Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mr. Broccoli

When I was about 10, I had this friend.  I spent a lot of time with her and her family.  My sister and I would stay over at their house, go out to eat with them, etc.  Well, my friend had a dad (we'll call him Mr. Broccoli).  Mr. Broccoli apparently decided that it was his mission in life to cure me of being a picky eater.

Now listen people, I teach preschool.  I spend everyday with the same kids.  Everyday I try to shape and mold those children with my influence in small ways.  I hope that some of it will produce something good in them one day (I am certain that some of it is negative.  I'm far from perfect).  However, the fact is this; every night those children go home to be with their parents.  Every night, 97% (this percentage was totally made up) of what I try to instill in them goes down the drain.  Every morning, they come back, for better or for worse, as the children that their parents are raising them to be.

Mr. Broccoli had little to no chance of success in this matter.  He had me at his home maybe once every few weeks.  My parents had allowed me to get out of eating what I didn't want to eat for about 8 years.  Oh sure, he forced me to eat something off the buffet at a Chinese restaurant once, (just some plain, fried chicken breast pieces...something I was already eating, but which scared me because it looked different) but there was no way that my whole life was going to change over this.  I recall that once he tried to make me eat a piece of broccoli at his house.  I downright refused.  I was crying over it, and he was insistent that I try it.  My parents happened to show up during the escapade, and I finagled my way out of tasting the broccoli.  Looking back, I suppose my parents were spoiling me.  They probably should have made me eat that broccoli or at least taste it.  But let's face facts, at that point there was zero chance I was going to like it.  I was predetermined to find it disgusting.

I remember another time when a friend's parent was seriously annoyed with me.  She had asked if I liked hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.  I'd said that I did.  Well, when she called us in for lunch, I discovered that the hot dog was actually cut up and put IN the mac and cheese.  I was horrified.  There was no way I was putting that in my mouth!  I'm sure she tried to force me to eat it.  I'm equally certain that I did not.  I really was a stubborn kid!  I have no idea why the idea of these two foods touching was so shocking to me, but I certainly remember that it was!

I tell you these stories because 20+ years later, I still remember them.  They were huge deals in my life.  That seems absurd.  Why should a piece of broccoli and some hot dogs in mac & cheese have had such an impact? But that's how it was.  Eating is emotional for me.  It always has been. My eating habits have controlled my life in so many ways.  They were controlling my life as a small child.  They controlled it as a teenager.  They controlled it in college and on into my adulthood.

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