Child after my own heart

            “Does your child watch television?” one of the preschool applications asks.  Yes, he does.  Zachary gets twenty minutes of television a night – one program without commercials.  He needs the downtime, I need to get supper on the table, and Benjamin needs to eat.

            You see, Ben does not get excited for TV.  He humors it for a few minutes, but, frankly, he thinks it is more fun to play with trucks than to watch cartoons of them.  The only reason he sits still for the first five minutes is because he gets a little pre-dinner snack to hold him off.  An appetizer, if you will, perchance an hors d’oeurve.  I know, I know – it is a bad idea to teach kids to snack in front of the television.  It leads to bad habits and greasy, vacuum-packed, processed potatoes.  But, somehow I think even the most strident of nutritionists could not fault us for what our child eats in front of the television.

            We give him vegetables.  Some nights it is steamed broccoli, and I return to the room a few minutes later to find tiny little broccoli hairs and the discarded bits of stalks scattered about the living room floor.  On nights that dinner will be short on protein, he likes to munch on kidney beans, and we forever finding bits of kidney bean stuck to the chairs, and then to our behinds.  These nights, however, are a bit of a letdown for the child.  Because all he really wants to eat are peas.

            I used to give them to him in the pod, until I realized he was sitting there trying to pick the peas out with his chubby little toddler fingers.  Fine motor skills are not his strong suit.  Now, I just steam some shelled peas, and nothing warms the cockles of his heart more than to realize the evening’s entertainment includes peas.  All he needs to see is a grown-up entering the room with a bowl and he lunges forward, screaming “PEAS!”

            Needless to say, we cut him off at a certain point.  We sort of want him to save room for supper.

            Tonight was one of those sad nights when I was incorporating the vegetables into the main course, so there was no pre-dinner snack at all.  A few minutes after the television program began, J entered the room to see if Benjamin had finished his cup of milk.  (Zachary does not actually acknowledge our presence during the program, except now and then to ask us to leave the room, please.)  Ben, ever the accommodating child, handed the cup to his father, then gave him a hopeful little smile.


            “No, Benjamin, no peas tonight.”

            A few minutes passed.  Now I needed to go through the living room.  Benjamin lit up at the sight of me.  “Peas?”

            “No, sweetie.  I don’t have any peas tonight.  I’ll make you some tomorrow.”  Just so you do not think I was holding out on my son, let me point out that I have run out of peas.  We are currently pea-less. 

            A few minutes later, Benjamin came waddling into the kitchen.  “Peas?”  We were starting to feel like pretty negligent parents, I must admit.  “No, honey, no peas tonight.”

            He tried a different tack: “Beans?”

            “Ben, dinner is almost ready.  It’s chicken.  Just hold on a few minutes.”

            Now he was not just hungry.  Now his feelings were hurt.  He began to cry.  “Beans,” he sobbed.  “Beans.”  To my maternal eyes, he was truly disconsolate, although J contends it was mostly performance art.  I caved, pulling out a can of kidney beans and shoving it into J’s hands.  This made Benjamin progress from crying to weeping.  He could see the beans.  He could almost touch the beans.  But he could not yet have the beans.  Daddy took his sweet time, fumbling with the can opener, rinsing out a handful, searching for a small bowl.  It was not until J set the bowl down on the floor, as though feeding a famished puppy, that Benjamin calmed down, seating himself with the bowl between his legs and tucking into a bowl of cold kidney beans.

            You will be happy to know that this did not spoil his supper.  He ate rice; he ate chicken, pausing every now and then to exclaim “Chi-en!”  He had a second helping; he guzzled milk.  He ate more rice, pushing it to the edges of the plate so he could admire Thomas the Tank Engine in the middle.  Then, stuffed to the gills with beans and chicken and brown rice, he turned to me.


I think I need to stock up.

26 responses to “Child after my own heart

  1. my children are appalled by the sight of peas. in fact, if jack sees that peas are on the menu, he races upstairs (like the town crier that he is) to deliver the bad news to ben.

    but i remember a time when jack used to go nuts over broccoli. sadly, that is a time far behind us.

  2. So. Awesome! More, peas!

    My kids snack in front of the TV as well. But for us, it’s fruit – preferably blueberries or raspberries. My kids could live on berries.

    Broccoli? Never worked for us.

  3. can my kids come over for snack time? because the DO NOT eat veggies and fruits in front of the TV…. they eat the bad stuff.

