Wednesday, December 19, 2007


They drive me crazy, they really do. What is wrong with them, and why can't they just eat like normal people?

But just when I am really going to blow my top, two things happened this week that reminded me of why it is not so bad that they are like that, and how actually we adults are not too different.

First thing: We had some English muffins in the house. We sometimes use whole grain English muffins for hamburger buns, the way this swanky restaurant on Nantucket where I used to work does. (Theirs aren't whole grain, but still, it's a nice sturdy hamburger-holder.) But these ones in our house were so white and soft and refined, they were practically marshmallows. We almost never have this crap in the house. But this one occasion, we did. It's a long story why. Let's just say we did.

Other than these particular English muffins, we had almost nothing else to eat in the house to eat. It was Saturday morning, and I was trying to get out to the park to walk the dog, and the kids were hungry for breakfast. Fine, I made them a couple white flour English muffins, with butter and cinnamon and sugar. (Can you believe this? Am I even fit to be writing abut food for families? But, come on, we all have our low moments. And anyway, when it's whole grain sprouted spelt or whatever, and the sugar is Sucanat -- which doesn't really fit through the holes in the cinnamon-sugar shaker, so it's mostly cinnamon anyway -- it's not such a bad breakfast.) (Don't get me started on the chocolate croissants I get for them, which I feel like is okay because, like, French people do it.)

Anyway, I served them this evil, foul white bread, assuming it was going to be this huge excitement. White bread and sugar! Cinnamon! Butter! Nooks and crannies! But no. My kids cried. They literally cried, they were so devastated. They had never seen a white English muffin before, and besides, English muffins are for hamburgers. Here was their weird mom, once again trying to trick them into eating some freaky food none of their friends has ever heard of. They weren't doing it. They wanted Ezekiel Sprouted Multi-grain toast with Sucanat, or nothing.

Why? Because it's what they're used to. And that's the trick. That's the bottom line. What they are used to is what they will eat. Used to macaroni and cheese? Used to pizza in front of the TV? Used to vegetables on their plates? Used to having the same thing the parents have? Used to dessert every night? Used to no dessert? That's what they'll eat. It's how we are, all of us.

And this is the other thing. My four-year old did a cooking project at her pre-school last week. So cute! I love when they do cooking projects. But I don't really want to have to eat them. Especially when it's a mashed up ball of unidentifiable ingredients with a few million flakes of pre-schooler detritus mixed in. Palm flakes, nose chips, glitter specks, paint dust, you get the picture of where my mind was going. There was no way I was eating this thing, no matter how hard my daughter begged.

This is terrible and wrong, I know. My daughter was so proud of her creation, but I was completely flipped out at the idea of eating it. I was completely repulsed, if you want to know the depth of my aversion. But I kept forgetting to throw it away when she wasn't looking. So tonight she pulled it out of the fridge and took it out of the pretty cellophane bag, and it was really the moment of truth. She was holding it in our faces, unwrapped, imploring us to eat it, this hunk of brown matter. Did she want to eat it? No, definitely not. Did the 8-year-old want to eat it? What, are you kidding? No one wanted to eat it. It was mysterious and disgusting, a handrolled ball of light brown stuff with black streaks mixed in. Would you eat something like that?

Since first encountering it last week, I had seen the recipe posted at the preschool. Okay, so now I knew that it was made of crushed walnuts and dried cherries. Okay, so it was like a Lara Bar. This helped. Then, it spent several days in the fridge -- arrgh! that critical period, in which I completely forgot about it and thereby lost my chance to get rid of it forever. Okay, I can't keep wallowing in this regret.

Chilling helped. Under great pressure from my four-year old's earnest gaze, I finally took a sharp knife and cut the brown ball into thin slices, superstitiously paring off the outside edges, where, I figured, most of the palm-cells and nose-bacteria were living. I took a tentative, sensorially-disengaged bite. Okay, so it tasted delicious. It tasted exactly like a cherry Lara Bar. It didn't matter what it tasted like. It was still disgusting. My husband had a nibble, and then, our obligation satisfied, when our daughter wasn't looking I threw the rest away.

Now I know how my kids feel. Some stuff is not good, no matter what it tastes like, what it's made of, or how much love went into it. You still don't want it. I need to remember this moment.

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