The Picky Eater Monster

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“Mom, I’m full,” inevitably whines one my darlings after only two bitty bites of my healthy and delicious dinner.

“Okay. You can be done. But if you’re already full, then you certainly don’t need any dessert,” I say with a poker face.

“Well, I’m not actually full full. My tummy just hurts,” they counter.

“My poor baby. Well, if your tummy hurts, dessert would definitely make it hurt even more.”

There. Chew on that.

“I don’t think so, Mom. It’s this dinner that’s making my tummy hurt. Dessert will make it feel better. I just know it!”

“No dice.”

“Pleeeeease?”

“Eat your dinner, and then you may have dessert.”

“But I’m full!”

And around and around we go.

I have a version of this same conversation with at least one of my four children anytime I serve something other than dino-shaped chicken nuggets or pancakes. Why do I even bother making colorful dishes that call for curry, or exotic entrees that include a vegetable other than corn? Why do I make the effort, only to be ruthlessly shot down at the dinner table by people who still hold their forks like toothbrushes?

My children had such varied palates as babies. When my oldest was a baby, he used to eat chunks of pico de gallo with the macho gusto of a matador. Now he thinks tomatoes are kinda gross, except when in pizza, spaghetti sauce or ketchup.

Peas were once a fave for my tots, now they are things to be avoided in the soup. Tonight at dinner, my one year old scarfed down his asparagus while my six year old thought the feathered stalks were a stringy green chore to be endured. What happened?

Somewhere between the highchair and the booster seat the infamous Picky Eater Monster started coming over for dinner.

But at least fruit is still an easy sell. We go through so many banana bunches a week my kindergartner can point out Ecuador on the map. Mangoes are considered a delicacy. Berries are ambrosia. They plow through so many apples, I constantly find apple cores in their various phases of decay hidden about the house like forgotten Easter eggs. But I don’t complain. I’m just so glad it’s fruit and not wrappers of fruit snacks. (Or, as I like to call them, “fruit crack.”)

No, the Picky Eater Monster goes for the greens. The only veggies my eaters will eat in their natural state are cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. After, of course, I smother them in cheese, steam them in sugar water, or bathe them in butter and honey. (The veggies, not the kids.)

I’ll stop at nothing to combat that nefarious beast who stalks my dinner table, whispering things in my children’s ears. The food processor is my first line of defense. It dices veggies so small, it renders them impossible identify. It’s the perfect way to smuggle garden fresh produce into pasta sauces, smoothies, muffins, you name it.

A few seconds on “pulse” and those same black beans that got booed last night are now being mistaken for decadent chocolate chips in the brownies! He, he, hee…

During triumphal moments like these I find myself grinning wildly, drumming my fingers together like some sort of storybook villain, and thinking to myself,

“Two can play at this game Picky Eater Monster!! My maniacal scheme is working!! Their little bodies are already digesting the nutrients! Thaaat’s it… Feast on the fiber my pretties! Mwah, ha, ha!!”

As you can see, I put a lot of time and effort into all this dietary deception and culinary cozenage. That notwithstanding, this Picky Eater Monster still dares to haunt my kitchen table, night after night.

Just thinking about that cheeky fiend makes my tummy hurt.

I think I need some dessert. Perhaps a pan of black bean brownies.

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