  4. Darn those fumbling fathers with their big fingers making desperate babies wait for their beans.

    Kidney beans and cottage cheese are a favorite combination here. The look of horror on my sister-in-law’s face when she saw me serve that to my daughter is a precious memory to me, warming me in these dark days of “Spongebob Cheez-its” in front of the TV.

  5. That’s so great, this boy’s love of peas. And I’m very impressed that you steam up fresh peas. Peas are among the veggies that we buy frozen. (Actually, I don’t even recall seeing peas in the pods in the store. Only snowpeas.)

    Has Ben tried edamame?

  6. I love it! Jack Jack loves broccoli. Last night he stuck it into his mac&cheese so it was standing up and then ate the tops off. He used no hands or utensils to eat the tops, because, as he informed us, he was a giraffe.

    I can usually hold my boys off with raw carrots, unless the spy junk food first.

  7. This is the cutest story ever. You must find wa way to NEVER become pea-less again!!

    I forbid it!!


  8. This is an amazing, deep vegetative love. I hope you take credit for this as evidence of your superior parenting? After all, we guilt ourselves like mad over all sorts of things we have no real control over (WHY does my middle child like foul, neon orange mac and cheese? WHY??) so why not pride ourselves on the random wonderfulness our children come up with as well?

  9. LOL at Megan and “deep vegetative love”…

    btw, everyone knows that a dirty suburban secret of moms who frequent posh preschools is lying about tv. i’m sure you don’t, but everyone else does, so feel superior, why don’t you!

  10. Read him the children’s book, “My Little Sister Ate One Hare,” by Bill Grossman. It might break the pea addiction . . . .and if not, it will surely make him laugh! 🙂

  11. Adorable!! My kids have always loved their veggies too and I’m so grateful for that! Broccoli has been especially big for us (eat your trees!).

  12. Oh! So funny! I need to get some peas.

  13. Oh, this is the sweetest.

    Bean used to love broccoli, but no more. However, he will reject almost anything in favor of Miso soup with seaweed and tofu, with a big bowl of rice and soy sauce on the side.

  14. My daughter also worships at the altar of peas but she will only eat them frozen. We keep frozen peas and corn on hand for all occasions. I would break out in a cold sweat if we ran out.

  15. Like Mad, mine likes frozen peas still frozen. Go figure.

  16. Awww….gotta love it when they love something that’s good for them! My Ben also loves his peas and will occasionally eat a green bean or two (begrudgingly, of course), but he’s got a number of sensory issues, so I’m happy for ANY veggies he eats.

    Hmmm…I should try beans. I bet he’d love them.

  17. my mom used to feed us frozen peas. we loved them!

  18. Emily, I love your idea of the pre-dinner snack of veggies! My kids are in for a treat tonight!

  19. I try to stuff my children with various forms of high protein in the hope it will keep them satiated for longer than an hour.

    I think it’s great he loves peas that much.

    Does he go through fads with food? Persistence does.

  20. chi-en!

    He sounds like SUCH a doll.

  21. What an adorable story. And, “pea-less” – too funny! Take care. Kellan

  22. Asher loves veggies too. But I’ve been eating so much protein lately that it’s shown up in his diet too. Today’s lunch was black beans, a cheese quesadilla, and an apple. How’s that for fiber? He’ll eat peas, but his all-time favorite food is salmon. He will eat salmon as long as I put it on his plate.

  23. Peas were the bane of my childhood. I think I must have been 16 or 17 before my mum said “Gee, you really don’t like your peas do you, I guess it’s not a fad” and let me stop having them. Even now if I am eating at a friends house and am served peas I have to swallow them whole so the dreadful taste doesn’t get on my tongue – instant gag.

  24. Cute story. For my son, it’s not peas but carrots. He love carrots. So, I can be pealess but I can’t go carrotless! 🙂

  25. It’s a joy to have a child who likes healthy food. My boy is a junk-foodaholic but my girl has gravitated towards healthier choices. The words “No like cookie. Have carrot?” have actually come out of her mouth.

  26. Hobbes would eat veggies all day long if I let him. Still working on the protein thing, though. He does love black beans. Where do these kids come from, and why aren’t they all like that?

    Oh, and you are so not hurting your kids with 20 minutes of Thomas and some broccoli. Mine get Mr.Rogers and apples.