Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life is Funny - Your mother's revenge


It's time to bring out the funny! Wait. Where did I put it? It was here a minute ago...

Ten years ago, I got an email that I thought was pretty darn funny. And since I tend to hold on to funny emails, it's still in my funny folder. It was one of those emails that look like they've been passed around a bit, but the original story was written by Rob Suggs. Being a picky eater myself, I could totally relate to his story. Having a picky daughter made it even more so. So without further ado...

"I Yam What I Yam"

The finicky eater is widely misunderstood--reviled and persecuted for the crime of dining in the courage of his convictions; punished for being a five-year-old with discriminating taste.

My own dietary selections, for example, were made manifestly clear to those around me by the time I'd hit nursery school. I had chosen hamburgers and fried chicken--a simple enough menu that should have made life easy for those who fed me. With the world of vegetables I had no quarrel; I'd examined them closely and concluded they were not for me. If the rest of the family wanted to gorge themselves on stewed carrots and asparagus, they had my blessing. I'd made my lifestyle choice and wished people to respect it.

But Mom would not rest until I tasted her reptilian-slimy beans or reeking cabbage. Early on I saw how it was going to be--broccoli; okra; turnip greens. Each night brought some new, outrageous demand upon my diet.

Like most armed conflict, it always began with smiling rounds of diplomacy. "Spinach is good for you! Don't you want to grow up to be big and strong?"

"Not really."

"Popeye eats his spinach. Do you want the Brutuses of the world to beat you up?"

(This was a sneaky move, because Popeye was my greatest hero. He had the voice. The walk. The laugh. How dare my parents invoke his name, especially since the cartoon seemed filled with eating disorders. Brutus was obese; Olive Oyl was anorexic. Wimpy? He was a compulsive burger-binger, and no one had a problem with it. Why couldn't I be like Wimpy? As for Popeye . . .)

"Popeye has a tattoo," I said. "If you'll let me have a tattoo, I'll eat your spinach."

This was where the smiles ended. "Millions of starving children across the world would love to have your dinner," Mom would say with cold international sweep.

"I realize that, and it fills me with sadness," I'd say. "I find I can't eat for thinking about it."

Eventually Dad would be sent to the front lines. The mind games were over. "You're going to eat your vegetables because we say so!" he bellowed. "Come on now, open wide!" I can remember that awful fork, dripping with rank, odious juices, being cruelly thrust at my mouth. I deftly dodged, turning the other cheek.

"Well, then, you'll just sit here until you decide to eat what we serve you."

This strategy was tried only once. The vegetable in dispute was yams, the most aesthetically troubling dish I'd laid eyes on in all my five years. No way that brown lump of vegetation was passing my lips. If my parents wanted a standoff, I'd give them a standoff. Everyone left the table. Mom did the dishes and finally, sadly, turned out the kitchen light. "It sure is going to be lonely in here," she said pleadingly. I sniffed pathetically.

Here's a secret: kids embrace martyrdom. It holds a kind of power that seldom falls into their hands. Suppertime battles are among the few conflicts a child can win. They know they can wear their parents down sooner or later. I might eat your peas today, if things get nasty; I might even give in to the squash tomorrow, if you've got an hour to spare for psychological combat. But are you committed to a long-range war?

It was Mom and Dad's own personal Vietnam: an unwinnable conflict that could take years.

That's why I did my time at the big, empty table, just the yams and me. Parole had to come sooner or later. I could hear the shooting in "Gunsmoke" in the next room. Mom snuck in for a glass of water or some sad excuse. I could feel her worrying that she was scarring me for life somehow. Yes! Her lower lip was quivering. I'd been prepared to hold out at least 'til breakfast--but now I could see the allied coalition was falling apart. There were argumentative whispers in the next room.

I was pretending I was just about to faint into the cold yams when the terms of surrender came down. I was exiled, of course, to my room, where I could gloat among my books and toys.

Now, of course, I'm blessed with not one but two finicky children. What they won't eat appalls me--tacos; lasagna; barbecued pork. "You kids don't know how good you've got it," I tell them with disgust. "When I was a kid,we fought battles over important foods: brussels sprouts, stewed carrots. Dishes that would make you scream in terror. You don't know the prices we paid to create the fast food society you take for granted."

They just roll their eyes and trot out the old can-I-leave-the-table excuses. "Yeah, yeah, I know the routine," I interrupt. "Don't forget, I wrote the book. Once I was the best. Now hush and eat your microwave burrito."

Now it's your turn. Ready to play? Here's what you do.

1. Anytime this week, blog about what in life you find funny. It could be something that happened during the week, your general impression about why life is funny, or even just your favorite joke. Be creative!

2. Please put a link to my blog in your post. And I'd appreciate it if you'd add my carnival button (made for me by Andie - thanks so much Andie!) to your post. To make this easy, I've put the code to do so under my blog button on my sidebar to the right.

3. After you've posted, come back here and sign up on Mr. Linky below. For the first box, put your name and your blog (example: Wendy @ Weight...What?), then your URL in the second box. Make sure you link directly to your "Life is Funny" post (not to your main page) so we can all read what you have to say.

4. Visit all the other participants and see what they have to say, even if you don't have a blog of your own. And very important: Comment, comment, comment! Oh, how we love getting comments...

5. If you Twitter, please tweet about this - the more participants, the merrier! So go out and spread the laughter! I can't wait to see what everyone has to say!


katdish said...

I had on finicky, one not so much. Now they both pretty much eat anything. Sort of like their mom.

Nick the Geek said...

My daughter will eat most things (the oldest) but the youngest girl is a fight. I have found that she seems to think she is royaly. She will actually eat anything so long as we are spoon feeding her.

My oldest son will eat anything at school. They compliment him on being such a good eater. If he doesn't clean his plate they tell us they think he is getting sick. At home ... yeah right I've never seen such a picky and slow eater. Everyone has eaten, the dishes are done and he has made it though one bite. And that if he likes it. We've taken to setting a timer after everyone else is done.

The baby .. yeah he has two teeth now and will devour anything he can get. The boy is voracious. Seriously count your fingers before and after or you may wake and think, "didn't I have a pinky yesterday?"

PamperingBeki said...


Only one of my three is a picky eater, fortunately.

And I'm pretty sure Kermit was looking at you, but I didn't want to say anything.

Mylestones said...

If I could combine the eating habits of my 2 yo and 4 yo, we'd have the perfectly balanced diet. My 2yo has sworn off fruit and veggies, and claims she can live on cheese alone. My 4yo will eat anything grown from the ground but won't touch the stuff that offers protein. Oh well, they'll live through it and so will I, right?