Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

N.O.P.E.

Eden has been learning about trees this month. Seemed like an appropriate subject for fall. Today we read The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. Of course we had to make some apple pie (to eat with ice cream, of course) as a culmination of this unit. Too bad she almost didn't get to partake of her baking because she just couldn't force down her supper. I can't quite remember, but I think it was she who almost didn't get to eat her birthday dessert last year because she didn't want to eat her birthday meal (the one she had chosen). Or maybe that was Mariana? Or maybe both.

That's nothing new around here. I seem to have created a whole house full of picky eaters. The only non-picky eater is the one who doesn't share my genes. However, she is not free of food-related complaints. She will eat any food, it just takes her forever and usually involves someone else's repeated encouragement to, "Take another bite, please."

We've tried everything. Andrew, of course, was our guinea pig. I think the first attempt to coerce him to eat his supper was to insist that he stay at the table until the plate was empty. But what do you do at bedtime? I guess we could have kept him up all night but something tells me he still would not have eaten his supper. We then tried to just put the food in his mouth and hope it eventually got chewed up and swallowed. Thus followed several bathtimes and bedtimes with grosteque food still in his mouth. I then had to watch while he spit it out in the trash. And of course there was that terrible Thanksgiving when Jesse threw up his turkey on my grandmother because we insisted he eat it. I know my aunt used to serve supper for breakfast the next morning if it wasn't eaten on time but even I couldn't have for breakfast that which was meant for supper.

Which probabaly leads us to the root of the problem. "Hello, my name is Cindy. And I am a picky eater." Let's start by saying that I have improved greatly post-college. However, I will confess that many meals ended up in the napkin. Guess my parents wondered why all of a sudden I needed to wipe my mouth after every bite. But if you had a mother who served liver, calling it "like steak", you'd understand. It wasn't. The smell alone was enough to convince me. And besides, I don't like steak, either. She also put zucchini in every recipe causing me years of stress and an extreme aversion to the green stuff. They say you can't taste it. That may be so, but cake was never meant to have green flecks staring back at you from the fork. It got so bad that one year when the Lillian Vernon catalog came in the mail advertising a great recipe book full of uses for zuchini, I put a huge "X" through it and neatly printed "Sold Out" beside it. I guess it worked because she didn't buy it. Ten years into my marriage and I was still only using yellow squash; never green. It was the principle of the matter. But I got over it.

I was able to find some good uses for my pickiness. For some reason I only ate Raisin Bran for breakfast, only I didn't like the raisins. Some guy in my biology class did like raisins, though, and once I found this out, I never had to dissect another animal in class. For the price of a few raisins and the time it took to dig them out of my bowl before pouring the milk, he did the dirty work. Go figure. Maybe his mom didn't feed him real food at home? Or maybe he was a picky eater, too, and the only thing he liked was raisins. But his mom refused to buy them unless he ate his supper? I really didn't care why he ate the raisins. I just knew I was getting the better end of that deal.

Things were really bad once it was no longer cool to take my own lunch to school. Thankfully the high school had an a la carte line. My daily lunch then became Butterscotch Krimpets and chocolate milk. No wonder I couldn't comprehend math subjects! I bet they came right after lunch when I was crashing from all that sugar. And maybe I would have gotten better grades in gym class if I had added just a little more protein and vitamins to my mid-day meals. And I still can't figure out why I chose chocolate milk; I don't even like chocolate! Probably because I didn't like regular milk and chocolate was my only other choice. There was one advantage to this meal deal and that was the family lunch money rule: At the beginning of the week I was given enough money for 5 regular lunches. Any amount spent over that came out of my own pocket. Any money left-over . . . Even my poor math skills could figure out that I was saving a bundle. I think that's the money that put me through college.

I certainly wasn't alone in my eating habits. My very good friend, Janelle, was just as picky. So, at some women's function where we were forced to eat from the adult menu, we got creative. We decided to start our own organization. We called it the National Organization of Picky Eaters, or N.O.P.E. for short. We, of course, were the founding mothers so could make all the rules. We only needed two.

Rule #1: When asked if you'd like something to eat, just say "Nope."
Rule #2: Always leave a pile on your plate. This can be your vegetables, the skin from your chicken, or the little pieces of onion or pepper you've just picked out of the casserole.

This all worked just fine until I had children. Now I'm learning that wonderful mantra, "What goes around, comes around." Now I am the one telling my children about the wee little starving ones across the ocean. I am explaining that eating what is placed in front of you shows respect for the one who has prepared it. And to their credit, they are usually respectful outside of our home. For the older children, it helped to listen to some other children voice their opinions to a poor hostess serving what she thought was a good meal. That lesson was one I couldn't have orchestrated but went farther than any of my attempts. A trip out of the country also helped to solidify that one. It took a lot of preparation ahead of time but knowing that they weren't going to be allowed anything but what the children in the orphanage had to eat actually made them grow up quickly. Seeing how most of the world eats on a daily basis somehow makes your usual fare more palatable.

But we all have room to grow. I daily dread the loaded question, "What's for supper?" Someone is always unhappy. But someday they are going to thank me. I know they will. Not only will they thank me but they, too, will be hiding zucchini in the bread, cakes, brownies and soups. I know because I've become my mother. I don't even need that zucchini recipe book to know where to add this versatile pest of the food world. It just comes naturally. Have another brownie?

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