“Do you have canned pineapple?”
No hello. No ‘Isn’t it a lovely day?’. I burst in to the little country general store like a wild woman, a woman on a mission.
The man behind the counter peered over top of his half glasses at me, clearly evaluating the level of manic disturbance that had just burst through his door. He really didn’t need to worry that much about me. I wasn’t manic. Just tired. Sick and tired of living the saga of the child that would not eat.
In the almost two days we had been at the cottage resort for our vacation, where 3 meals a day on a limited menu were provided, Nikki had eaten a sum total of: one grilled cheese sandwich, three dinner rolls with butter, one chicken finger, fifty or sixty potato chips, twenty two gummy bears and countless glasses of milk. Nary a fruit or veggie in sight.
This of course was mostly my fault. I had decided NOT to pack
strawberries and red peppers and edamame, those ubiquitous edibles from our daily lives at home. I had decided that this vacation would be the beginning of a new eating policy in our home. Yes, I chose to start this on MY vacation. No, surprisingly, I was not under the influence when I made that decision, though by Day 2 of ‘Project Palate’, I definitely needed a drink.
Parenting experts will tell you that a child who is hungry will eat. I am not a parenting expert but I would add one thing to that edict: ‘depending on the child’. Nikki said no to turkey noodle soup, no to scrambled eggs and no to all but one chicken finger. It was no, no, no to everything. But it wasn’t a pleasant ‘No thank you, mommy’. It was a hunger induced no. It was an ‘I’m going to beat you at your own game’ no. And you want to know something? She did (beat me at my own game).
How, you ask? Well, parenting experts will also tell you not to use dessert as a bribe. I used it. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have. I know that I was just setting myself and her up for further eating problems down the road but with no strawberries in sight, I needed this child to eat something and ice cream for lunch seemed perfectly logical and acceptable by that point. Can I say again that I will never start a new rule while on vacation, ever again?
On the afternoon of day 2, as we made our way back to the resort from a hike where my dearest one had pitched a hunger fit mid-trail, I spotted the tiny general store and screeched in to the parking lot. Leaving the kid that I was quite done dealing with and her Grandma in the car, I went in search of something quasi-fresh to eat. As I stood on the threshold of the dimly lit store that smelled strongly of old cigarette smoke and dust, I scanned the goods on offer. Nothing fresh. Cans, bottles, bags, cartons… but nothing in its natural state. Fine, I thought: canned fruit was better than nothing.
“Do you have any canned pineapple?”
The man behind the counter who had apparently never met a hair brush he liked peered at me over the rims of his reading glasses, putting down the crossword puzzle book he had been working on when I burst in. “Probably.” Then he shrugged and sat back down.
‘Probably’? Really? He was going to stand in the way of manic woman and some pineapple with a non-committal ‘probably’? I decided to investigate the depths of the dark aisles on my own. Canned juice was with the Spam. Soup was with the marshmallow fluff. The only neat and tidy area of the store was the racks and racks of potato chips. Everything else was a mish mash of cans and packages. I did two rounds of the store, looking high and low amongst the boxes of pasta and packages of crackers for canned fruit of any kind. I guess the crazy haired man behind the counter finally took pity on me because he decided to emerge from behind his safe zone counter area and take a third tour with me.
“We got lots of corned beef and beans” he said to me, as if this was a suitable replacement for fruit. “And piri piri sauce, if that’s what floats your boat.” (If you ever wanted to ask yourself if people still say things like ‘float your boat’, I’m here to tell you that they do. Also? Piri piri sauce? They had that… But no fruit?)
“No, I really need fruit. And bagels, if you have any.”
“Nope, no bagels. Got bread for toasting: Texas toast.”
He pointed at the margarine tubs in the fridge behind me. I shook my head and moved on, still on the ‘fruitless’ search for something that was once fresh.
“AHA!” my search companion exclaimed. I followed to where his finger was pointing, above my head, and found … canned pineapple! Eureka and we are saved! I bought two cans, some bread and the marg.
Five minutes later and back in our cottage, I opened the first can and damn it all if Nikki didn’t inhale the ENTIRE contents in a few minutes. We sat out on the deck chairs and breathed a collective sigh of relief: food eaten and lessons learned.