Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Saga of Little Miss Picky Eater, the Chocolate Stash, and a Parallel Universe

My daughter has a stash of chocolate that's accessible to her 24/7, but she rations it with the sensibility of someone who lived through the Great Depression. Surprisingly this stash isn't touched unless she asks us first. I marvel at her will power. If I had a chocolate stash, it would be reduced to wrappers strewn about the house. In every nook and cranny there would be spangles of foil, serving as miniature monuments to my gluttony.
However, my daughter rations her candy, and each night after dinner she carefully selects just one of her Hershey miniature candy bars, delicately unwraps it, and savors each nibble of what she refers to as dessert. She milks 16 ounces of enjoyment out of these little 3/8 ounce bars.

(This page from Mo Willem's book Knuffle Bunny Too mirrors dinner at our household.)

Last week we banned our daughter from desserts. We resorted to this drastic measure after Little Miss Pickyeater refused to eat her omelet for supper. After polishing off her fried potatoes, she informed us that she was too full to eat the omelet, but that she probably had room in her dessert pocket for a little chocolate. Since my wife and I like our logic to be grounded in science, we scoffed at her claim and delivered an ultimatum, which eventually led to a ban of desserts and dips into the chocolate stash for an entire week.

During her week of probation, I'm sure my daughter wished she had different parents who indulged her every whim. I'm sure she wished she had a father who would always choose to don a black robe and play Harry Potter with her rather than one who tells her, "Not now. I need to blog." It's only natural. I thought of this frequently while reading Neil Gaimen's book Coraline.

In the book Coraline encounters a passageway that leads to a parallel universe where she encounters other parents who appear perfect and who focus their collective attention solely on Coraline. These ideal or other parents even bring their "A-game" to the dinner table:

They sat at the kitchen table, and Coraline's other mother brought them lunch. A huge, golden-brown roasted chicken, fried potatoes, tiny green peas. Coraline shoveled the food into her mouth. It tasted wonderful.

It was the best chicken that Coraline had ever eaten. Her mother sometimes made chicken, but it was always out of packets or frozen, and was very dry, and it never tasted of anything. When Coraline's father cooked chicken he bought real chicken, but he did strange things to it, like stewing it in wine, or stuffing it with prunes, or baking it in pastry, and Coraline would always refuse to touch it on principle.

I'm sure my daughter will relate to Coraline. I'm sure my daughter would love a other father who served conventional childhood meals consisting of Kraft Mac & Cheese and hot dogs, but better or for worse, she's stuck with me, a father who blogs, prepares strange dishes like jalapeno-lime sorbet, and occasionally transforms into Mr. Crankypants.


rebel said...

I'm sure she wants no other. She looks so cute sittin' there. All kids and parents go through this. At least you care enough to take the time to sit down and eat dinner with her. I heard on the news that most families don't eat dinner together anymore! Crazy world we live in. Hang in there, she'll thank you someday.

Marianne said...

Poor baby! I think that her saying that she didn't have any room for the omelet was her polite way of saying that she doesn't like your omelets. I'd let her eat the chocolate for dessert. :)

Sarah said...

I admire a child who can ration chocolate, but I admire even more some parents who like their dinner logic grounded in science. I want to live in Coraline's universe, too :) If I did, I think that people would always hold the elevator, never cut me off in traffic, and my recipes for Fritter would always turn out beautifully. *sigh*

Kate said...

I am marveling at your daughter's will power. I can't even do that unless I lose the chocolate in my cupboard behind the vitamins.

Ruth said...

As child you "hated" eggs. And you never had to worry about the expiration date of your chocolate. You never had it long enough to for it to be qualified as a "stash".
Perhaps Ella should get time off for good behavior.

Nella said...

I love when you write about your family. Your words smile. N

rebel said...

Hey Muddy, I received my CD. Thank you for sendin' me a cookbook too. I love cookbooks. It was a pleasant surprise to find it in the package too. That was very nice of you and I really appreciate it. Thanks

High Plains Drifters said...

you are much better parents than i. i could never look that girl in the eye without totally melting.

Maggie said...

My son Alex is going through a pickier eating phase right now and is wishing for new parents as well. He wants his new parents not stressed out about this new house he didn't ask for. Good luck with your picky eater!