Friday, February 3, 2012

Food Essay Friday: Mark's Plight: A Story of Love, War, and Banana

Several days ago Mark was really tired. That's not really odd for Mark. He's always been my sleepiest kid and once he gets tired, there's just no shaking it out of him. There was a Christmas morning 2 years ago when I thought he was sick because he just didn't want to get up. Yet after another hour of sleep he was fine. There have been several weekend nights when we've been doing fun things like going out to dinner and he's just lain his head on the table and fallen asleep and then woken up a bit later and been fine. And there have been afternoons when he gets home from school and crashes for a couple of hours. I'll be honest. I'm not sure if it's his body or if he has some type of nutrient deficiency due, as you have certainly noticed if you know Mark, to his incredibly limited diet that consists mainly of peanut butter, bread, and cereal.

At any rate, last weekend we got invited to a friend's house--the friends who are the parents of Mark's best friend. That should be exciting. Mark celebrated by crashing on the couch. When the girls woke him up, he was way groggy and a little shaky. It made me nervous. Was he okay? Was he developing diabetes? Did he have some other weird medical issue causing this? He was feeling fine otherwise, and hadn't eaten much that day--cereal for breakfast and a sandwich and some applesauce for lunch. It was now after 6:00 and I blamed hunger for his shakes.

We got in the car to go and I tried giving him crackers, which he said he didn't want. I'd also brought a banana. Mark likes bananas, but only with peanut butter. Still, it's not like they're gag-gross to him. And it's not like he felt in any way sick to his stomach. Surely, he--this child who was shaking in the car--would eat this banana. No, no he would not.

"Do you feel sick," I asked.


"Then why won't you eat this banana. You're shaking."

"I only like bananas with peanut butter."

I explained in a very rational motherly way that sometimes we eat foods, not because they are pure deliciousness to us, but because they are good for us and they will benefit us in some way.

Naturally Mark nodded understandingly and said, "You're right, Mother. That's very logical and it sounds like a reasonable way to approach both food and life." Oh wait. That's not what he said. He said, "I only like bananas with peanut butter."

And then I said, "How about taking 2 bites?" And then I expounded a little on my very logical thoughts. It was pretty much like discussing food with a chair. No two bites. No nothing. The kid would rather starve to death than take 2 bites of a food that was not repulsive to him.

I like to hope that such straight up stubbornness will benefit him one of these days--surely he'll never start smoking. In the meantime I'll just try to get him to survive to his teenage years and hope for the best.

I also hope that you've enjoyed this little story and that it has made you feel better about your parenting and yourself as a human being when you compare yourself to a mother who can't get her 9-year-old to consume a piece of harmless fruit. You're welcome.

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