Published on July 16th, 2015 | by Richard Black2
Parenting Through Political Theory
Yesterday Darcy, per usual, was refusing to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but not for the usual reasons. I’d cut the sandwich into triangles, I let her lick the spoon and the butter knife. I’d even cut off the crusts because I’m a wasteful and hypocritical human being who has chosen to go back on every principal he once held dear (i.e. not cutting crusts off of sandwiches) in the vague hope that it would entice his daughter to eat a foodstuff most children would wolf down in a matter of seconds.
“It looks funny,” Darcy complained once I put the sandwich in front of her.
“Funny how?” I asked.
“It looks mooshy,” she responded and pushed the plate away, “I’m not hungry for this.”
All my careful preparations were for naught. Well not completely for naught. After fixing my daughter a PB&J I decided that I wanted to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch as well.
As I was eating Darcy continued to announce that she wasn’t hungry for a PB&J. She asked for some strawberries, one of her three staples, and I refused. She advanced another option. I retreated, briefly, to consider her request and then refused to put forth my own suggestion which was quickly rebuffed. She put forth another proposal which I withdrew to consider.
It was in this way that we engaged in the “Dance of Lunch” a time honored tradition between parents and their children and one that typically ends like something out of Edgar Allen Poe’s lighter works.
In a desperate attempt to avert the inevitable I tried to entice my daughter to eat her lunch with a piece of cake. It didn’t work. Darcy ended up sobbing on the couch after I issued the ultimatum that she couldn’t have anything else but a PB&J.
“I’m drawing a line in the sand,” I told my daughter who looked at me like I was some sort of maniac or genius, possibly both, “instead of Korea or Vietnam or the Alamo however we’re talking about this sandwich.”
I then went on to describe the geopolitical events surrounding our nation’s fight in Korea, the history of the phrase “a line in the sand”, the Alamo, and really whatever else came to mind for the next ten minutes, none of which did anything to get Darcy to eat a fucking peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“This aggression will not stand,” I said calmly but firmly. Instead of sending stealth bombers into Kuwait and Iraq however I put forth crushing sanctions and then stoically endured my daughter’s leftist complaints about how it was her inherent right to eat something else.
It wasn’t an easy decision on my part but war, like raising children, is hell.
Appeasement has not worked. We lost Poland in the form of cheese pizza last month and quesadillas are looking shaky. In a matter of a few years Darcy’s extensive palate has shrunk to just four items: PB&J, quesadillas, yogurt and strawberries. The situation isn’t improving. In fact it’s becoming even more dire. Just yesterday Darcy decided that she doesn’t like the cheese portion of a quesadilla and prefers to eat just the tortilla. Once peanut butter and jelly sandwiches go by the wayside, yogurt will follow shortly thereafter and my daughter will rely on nothing more than strawberries and milk for sustenance. At this pace I’ll have to hire a wet nurse by mid August because my wife doesn’t believe it’s suitable to breastfeed a five year old.
I’m not kidding by the way at least not entirely. I’m fairly certain that if Darcy thought breast feeding were an option she’d be begging us to pull the breast pump out of storage. That way however lies madness and I’ve got history on my side to prove it. Eisenhower was concerned about communism in Indochina and coined the domino theory. I have chosen to apply the same theory when it comes to meals. Once Korea and Vietnam fall, peanut butter and jelly are sure to follow.
I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to get Darcy to eat and estimate 70% of my mental faculties are dedicated to the thought at any time in any given day. I have tried all the usual tactics coercing her with stickers, enticing her with treats or high powered weaponry, threatening her with punitive measures like “time out’s”, an airstrike or two, all with little success.
A few years ago Laura and I pulled the trigger and launched the nuclear option. It was a tough decision and one that was not made lightly. We knew it would be hard, we did not know how hard. Our policy was that Darcy had to try, try and not eat, every food on her plate or see the same meal again for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if necessary. The tactic failed miserably.
It turns out that Darcy can go for an incredibly long time without solid food. She’s a medical freak of nature apparently and can subsist upon nothing more than photosynthesis and a few snacks when she’s at preschool. It was enough to keep her going for some 48 hours until Laura and I cracked. It’s difficult to not admire this sort of will. It’s also a bit terrifying to witness it as well. Two years later not much has changed and I look forward to mealtimes with the same level of enthusiasm I’d reserve for a rectal exam by VI Lenin’s corpse.
After “PB&Jgate” I determined that a different approach was required and I attempted to appeal to my daughter’s altruistic nature and sense of patriotism.
“Ask not what your father can do for you,” I said when she shoved her plate away prompting me to gently push it back, “ask what you can do for your father.”
Darcy took a tentative bite of the sandwich and announced that she was full.
“Mission Accomplished” I thought to myself.
Two hours later Darcy asked if she could have a bowl of strawberries and, without a second thought about the fact that I’d essentially been played by my five year old daughter, I headed to the fridge to get her some fruit. I realized my mistake when Darcy was halfway through a pint of strawberries and I hoped that it was enough to carry her through to dinner. I was going out with a few friends that night on an aircraft carrier far far away and I imagined regaling them with the tales of my success while my wife was back in Homeistan slugging it out with our daughter over dinner.
Mission accomplished indeed.