The Vegetable Story, as we call it, is an exchange that occurred during a family holiday last year. I made a storybook (aka photobook) for R when we got back, so she would remember her relatives and experiences from the farm life holiday. The Vegetable Story made it into the book and had 2 pages all for itself. It was a story of how a little toddler refused to eat her vegetables and had a very long (and I mean very long) stand-off with her mum. In the end, we both conceded. She ate some of the vegetables and I had to let her go. The hour long episode was witnessed and intervened by her grandmom and a number of other cousin-grandmoms and cousin-grandad.
Since then, arguing about eating vegetables at dinner time has become a thing. When she’s not eating, she tells me she loves vegetables. We talk about how it makes her strong and grow up healthier. At the dinner table, she eats everything but her vegetables, no matter what it is. I insist she eats her veggies. She says she doesn’t like it. We go on. In the end, she eats her veggies (more often than not, I feed her). It is not that she doesn’t like it, sometimes she even does but the back and forth has to happen. She seems to enjoy the exchange. She is funny, that kid.
One night at the dinner table, after I’d tried every way to coax her to eat or at least let me feed her a vegetable that she despised at the time, I pretended that each piece of the vegetable was a sea animal and she was the shark (maybe it was a barracuda) that would gobble them up. She was totally into Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid at the time, so she enjoyed the game. The vegetables disappeared from her plate in a flash. Since then, the game has evolved. Last night, she got to choose what animal the vegetable was, as she ate it. I try to get her to recognize the actual vegetable before she eats it, so she won’t forget that. If she will let me, I call them by first name and last name, like the Mermaid Carrot or the Nemo Beans.
It is fun. When she was younger but just able to eat by herself, I decided that we would eat dinner as a family every night. It meant that we had to move our dinner to an earlier time. It also means that she goes to bed a tad later than we wish. I don’t regret it for one moment. A white coloured wooden five dollar IKEA coffee table serves as our dining table, By it, we have 3 sturdy little chairs I scored from her daycare. She sets the table each night. We serve ourselves. We chat to each other and to her. Some nights, there are arguments, tantrums, disciplining and some nights, it’s just fun. Over time, this tradition has extended to weekend lunches too. Breakfasts are sometimes eaten together. Other times, she eats by herself while we go about our chores. We have the odd days of watching telly and eating in the living room but they are far and few between. Given a choice, she prefers to eat with us and chatter. I feel so proud. Hashtag parentingwin.