1968. East Nowra, NSW. I’m finished I call, somewhat excitedly.
Mum comes over to do an inspection. She seems suspicious, but doesn’t say anything.
Okay, you can go now. I jump up and run outside to play.
Scene repeats on a daily basis for a number of years.
1973. Murwillumbah, NSW. I am aghast. I cannot believe she would do this me.
I am betrayed.
1976. North Nowra, NSW. I am not allowed to move. I must stay here till they’re all gone. Dad makes that quite clear.
I will not give in.
I am not wilful.
I am not stubborn.
I am … intractable.
Fourteen year old me learnt that word the hard way.
I will not eat them.
Peas placed carefully under my knife so mum won’t see them, despite her suspicions.
I get away with that for years. Or so I think.
In 1973 a concern is shared. It appears the middle one, the troublesome one, the intractable one, will die a lingering death (along with millions of starving African children) if she doesn’t eat her vegetables.
Nan-in-Murwillumbah has a solution.
Vegetables in the bowl; custard on top. Sharon won’t even realise!
Sharon did realise. And didn’t eat custard for years.
In 1976 a new rule is instituted: no-one leaves the table till Sharon finishes all her dinner.
All means vegetables.
I learnt the strength of my resolve at that moment. I learnt that I am patient. I learnt that I have a core of steel.
I learnt the word intractable.
I learnt that while cauliflower and cheese sauce is one of the foods the devil serves in hell, it tastes marginally better hot than when it’s been sitting on your plate for four hours.
2003. Launceston, Tas. An envelope with Dad’s handwriting.
I’m strangely touched that he remembered.
4 thoughts on “Lesson #2”
I think the reality is regardless of what is served to the children at the dinner table each night you were ALL there ‘thinking, conjuring ideas to avoid your distaste while your parents, I presume, were humorously trying to get their child to eat her vegies ! Another valid message I took from this post is currently we have a large population of our younger children who do not have the opportunity to ‘sit’ at a dinner table each night with family and there is lots to be said about a family dinner time conversations!
On Wednesday morning I read this with complete understanding, until I got to the last section. With boys aged 3 and 5, I sat in despair at the thought it could be another ten years before we would finish a meal without arguments at the dinner table.
It may be funny to sit and read, but it is the reality for many parents each night at the dinner table with strong willed or fussy children.
It’s an interesting plight Karena and one I came up against when I was the mother of a fussy/determined two-three-four year old. She wouldn’t eat anything that looked vaguely like a vegetable … in fact I’m sure that as a 7 year old she survived off Milo and meat pies … but I knew that forcing didn’t ever help me (it just made me more determined and resentful) so while I encouraged I didn’t ever force. As a mother I went for peace over peas. A cop out possibly, but it never seemed to be worth the fight.
Oh Sharon! This is funny… keep writing! Your audience is growing! Glynis