“Just try it.”
“It’s just a pea. A petit pois at that. It’s good for you.”
“No thanks …”
And so it goes, every dinner time. Every lunchtime. Every … time time.
All new foods are rejected. None are given a chance. None are given a lick. None are given a try … oh, unless it’s covered in chocolate, then it’s straight in the mouth, no questions asked.
“It’ll make you stronger.”
“It’ll give you muscles.”
“It’ll turn you into The Incredible Hulk?”
“No. No. No.”
I’m not the first parent to go through this. I won’t be the last. Hell, what does it matter anyway? They all go through this, right? It’s just a phase, right? They grow out of it at school, right?
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
You know how I know? Cos I didn’t grow out of it til I was 30. Into my 4th decade of life before I ate something the colour of green. All those years of fish fingers and chips every night before I branched out into the daring worlds of vegetables and steak pie and … well, I’m not sure there is another ‘and’, still, at nearly 40 years of age.
I went through life anxious. Anxious of going to friends’ houses for tea. Anxious of going to restaurants with work. Anxious that I might accidentally lick my fingers after I touched tomato ketchup.
People have always been fascinated by it. Friends. Family. In-Laws. Don’t you like this? Don’t you like that? What about lasagne? What about curry? What about ice cream?
“No. No. No.”
And you know how I know I don’t like them? … ok, so I don’t know for definite cos I’ve never tried them, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like them, you know?
And so, as the ultimate punishment for all my fussiness, a child was sent to me. A child, exactly like I was. Stubborn and inflexible and unshakable in his own belief that new foods are not for him.
And the most torturous part of it all? My fear that he will grow up with all those anxieties, he will grow up with all those irritating questions, he will grow up pale and short and vitamin-free. Just like I did. Just like me.
And so, I’m hard on him. I show no empathy. No pity. I try new foods in front of him. Please son, just try it, you might like it, you won’t know without trying.
He looks back at me, his eyes unmoving.
Please, son! I wish at your age I’d tried all these things. Green things are really tasty, you just need to give them a chance.
Nothing. He gives me nothing. Bribes. Punishments. Beseechments. Nothing.
Why won’t he listen to me? WHY WON’T HE LISTEN TO ME!?
Why won’t he listen to me? Doesn’t he realise I KNOW?
Why won’t he listen to me? Oh yeah, cos I didn’t listen to my parents. Cos he’s his Father’s son. Cos Karma’s a bitch …
Fish fingers and chips tonight again?
“Yes please,” we both say, one nearly 5, one pushing 40.