was wrong. Even though I knew forcing your children to eat certain foods would scar them for life. I was out to prove them all wrong. "Just eat those three and if you don't like them, I'll never ask you to eat them again," I said and went on pretending I was the Queen of Stoicism.
12:17 PM - Sister is crying at the table.
1:34 PM - Hubby calls. I tell him the situation and ask him if he thinks I'm wrong. His answer: "You know what Dr. Phil says? Don't EVER enter into confrontation with your child. But if you do, never lose." Great. Another parenting infraction. Eye of the Tiger begins playing in the background. It's the point of no return.
2:16 PM - Sister awakes, refreshed, and ready for round two. She seems to think setting the timer will help her. I am skeptical, but set it for ten minutes.
2:36 PM - The timer beeps. At this point, I'm beginning to think we should all just cut grapes out of our diet completely. They must contain some kind of toxin only she can detect and perhaps she is right to not eat them. She picks up a toothpick with a tiny sliver of room temperature grape and brings it slowly to her lips. "Watch me, Mommy," she says and I feel a glimmer of hope. Slowly, slowly it nears her mouth. I hold my breath. She pulls the grape slice gingerly from the toothpick with her teeth.
No gagging. No tiny grape particles flying across the room.
Dare I believe what my eyes behold? Can it be?
Her little mouth screws slightly to the left. "Mmmmm, I LOVE grapes!"
She chokes down the rest, none too quickly, trying the entire time to convince herself that grapes must be her favorite food. For days afterwards she declares to anyone who will listen that she does, indeed, LOVE grapes.
Has she eaten them since? Heck, no! And I'm not pushing it.
That would be wrong.