“Hummus isn’t a food.”
I looked at Charlie. “What do you mean?” Eli was happily scarfing his hummus off the end of a carrot. “Of course it’s a food.”
“No it isn’t,” he said making horrified faces at his brother. “Hummus isn’t a food, it’s a sound.”
“It’s the sound your stomach makes when it’s upset.” He emphasized his point by making a sick face, hugging his stomach then pretending to ride out a stomach spasm while muttering the word “hummus.”
He laughed at my apparent displeasure. “Or maybe it’s the sound you make when you burp.” He was on a roll. “HUMMUS,” he belched loudly then waived his hand in front of his face to emphasize the smelliness of he pretend hummus burp.
Meal time is always exciting at our house. Getting the boys to eat healthy foods, actually any foods can be a challenge. My boys are weird. What they like and don’t like doesn’t make sense . . . and it changes. Charlie liked hummus when he was a toddler. Not so much now.
“Well, your bother likes it,” I said. I knew this was a very weak point.
Charlie took a bite of chicken nugget. “He eats boogers and gummies he finds in the couch.” Charlie smiled at me. “So I am not eating hummus because he likes it.”
“I cleaned the gummies out of the couch,” I said, hoping this brief deviation from the point might give me a minute to regroup. I breathed deeply. “You ate hummus when you were little.”
“I probably liked boogers and fuzzy gummy bears back then, too.”
“It is very good for you,” I said. I knew it was weak as soon as I said it.
Charlie looked at me with something akin to sympathy. He deserved a better argument than this. He graciously gave me a few seconds to gather my thoughts by asking me what was in hummus.
“It has ground chickpeas and . . .”
“Mmmm. Chickpeas . . . “
“OK, you don’t have to eat it.” I gave up. “Just eat some carrots and celery.”
“OK,” he nodded. “I like carrots.”
I had to smile. There was a large pile of carrots next to his nuggets. Most kids would want fries with their nuggets. Not Charlie . . . he doesn’t like french fries. I’ll wait here while you reread that. He doesn’t like fries. I wondered if he could turn french fries into a body sound.
At the table, Eli had a carrot in one hand and a french fry in the other. He dipped both into the hummus. He sucked the hummus off the carrot and stuffed the hummus fry into his mouth.
I stopped trying to figure out why my boys likes and dislikes as far as food goes. I stopped when I realized my sanity was slowly slipping away. Some powers in the universe aren’t meant to be understood. Kids eating habits are like the meaning of life and why one sock disappears in the dryer, it’s meant to be accepted not understood.
Every meal is a discussion at our house. I recently made the mistake of putting cheese on Charlie’s hamburger. He doesn’t like cheese on burgers. He is a tad weird. He doesn’t really like hot dogs on his hot dogs. He loves the fluffy white buns and has to be coaxed to eat the hot dog. But he loves raw vegetables . . . He loves his naked burger and carrots. Go figure.
I will readily admit that my issue with finicky eating is totally a me problem. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine telling my parents I didn’t like something. If I hinted that I didn’t like something when I was a kid my father took it as a direct reflexion on his ability to provide for us. I don’t put that kind of pressure on the boys, I just don’t see a pattern to what they like and don’t like.
Charlie liked hummus as a toddler. Then one day it became gross. The same thing with grits. One day he was elbow deep in my grits and then on day he hated them. I was the opposite of Charlie with grits. I hated them as a kid. That’s because plain grits taste like a mouthful of boredom. Once we started eating them more, I learned to appreciate them more. A little butter and salt, may an over-easy egg mashed up in there . . . . mmmmm. It wasn’t until I met my wife and her baked grit casserole did my grit conversion become complete.
Eli is even weirder than Charlie when it comes to food. He is a 40-year-old palette trapped in a 3-year-old body. He likes stuffed olives, hummus of course, parmesan cheese and other adult tastes. I occasioinally get lox and cream cheese with capers, onions and tomato from a local bagel shop. I was eating one at the table one morning when he walked up and took it out of my hand. He sat on the floor and ate it lox, capers and all. Then he begged me for the other half. When we drive by the bagel shop he points and yells “fish sammitch!”
My grandmother used to say something about how the food you get inside your child is more important than the food that stays outside your child. There are limits to that sage advice of course, but I take it to mean that if my boys are eating decent food in sufficient quantities then I probably shouldn’t over think it. OK, so it’s a loose interpretation.
The boys were excused after lunch was finished. I cleared the table. The plates were clean. The nuggets, carrots, hummus and fries were gone. The nuggets and fries were baked so there were no grease stains on the table or in my childrens stomachs. Charlie seemed happy. I watched him playing. I wondered if I could google a recipe with hummus and grits for dinner.
Thanks for reading. I will see you soon on This Side of the Diaper.