Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chicken, the other vegetable

Last night we had stir-fry for dinner, in order to use up some of the vegetables in our fridge before they went bad. There was chicken, broccoli, and zucchini (and onion and garlic, of course).
Within one minute after the end of the blessing, all 3 of the big boys had left the table. "I'm not hungry, blah blah." The boys hate stir-fry. We reminded them of The Rule, but they declined anyway.

The Rule is this. If you don't eat dinner, you don't get cookies. If you eat some of your dinner (the term "some" is loosely defined), then you get one cookie. If you eat all of your dinner, you get two cookies.

Two cookies is the pinnacle of joy for the boys. It is what they strive and beg for. And yet, as a reward whose requirements are known,it is rarely attained. Stephen is by far the greatest achiever here. He will regularly clear off whatever is on his plate once he is reminded of The Rule. Timothy is only up to the challenge when mac & cheese is served. Jonah rarely makes it, even when we serve something he likes. The boy just doesn't eat dinner, but he's old enough that rules have to be enforced.

The Rule does not apply to Sam. Why? Because he's the fourth. We're tired; cut us some slack. Seriously, though, Sam and Jonah are regressive eaters, like their mother. Huge breakfasts (frequently two Pop Tarts each), normal lunches, and tiny dinners. (I, on the other hand, approach all meals equally. They're Pre-Mil; I'm Amil.) And yet, The Rule doesn't apply to Sam, because he just doesn't get it yet. Telling him "no cookies" makes absolutely no difference. It's like grounding a 1 year old or taking away phone privileges for a toddler. Like they care.

So anyway, the big 3 are gone, my wife and I are happily eating our dinner, when in comes Jonah. He's back for a second chance. He picks out a couple of pieces of chicken, eats one, then leaves. I figure the game is up.

Later on, I'm making cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip, by the way, mmmm) and I hear my wife and Jonah talking. Apparently he's eating all of his chicken now. He finishes, and my wife goes and gets him a cookie (just one, as per The Rule).

He gets his one cookie, and it begins, "One cookie?!? I wanted two cookies!"

My wife calmly explains, "Jonah, I said that you could have one cookie if you at all your chicken."

"But I get two cookies!"

My turn, "Jonah, did you eat your vegetables?"

"Yes," he says. I look to my wife, who shakes her head. Gotcha.

I ask, "Jonah, did you eat your broccoli?"


"Did you eat your zucchini?"


"Then you didn't eat your vegetables," I say reasonably. I figure I've caught him in a lie, but I'm on the woefully wrong path.

"Yes I did! I ate my chicken!"

"Huh?" Now I'm catching up. We've entered Jonahland.

Fists clenched by his sides, standing in the middle of the kitchen, he yells out, "Chicken is a vegetable!"

Oh crap. "No Jonah," I say as calmly as I can. My wife has run into another room, suppressing laughter. "Chicken is meat, not a vegetable."

Louder, with even more clinching, "CHICKEN IS NOT MEAT!"

"Don't yell at daddy," I say, and almost say not to argue with daddy about the nature of being. But that's too weird. I have no idea what to do.

Mommy rescues us. "Jonah, do you want to give me back your one cookie?"

It works. Back from Jonahland, he says "No," and walks off.

My wife looks at me, "That goes in the blog." And so it does.


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