Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mmmm, Broccoli!

I do believe I heard words that I thought I would never hear tonight.

We often have dinner at my inlaws' with my husband's grandmother, who is 90. Their fabulous very part time housekeeper, who raised my husband from age 1 (we can talk about the WOHM/SAHM debate some other time), always makes the same dinner. Grandma H has a limited diet so we eat the same thing every time. Meat. Starch. Veg.

Every week, we have meatloaf. Sometimes it is with carrot/potato puree--don't worry, it's instant mashed potatoes. And always we have broccoli. And sliced tomatoes. For dessert, raspberry sorbet.

In the beginning, my son had to be literally forced to eat the food. Pushing and prodding got a few bites of puree with a dot or two of meat. Then he started to like it when it was fed to him. Now, at three, he is WOLFING it down.

Tonight, after a whole helping of dinner, my son pushed himself up against the table and said,

"More broccoli, please."

I think that nothing pleases me more. I was not raised to have a healthy attitude toward food, and it overjoys me that I have a kid who likes fruit and vegetables. And he said please! I don't know where to begin being happy. This is why we call him the NachesMachine.

It does strike me, though, that my child watches everything I do. He sees things that I am painfully aware of, all of my shortcomings. He sees stuff that I'm quite proud of and things that I know are flaws but that I somehow have also convinced myself are endearing. And he sees things that I never even noticed about myself...copying all of it in his own unique way. Copying is the highest form of flattery, I know, but I just had no idea that in reality, this is how our kids learn to manage the world, and negotiate the thorniest of watching us and then copying our responses. Of course, I knew, but I didn't really know. By now, though, I've learned, because the snotty way that he says "What, Ima?" when he is caught doing something that he shouldn't be doing, or he doesn't want to comply with whatever the demand du jour is the way I respond when I'm in the same situation. I guess I better watch my mouth.

But more broccoli, please? On so many levels, it was so cute and so polite and so nice to hear. I guess sometimes this careful parenting actually works. Afterward, the politeness was followed by a bowl of raspberry sorbet. And then I gave in on a request for a second scoop, because he did eat a huge helping of broccoli, after all.

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