and then there were two. they were dropping like flies, i tell you. hopping up and down in the chair. hyperventilating. wailing. with tears, even. and then there it came, right back up and into the adorable vintage pyrex dish with tiny flowers on the side.
and then there was one. the youngest, well, he just can’t keep his seat in the chair. i have considered duct tape. that would be too sticky, possibly ruin his cute little hipster toddler clothes. what about a belt? that seems too cruel, maybe because i was spanked with a belt when i was small. so my associations with a belt are not all that kind.
so the one left, he sat, stoic, focusing on his breath, trying to be brave, trying to eat enough to earn the dessert i had dangled in front of them all, the incentive i had just read about in a magazine--that one healthy eating habit families can instate is that of sharing dessert together after a meal.
well of course! maybe there was so much gnashing of teeth at dinnertime because i wasn’t allowing them to revel in that cold sweetness of ice cream, or the hot, oozy mess of freshly baked brownies, or the crunchy yet salty morsel of a cookie.
so i thought, i can do this. i can serve dessert after dinner. but i cannot, under any circumstances, dole out dessert to little children who refuse to eat dinner. because that just wouldn’t be right.
so i served chicken pot pie.
and the earth stood still. bells tolled the end of time. birds dropped dead from the sky. a fleet of jets flew overhead, rumbling the house. or maybe that was an earthquake. the rivers ran with blood, and frogs rained down from the sky.
in the end, the one who threw up into her bowl asked for another helping so that she could earn that ice cream. to spite her brothers, i heaped not one but two scoops of ice cream into the bowl, carried just past their little noses on the way to her.
my little stubborn girl. my little girl who loves sushi and roast beef but refuses to eat cheese (“only cold! i don’t like melted cheese!”) and pork (“i like only bacon! not pork!”). i can count on you to shove down that awful chicken pot pie to earn some dessert.
no matter that i bribed you.
what’s for dinner, you ask? tonight, honey, we are having a bowl of cereal.