Monday, April 19, 2010

Who has been feeding the dog?

I love food. In fact, simply saying I love food, is probably an understatement. Just ask my wife, ask anyone who I’ve gone to lunch with, or ask any all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant I have visited in the past (you should see the look on the managers face when I walk in the door – I get my money’s worth). For exercise, I ride my bike a few times a week. But the real reason I exercise is to allow myself the ability to eat whatever I want (which I am well aware is not a good wellness strategy).

However, this love of food did not always exist. When I was young I was actually a very picky eater. I was also very stubborn. This, as many of you parents know, was not a fun combination for my mom and dad once dinner time arrived. Nearly everything my mom put on my plate, I refused to eat. In fact, the battles that were waged at the dinner table are legendary. My mom often regretted the phrase, “You will not leave the dinner table until you cleaned your plate!” This only led her to find me still sitting at the table, not one bite eaten, as bedtime arrived.

There were many foods I would refuse to eat, all the usual suspects – spinach, beets (I would often would sacrifice a few tasty macaroni by building a wall to prevent the beet juice from spreading to the foods I actually liked), broccoli, and most anything any color other than white (why I was so color specific is beyond me). In fact, it became a running joke in my family at Thanksgiving that my plate would be full of almost all white foods (white turkey, white mashed potatoes, and white rolls). But there was one food that I was particularly offended by – roast. Why roast? I think it was the texture more than the flavor, but nonetheless, I would gag every time my mother would force me put a bite of it in my mouth.

As I grew older, I began to understand that I was losing the dinner table battles. Not that I ultimately ate the food (because I didn’t), but I would waste all my play time sitting at the dinner table being stubborn. This led to a different strategy, a more devious strategy. I would start the meal refusing to eat the offending food, sitting stoically as if I was settling in for the night as I had many times in the past. Eventually, the family would clear the table, leaving me alone at the table with my plate of cold roast and beets. We did not have a family dog at the time, so I had to search the room for another opportunity to dispose of the evidence. This is when I realized my mom had decoratively placed a fern next to my seat at the dinner table. Why she didn’t see my next move coming is beyond me, but my guess is that when I called her back to the kitchen 20 minutes later she was simply overjoyed to see a cleaned plate. When the fern died a month later and she found a pile of rotting food in the pot, it was simply too late to punish me. It was shortly after this incident that we got a family dog; I guess she preferred me to feed the dog than kill the plants.

Have any of you ever wished upon your children that they, as parents experience the same difficult challenges you experienced as a parent? Well, I am happy to report to my mom, that my son has inherited that same “picky eater” gene. We’ve moved all the plants away from the dinner table, but come to think of it, the dog has gained a few pounds.

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