Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On chocolate chips and raisins

One year ago I was having a hard time finding things that Addison would eat. She was about to turn two years old, and I was still lamenting the passing of the baby food stage where she'd actually eat stuff I put in her mouth. Maybe some kids just shovel down whatever's put in front of them. Maybe some parents are masters of the kitchen, able to nonchalantly whip up something to hit just the right balance of kid-appeal and nutrition. These are not characteristics of our daughter, or her parents.

One day I came across a little box of raisins. It wasn't ours. Because both Lindsay and I hate raisins. Because they are horrible. All squishy and wrinkly and chewy, and they stick to your teeth. As I'm imagining what it would be like to chew one, my whole body cringes. And when they take on moisture, and they plump up a little and their consistency goes from tough little nuggets of unpleasant to big, juicy explosions of absolutely disgusting I just . . . I just can hardly finish this sentence.

Anyway, there was this box of raisins. Normally I would have tried to pawn it off on someone else, or better, toss it in the trash. Because why encourage something that is horrible, like drinking toilet water or chewing on a hairball? Might not kill your kid, but it's just so incredibly gross.

But I was getting nowhere with Addison's lunch and I remembered the raisins, and I needed her to eat something. In desperation, I poured her a handful of raisins. And she ate them. She ate all of them, the whole box.

I decided that I'd take a hit for the team; I'd allow the foul little grape corpses into my home if they'd offer my kid some constipation relief and something reasonably nutritious to eat. Something besides saltines.

I went out and bought a bulk package of raisins. I put raisins in the car, in the diaper bag, in the pockets of my jacket for emergency tantrums. But my daughter punked me. For a full year, after that day, Addison refused even a single raisin. And trust me, I tried. It was a big package of raisins, and I'd be damned if I was going to just eat the cost while they got older and deader in the pantry. But she's a stubborn kid, and she was not going to touch them. In the end, I convinced myself it was for the best. At least we'd all be consistent in our feelings for the little mummified fruit. A raisin-free house . . . I could be happy with that.

Then, on our road trip this month, I threw in a bag of raisins on a whim. When I offered them to my daughter, she ate the whole bag without a second thought. And when I realized what I'd just done, I almost cried. I'd gotten so used to my daughter's refusals that it had become a sort of ritual between us. I'd halfheartedly try to get her to eat some, reminding her of that one time she ate a whole box of them. She'd shout,
"No! I will never, NEVER eat those raisins!"
And we'd move on to other things, having performed our respective roles in a power-struggle pageant made comfortable by a practiced rehearsal of lines.

But Addison ate the whole bag. Now we can't just go through the motions anymore. If I offer her raisins, she might eat them. And if she becomes known for liking raisins, people will make her things with raisins in them. Her Grammy will put raisins in cookies. Her Nena will put raisins in salad. I can see my future laid out in front of me, booby-trapped with raisins. I can never again put a cookie in my mouth with reckless and joyous abandon. It is a sad day, and I am in mourning.