Friday, March 05, 2010

The sound of the vacuum cleaner....

Another post on family life by Patsy

There is something slightly comforting about the sound of the vacuum cleaner running. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s constant humming drowns out the sounds of the ringing telephone, the way too loud Sponge Bob episode on TV, or the screams from children fighting over the same toy. Anyway, I find it somehow soothing. It can be pleasant to lose yourself in the relative peace of the soft pings and tinks as the vacuum picks up the occasional stray object. One can revel in the knowledge that not only are you grabbing a few quiet moments, but you are also keeping your home “Good Housekeeping” clean. I never mind vacuuming….at least I didn’t…until we became dogless.
I sense confusion, dear reader. Can it be that you do not comprehend the connection between the family dog and the peace of the gentle vacuum sounds? Allow me to enlighten you. You see, while we had a dog, I could vacuum the entire house listening to the gentle sounds of the carpets being cleaned. However, the first time I vacuumed under our dining room table after our dog was gone, I was forced to face a very grim reality. The soft pings and tinks of the vacuum doing it’s job suddenly became loud and continuous thunks and rattles. There was debris in mass quantity under my table! In short, there was enough food under there to feed a third world country! While our dog Tucker was alive, I was happy living in total denial believing that my children were at least eating some of the healthy foods that were placed before them. Now, I was being forced to look at my sons in a very different light. Those little stinkers had been passing their unwanted food to the dog for years!
Believe me, I have been the recipient of whinning and complaining comments about my food for years. I am under no delusion as to my children’s abhorance of healthy green vegetables and low fat meats. I am also completely comfortable in my ability to cook good tasting food. My skills are not in question. It is their taste buds that are to blame. No, it is not the shock of finding they had not wanted their food that caught me by surprise. It was the knowledge that they had somehow gotten the food from their plates to the floor without being caught that really caused me some trepidation. Were my children really this good at deception? I didn’t know whether to applaud their slight of hand, or discipline their unethical disposal of perfectly good food.
I am no stranger to the picky-eater. I had a very good friend whose son would only eat yogurt and cheese sticks. He might occasionally eat a few potato chips dipped in ketchup, but that was it. And definitely no peanut butter! I once tricked him into tasting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by telling him it was a PBJ. He took a bite, swallowed and said, “Not too bad”. That was until his older brother explained to him that PBJ stood for peanut butter and jelly. He proceeded to throw up. That was the day I learned a very valuable lesson…..always work alone. Of course the whole situation was a little more comical because the boy’s mother was a nutritionalist.
At that time, my first son was just a toddler and I had no real idea of the problems that awaited me. He became a picky-eater the day he started to actually chew food. OK, that does sound a little strange, but he really wouldn’t eat anything that took too long to chew. That pretty much narrowed down the meat choices for him. Hotdogs were OK, hamburger was not. In fact, we have been known to ask for a cheeseburger without the meat at fast food restaurants. (It’s funny…they never believe you the first time you ask for that, and they always give you a slight smile as they repeat your order back.) Of course, as he grew, he learned to eat a wider variety of meats. He now eats cheeseburgers with the meat, but not much else.
One of my adopted sons had a hard time eating any vegetable and could not stand the idea of someone else holding a spoon anywhere near his mouth. The first night we put our “foot down” and actually required him to eat his vegetables is now known in our family as the “green bean incident of 2007”. He was amazing in his perserverance. The child actually held one green bean in his mouth for 45 minutes without chewing or swallowing. I’m not really sure if we can completely claim victory in the green bean showdown, because he never actually “ate” the thing. He just held it in his mouth until a little trickle of green drool started running down the side of his mouth. Finally, I think it just mixed with his saliva and he swallowed it accidentally. It’s a sweet little family memory that we will always cherish.
I have a son that will eat mostly meat, but not much dairy; a son that will eat all dairy and bread, but not much meat; sons that eat a huge breakfast of any kind, but not much supper; and one who can’t seem to find a food he doesn’t like. As long as it is well known that I am not a short-order cook, and everyone must eat their vegetables, I can live happily in total oblivion. But now, I have come to the realization that my “happy place” of ignorance is being threatened. I can see that I have only two options open to me…either get another dog, or stop vacuuming under the dining room table. I wonder how long it takes for food to bi-degrade on it’s own……

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