HArry Reynolds column: The parental obligation to make kids eat things they hate

One of the obligations of a parent is to make their children eat things they hate. Where and when this sadistic practice emerged, no one really knows. Rare is a victory gained for a serving of broccoli.

The readers of this fine, non-fake newspaper, being of a high degree of intelligence and well-read, saturated in philosophy, science, mathematics, physics and President Donald Trump’s tweets, readily understand the impact of spit peas on history.

Historians believe the Roman Emperor Nero was driven mad when his daughter, Claudia Augusta, bombarded his porridge with peas. He was so incensed that he bought a fiddle and set Rome on fire. This set off a chain of events which led to his demise.

In 1982, in his second year, our pugnacious son began spitting peas. My wife, similarly, bullheaded, resorted to subterfuge. She hid them in his mashed potatoes, which he ate readily enough, but nary a pea made it to his gullet.

He had, in his repertoire, a variety of ways to dispatch peas: Spitting, vaulting them with his spoon, and throwing them. We did the usual things in trying to discourage him, but all failed in the face of his obstinacy.

He achieved great velocity, and some measure of accuracy. Some made the recliner in the living room; others landed in the chandelier; and a few, I would venture, went as far as an earth-bound pea would go.

Many a vegetable not in his favor, he would bury in chairs and couches hide under the sink, in a closet, flushed in the toilet, or in the dog bowl (since the dog also hated peas; they were quickly discovered).

My daughter hated peas, despised broccoli, and abhorred asparagus. She had chipmunk cheeks capable of holding vast quantities of food. She did not fight those paragons of healthy food; consuming them with apparent relish.

After having eaten all the things she liked – chicken, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, etc. – she would go to the bathroom and deposit the things she did not like in the stool. Eventually, we caught her. But, by that time, she was a senior in high school.

Peas have gone to the moon; a few of them ended up on the moon (Neil Armstrong hated peas). Someday, peas may make their way to Mars. But, they may face competition from broccoli.

When he got a little older, we tried the old “You can’t get up from the table until you eat those peas (or broccoli, or asparagus) young man!” In time – around midnight – we surrendered. Not much could have been done in the way of coercion.

For several years, my son lived on fish sticks; breakfast, lunch and dinner; graduating to chicken nuggets, and mustard-free hamburgers. He is an adult now, and thoroughly hates chicken nuggets.

A kid will eat what he wants to eat – a maximum, nevertheless, not easily accepted by parents, intent on rearing healthy children. You keep putting stuff on the table until they stumble across something they like.

Sometimes, that does not work, and they end up with the Department of Children and Family Services, and you end up in jail.

Harry Reynolds can be reached at reynoldsharry1943.gmail.com

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