It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Election Day, the Sign Mans, and my Dessert

It’s Election Day here in Canada, and for the first time in years, I went to cast my ballot without my little parade of toddlers. Generally I hit the polling station in the morning, in part to avoid any congestion that may occur in the busier after-work hours, but mostly because I like the idea of taking the tots along, exposing them to this aspect of being a grown-up. It’s the teacher in me, don’t you know.

Today I didn’t. Today I went after work hours, so that I could be chauffeured to and from – taking the car, when the polling station is six blocks from my home! I’m mortified. What kind of a fat-ass wuss am I morphing into?? I’m also incapable of walking six blocks, so I can swallow my moral outrage at using a car for a six-block outing. It’s embarrassing, true; it’s also merely necessary.

A canvasser for one of the parties came to the door earlier today, “getting the vote out”. I assured her of my intention to go to the polls this evening, and she gave me a little bookmark with the candidate’s picture and the address of our polling station. Just so’s I’d know who to vote for and how to get there. Six blocks from my home.

The tots were interested.

“Dat’s the man on the signs on the lawns!” Darcy exclaimed. “Why did the lady give you the sign man’s picture?”

I explained that today all the grown-ups would be deciding who got to be the boss of the country. This was one of the men who wanted to help. He didn’t want to be the boss, but he wanted to be one of the boss’s helpers. I’m talking to three-year-olds: it pays to keep it simple.

“Don’t we have a boss already?” George asks. It would be clever George who thinks of this.

“Well, yes, we do.” (I will suffer no snide remarks about Mr. Martin’s efficacy or lack thereof in the position; fact is, at least technically, he is the boss.) “We do, but now it’s time for someone else to get a chance. Even the boss of the country has to take turns.”

This they understand, and it’s on to more pressing matters, like can Zach eat the Smartie that rolled under the potty and looks just the teeniest bit damp. They took a vote, and Zach ate the Smartie.

A few years back, less experienced and more eager to enrich, I attempted a more detailed explanation.

“Say that your mummy said you could have either a brownie or some ice cream for dessert, but you all had to have the same thing.” I explained to little Kaleb, then four years old. “So everyone in the family would get to say what they wanted. That’s voting. Each person would be voting for the dessert they want. Whichever dessert had more people wanting it, that’s what everyone would eat.”

He seemed to grasp this, and then I very skilfully made the connection between voting for something like dessert and voting for leadership of the country. We all troop into the polling station, I take my ballot, mark it, drop it in the box, then back out into the sunshine we go. (Because generally we are sensible in this country and do NOT hold elections in the WINTER!)

“Did we voted?” Kaleb asks.

“Yes, we did.”

He scrutinizes my face carefully, puzzlement all over his. “So, when do we get the dessert?”

So this evening I went and cast my ballot. In another hour I’ll turn on the television and start watching the returns. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the dessert I wanted.

January 23, 2006 Posted by | Canada, commemoration, George, the things they say!, Zach | 11 Comments

Eating Green, the Devious Way

Very few parents of toddlers manage to avoid the struggle over Green Things. Food fads are very common and idiosyncratic at this age, but the suspicion of vegetables is almost universal.

What’s a parent to do?

There are a number of ways to get vegetables into your children. We can classify these into two approaches: the Devious, and the Direct. This post deals with the Devious.

Under the Devious, first and foremost: GOOD MODELLING.

1. Good Modelling. This one is of critical importance. You will be far less likely to get your tot to eat healthful meals if you don’t. So, suck it up and eat your beans! For the sake of your child’s long-term good health, you can make this change in your patterns. And hey, it’ll be good for you, too!

I know a mother who hates vegetables, and who, quite literally, never eats them. Her two daughters – surprise! – never do, either. I am appalled, and predict a life of constipation followed by colon cancer for the entire lot of them.

2. When the kids cluster round your feet as you prepare dinner, claiming to be STARRRRVING!, give them vegetables. Take the cooked sprig of cauliflower from the pot, run it under cold water to cool it, and hand it to your child. So what if that means they’ve eaten all their cauliflower before dinner starts? They’ve eaten all their cauliflower!!

3. Vary the presentation. Make cucumber flowers by dragging a fork down the outside to make grooves, then slicing it. Put peanut butter or cheese in the celery. Make roses from the radishes, little people from mushrooms. Be imaginative.

4. Dip them. Some kids would eat styrofoam if they could dip it. Besides the traditional sour cream option, there’s ranch dressing, plain yoghurt, or melted cheese.

5. Frozen veggies. Many toddlers LOVE frozen peas, corn niblets, and tiny cubes of frozen carrots. I often give them out for snacks.

6. Hide them. I’ve been known to put smooshed peas or flattened cauliflower UNDER the cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. Really.

7. Camouflage them. Pureed, vegetables can go a lot of places: in the lasagna, in the mac and cheese, in soups. I routinely use pureed squash to thicken and sweeten soups and stews. Pureed squash makes chicken noodle soup taste really good to most kids. Just don’t tell them it’s in there…

(Word to the wise from one who knows: don’t use spinach for this. It turns the broth an unbelievable emerald green, that simply can’t be explained away.)

Those are all options in the Devious category, ways to sneak vegetables into your child without the direct confrontation. But wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to set a meal in front of your child, and have it get eaten without fuss? I bet you get tired of this song-and-dance routine some days, jumping through hoops provided by someone who only reaches mid-thigh! Don’t you look forward to the day when a piece of broccoli is just another item on the plate, not an invitation to bedlam and domestic upheaval?

It can happen! It won’t happen by Devious means, however. To achieve that goal, my friends, you will have to employ the Direct Method.

Next installment (when I finish writing it): The Direct Method.

© 2006, Mary P

January 23, 2006 Posted by | food, parenting, power struggle | 24 Comments