an emotionally unstable pint sized dictator with the uncanny ability to know exactly how far to push you to utter insanity before reverting to a lovable cuddle-monster.
I nervously laughed when I read those words aloud. Actually I wanted to cry, but people were standing near and I felt I had to keep my appearances up. This definition of toddler completely encapsulates what life with a four year old means in our household. One day varies so greatly from the next, leaving Lisa and I to wonder which son we will have each morning.
Could it be the tender, wide-eyed Beau that waxes on poetically about his professed love for us, his stuffed bunny and all things queen Elsa. Or maybe the ranting pint sized dictator issuing Caligula-like edicts if we don’t adhere to his list of ‘won’t eats’ for that particular meal. Sure, I humored him through his short lived white phase and joyously joined him in the infamous red phase where all foods eaten had to be in a tomato sauce. I thought it would end at some point. But it continued next into shapes. Toast had to be cut into perfect shapes, you know circles, triangles and whatever his devious mind could invent.
As a housewife, I feel that if the kids are still alive when my husband gets home from work, then hey, I’ve done my job.
Now those days have long since passed and I have hardened my resolve of not giving in. I have resorted to lying and threatening by whatever means necessary. Yes, proud parenting moments. I am waiting for Good Parenting Magazine to call at any moment. Twice this week I feigned calls to the Easter bunny to stop the delivery of brightly colored chocolate Easter eggs. ‘Hello mister Easter bunny. This is Beau’s father. I’m afraid Beau has been making red choices again. Yes I know he was doing well but now it is red choices again.’ His face quickly changes from an angry red-faced Roman emperor to the more normal lovable Beau as he sadly apologizes and promises to make green choices if only the bunny will still come. I am not proud of this development but it gets us where we need to be and I no longer feel the urge to kill my child.
Every night we drink a fresh vegetable juice made with organic carrots, romaine, lemon, ginger and fennel. Sir Beau is required by law to drink it. Every single night he demands that it has no ginger if he is to drink it at all. He warns me before, ‘Daddy I don’t like ginger. I don’t want any!’ Then proceeds to survey the orange frothy liquid, swirling his glass like a wine connoisseur discerning the elements of a rare Burgundy in his juice glass. After much consideration he announces, ‘Daddy, there’s ginger in there.’ I used to actually leave it out. The funny thing is he absolutely loves ginger. I know because I cook a very gingery broccoli stir fry. He knows ginger is in there because I point out the irony every single time. I ask Beau how he likes it and he tells me it tastes great. He even begs for it for lunch at school the next day.
One thing I noticed over time, and perhaps way too many bottles of wine, is that when he is involved with his food he loves everything. You do not have to be a child psychologist to understand the values of spending time together rather than letting a tv set and video games raise your child. Sure, sometimes the urge is strong to have just a brief second of what life was before Damian the devil child joined us. Sometimes I do want to put on a never ending loop of Disney classics, spill six bags of candy on the kitchen floor and leave for a day just to sleep unfettered and have one full meal without a negotiation.
For us as foodies, food is more than just the simple fuel that propels us through the day. Food is the source of life, health, community, enjoyment and communion with nature. Getting Beau incorporated into this edible landscape involves visits to farmer’s markets, oyster farms and orchards. Participating in great meals by talking about the foods and wines. Having a clear understanding where food comes from and respect for the animals who gave their lives for our sustenance. An early appreciation fostered by parents will lead to a lifetime of great choices and habits.