“There’s one in every family,” is a familiar saying. Usually people use this old adage to describe a crazy relative or a disappointing black sheep. Note: Remember that if you don’t know who the crazy relative is, then it’s probably you. Ok, back to the story. When I say there is “one in every family,” I’m talking about picky eaters and we have one very picky eater in my house.
And last week we experienced what will surely go down in history as the dreaded “fattest carrot incident.”
For starters, the finicky eater I’m referring to is my son Jack. He’s a healthy, smart, friendly 7-year-old that doesn’t believe in eating a wide variety of healthy foods. In fact, his favorite food group is the one my husband and I call “beige” and it includes anything that resembles crackers or bread.
Obviously I want my family to eat healthy and Jack’s food issues are an almost nightly battle. I continue to serve everyone nutritious foods like cucumbers, red peppers, apples, berries, etc. and Jack continues to resist. He’ll usually eat fruit but vegetables are another story.
Recently on a Friday night I thought it would be cool to serve a fun (and junky) dinner; we had corn dogs, Pringles and ice cream sandwiches. Listen, judge me if you want, but even the most well-intentioned people take the night off once in a while. I’m never going to be a 100% healthy eater 100% of the time.
Anyway, back to the crappy-but-delicious dinner. I figured all three kids (including Jack) and my husband John would be thrilled to partake in a meal that more resembled a reckless night out at the fair than a normal family dinner.
Unfortunately, my parental guilt kicked in at the last minute and I decided I needed to provide one healthy element.
Kombucha to the rescue! I’ve been really into the benefits of kombucha lately and, if you don’t know, kombucha is a drink that is basically fermented tea with tons of beneficial bacteria (like yogurt).
As I have done in the past, I took a bottle of ginger/berry komucha out of the fridge and poured a tiny, half inch amount into three kid-sized glasses. There was less than a normal sized shot in those cups, but I figured that since the bottle contained millions of healthy bacteria, at least a few hundred would make it into each kid.
Here’s where things spiraled out of control. Unbelievably while facing a mountain of corn dogs and ice cream, Jack balked at the kombucha. And when I say balked, I mean he threw a fit. He raged at being made to consume a miniscule amount of kombucha and vowed he would not drink it. Even when presented with the threat of going to bed (which he has had to do before during dinner), Jack railed against the insanity of his stupid, mean, unfair parents.
I watched this familiar scene unfold while stuffing Pringles in my mouth and I thought to myself, “You have got to be sh*#ting me. Is Jack really throwing a fit about a thimbleful of kombucha while he has corn dogs and chips on his plate?”
Yes, apparently Jack really was pitching a huge b#tch about the kombucha. He cried real tears and then begged to be allowed to pour water into the cup to make it taste better. I replied that he could add water to the kombucha if he wanted but it would just add more liquid to drink. Duh.
Jack ran to the sink anyway and added about 3 inches of water to his ½ inch of kombucha and I knew this was not going to end well.
Kombucha is fizzy. I’m not a regular soda drinker but I am familiar with the stuff and I know that watered down pop does not taste good. Do you like it? Probably not and neither did Jack. He quickly found out that watered down kombucha was disgusting.
Unfortunately, Jack now had a real problem on his hands because John and I said he still had to drink it. We reminded him that everyone else drank their kombucha and that it was his own fault that he had three times as much to drink as the other kids.
There was actual flailing around in his chair at this news. Wishing that I could be anywhere else except where I was, I simply added more Pringles to my plate and hoped the storm would blow over soon.
At that point John inexplicably wondered out loud if a splash of grape juice would make the watered down kombucha taste better. One quick and hopeful dash to the fridge resulted in even more liquid being poured into what was once a healthy (and tiny!) dose of flavored bacteria.
As you can probably imagine, the grape juice did more harm than good. I like kombucha, but on its best day there are always notes of feet mixed in with the berry and/or ginger flavors.
Grape juice, berries and fizzy feet do not a good drink make.
Jack really ratcheted up the sobbing and complaining and I couldn’t blame him. However, I was starting to understand that Jack must surely be facing a future of mediocre standardized test scores because how did he not see that a tiny sip of kombucha was less than a cup full???
By now a good 20 minutes had passed and I was sitting at the table marveling at how dumb I was to think that even a corn dog/chips/ice cream dinner would make everyone happy. Apparently John was feeling my vibe because he began to bargain with Jack and he included an evil twist. Innocently, and in that defeated tone that Jack knows well, John said that since we wanted him to drink kombucha to be healthy, he could just eat a carrot instead.
Jack immediately lit up because he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. He hates carrots (of course!) but is used to eating them to appease us, as long as he can choose the skinniest, tiniest baby carrot in the bag. We usually go along with this tactic because of the obvious.
But, here’s where the evil twist came in. John told Jack that he would choose the carrot, not Jack. And John leaned in close and said, “I’m going to pick the fattest carrot we have. And you’re going to eat it.”
I doubt that even a first-time skydiver, poised anxiously at the edge of a plane’s open doorway, experiences the amount of sheer panic that Jack’s expression showed as it was falling from triumph. You could see the wheels turning in his little 7-year-old brain as he explored the possibility of either drinking the ruined kombucha or eating the fattest carrot.
Several minutes of exaggerated jaw chomping later, the fattest carrot was history and so was dinner. Yikes. Next time we have corn dogs I’ll just make everyone eat kale chips as a side, along with a carrot substitution option of course. The struggle is real, people.
By the way, I happen to be drinking a bottle of kombucha right now. If you ever catch me thinking about adding kombucha to a dinner menu, please throw something at me immediately. Preferably the fattest carrot you can find.