Sunday, June 7, 2009

Welcome to Kelly's Life, episode 20

Welcome to Kelly’s Life, episode 20

I lie to children. I feel comfortable admitting this to you all because you well know that we, as adults, sacrifice a tremendous amount for the little rugrats and it seems only fair that sometimes we can have our moments of ridiculous glory at their expense. Which means occasionally stretching the truth a wee bit.

So we have this theory at our house that the kids will eat whatever we give them. None of this chicken fingers and hot dogs every night for dinner crap. And if they don’t eat their dinner, they can have it for breakfast, right? I mean, seriously folks, didn’t your parents do that? It’s a time honored tradition to be passed down through the generations. I will say though that we’ve decided to forgo the notion that each child must clean their plate. Just because there may be starving kids in Africa doesn’t mean we need to have a bunch of roly-poly kids. Regarding the loathed green vegetables, the rule is that the quantity of green beans is in direct correlation to the age of said child. Therefore, the five year old will get five green beans, five peas, five broccoli florets…you get the idea.

Understanding the near dinner dictatorship the munchkins must endure, the following scene should come as no surprise. Colin slid into his chair at the table as we were getting ready to sit down to eat our dinner. He wrinkles up his nose and declares, “I don’t like this” before my butt had even settled into the chair. I ponder for a moment and realize that he’s not had this before, so I ask, “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?” He crosses his arms, in his defiant small boy way, and says, “Well… I’m not hungry.”

“Oh. Alright”, I say. I pause a moment, watching as he pushes his mashed potatoes around his plate, and ask, “Do you want cake?” His eyes light up as he says, “YES!” and then quickly sadden as I reply, “Well if you’re hungry for cake, you’re hungry enough for dinner. Eat.” And so of course, as all well seasoned parents have certainly witnessed, he puts in a forkful of potatoes, promptly starts heaving and the rest of us suddenly feel much less inclined to eat.

I could just have cake I suppose.

So after our rather abrupt and suddenly unappetizing dinner, we decide to have Happy Fun Time, and Caitlin decides that she would like to play Truth or Dare. Now here’s where I could go rambling off on some long winded tangent about how we got her to play ding-dong ditch with the neighbors, but I’ll skip that part and get to the point. Caitlin elects “Dare” and I decide to give her eggplant. Yes. That’s right. Eggplant. I think it’s a lovely vegetable actually, such a pretty color, and when doused with an appropriate amount of cheese it doesn’t taste half bad. Into the microwave goes a frozen eggplant parmesan, and I become mesmerized by the glowing numbers counting down to Caitlin’s certain dare demise. Meanwhile, she’s in the living room, getting increasingly upset about choking down this abomination the grow-ups call food. But the best part of it all is: She’s never even had eggplant. She just knows she doesn’t want it. There is no speculation that it may taste good, that it may become her all time favorite food ever. Only her increasingly certain knowledge that it will most likely cause her to die. So she had a complete and total meltdown. Tears. Snorfles. Drama. Most definitely quiet mutterings about how awful we parents are, trying to kill her with vegetables just to win a stupid game.

And then I had an idea.

We schemed. We plotted. We hatched a plan.

The following night, Chris had whipped up some nifty pork thingamabobs. Colin casually strolls into the kitchen and says, “Smells good! What’s for dinner?” And I say, with a twinkle in my eye, “Why, we’re having sea turtle!”.

“Really?” Colin asks. He’s excited. Caitlin is skeptical, but surprisingly willing….and gullible, for a tweener.

The kids get their serving of pork sea turtle and rice, and they begin to eat. And eat. And eat.

“How do you like your sea turtle Colin?”, Chris asks. And the boy nods his head in approval, bits of pork turtle sticking out of his mouth. Now, I must admit, we felt a tiny bit bad about it, but it was working so well…no drama…no tears…no vomiting. What more could we ask for really?

Chris asked Caitlin leading questions to try and clue her in to the fact that she wasn’t eating an endangered species.

“What do you think it tastes like Caitlin…do you think it tastes maybe like…Pork?” To which Caitlin replied, “No. It DEFINITELY tastes like sea turtle!”

After dinner, with not a scrap even left for the dogs, we tell Caitlin. We figured we had to tell her so she didn’t go to school the next day and tell her teacher and friends that she was eating the poster child for the World Wildlife Foundation. After the permanently scarring realization that her folks were liars, she became enthusiastic about joining in on the fun of permanently scarring her brother, and lying right along with us. What fun!
This became a dinner time ritual. Colin would ask what crazy critter we would be eating that night and then get excited about the prospect of eating hippopotamus with snot sauce (pork with apricot sauce), or maggots with a little dirt and weevils (wild rice), or the occasional rabbit that our dog Otter had caught in the back yard (chicken). Caitlin thoroughly enjoyed playing along too, and funny enough, she didn’t seem to mind what she was eating anymore. Oh, of course there would be the occasional comment of not liking her platypus tail (Japanese eggplant), but what can you do? Platypus tail is notoriously squeaky when chewed and there’s just not much you can do about that.

We realized of course that there could be repercussions to this method of getting kids to eat reasonably healthy food. Like when they tell their grandparents and teachers. Or when the Boy thinks he has special skills because of our meal time shenanigans.

Let me explain.

One night we were having pork, the delightfully versatile meat that can pass as being just about anything. It was a pork loin wrapped in bacon. Naturally, that meant that we were having kangaroo tail. Nice fat tail, meaty center, a little skin (bacon) on the outside, all rolled up in a nice tubular presentation. It was lovely. The boy gives the tail a curious poke with his fork, looks at his dad with a questioning expression, as if to say, “Really?” Naturally then, Chris explained to him the following, “If you eat your kangaroo tail, you wouldn’t BELIEVE how high you could jump!” Colin got positively giddy, and started to hoover down his food, and asked for seconds. He leaps up from the table and starts jumping up and down to see if it works. Chris quickly tells him to sit down, lest the kangaroo tail come right back out again and explains, “You have to wait until morning you see. You have to sleep on it before it can work.” He was rather hoping the Boy’s memory would be lacking and he would wake in a daze for school the next morning forgetting the whole thing.


Next day, seven o’clock in the morning, Colin RACES down the stairs, leaps from the fifth to last step and starts jumping up and down, “LOOK! Look at how high I can jump!” hopping, hopping hopping about the kitchen. Rather like a kangaroo, if you get the visual. “I can’t wait to tell my friends!” he declares with exuberance.

Oh sweet mother of god we’re going to hell.

But see…isn’t this a genius scheme we’ve concocted? These kids will eat anything now. They don’t fear unknown food anymore, they don’t complain about eating casseroles or pork loins or large mammalian boogers. They’ll grow up willing to try anything. And that’s good. Please tell me that’s good?

So the moral of the story:
1. Pork truly is the other white meat.
2. Small white lies to wee children are sometimes quite useful.
3. Bringing your tween daughter in on the lie is a bonding experience.
4. Come to our house for dinner…and you’ll never know what your eating.
5. Pork is a versatile undefinable meat product useful to all meal time preparers.
6. Kids will eat anything…if they’re hungry enough