by Risa Green
After eight and a half years, I have finally surrendered. I fought hard, I fought courageously, and I fought smart, but alas, the terrorists have won. In the battle that I have been waging with my children’s refusal to eat anything but chicken tenders, pasta and cheese products, I am, ultimately, waving the white flag.
I have used every tactic available to me. There were sneak attacks, like hiding squash and carrot puree in their quesadillas, or zucchini and cauliflower in their mac and cheese. But, like bomb-sniffing dogs, they were able to sniff it out time and time again. I tried intimidation, threatening punishments and withholding dessert if unbreaded chicken wasn’t consumed. I tried negotiating, but I learned the hard way that you don’t negotiate with terrorists. I even, I’m ashamed to say, used torture. There was no waterboarding, but I did once force my daughter to try to a green bean while she was in the bathtub. The pictures of her retching and vomiting while naked in the bath were leaked to the press and circulated on the internet, resulting in official inquiries by those liberals who call themselves grandparents and have no real concept of the imminent danger at hand.
My mission was not, however, a total failure. In my quest to train my children to fight the food enemies on their own, without the need for parental intervention, I did make some advances. My daughter, for example, will now eat skirt steak (though no other type of steak), so long as it is doused in soy sauce. My son genuinely enjoys green peas. I wasn’t, however, able to make any headway into fish, mushrooms, or anything involving sausage. The various expert generals of nutrition who helped me strategize meant well, but in the end they vastly underestimated my opponents. No matter how many times I exposed my children to chicken marsala, brussel sprouts and salmon, they never once expressed interest in tasting any of it. No matter how many times I put dessert on the table with dinner in order to put a stop to the nightly, ‘how many bites do I have to eat’ interrogation, they never saw dessert as just another food. No matter how many afternoons I spent scouring the internet for recipes containing no offensive ingredients, they still never ate what I made.
So, after countless losses and (very) few victories, I’ve made the decision to withdraw my troops, leaving my kids more or less as they were when we began this whole endeavor. There were, of course, some concessions on both sides: I will allow them to eat chicken tenders as often as they want, but only if they are breaded with whole wheat breadcrumbs and baked instead of fried (Earth’s Best makes an excellent, frozen version of this). Further, I will allow them to eat pasta without sauce, but instead of butter and a lot of salt, I will prepare it using extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. Finally, if there is no acceptable vegetable on the table, then raw carrot sticks can be substituted at any time.
We still have our ideological differences, and I’m sure we always will. But since the treaty took effect last week, there has been peace at our dinner table. And really, I can’t think of a better way to start the new year, than with peace.