Monday, July 6, 2009

Vacation from the Vacation

We're back from our whirlwind visit to D.C. along with the niece.

I didn't find a lot of time to write during the first of our two week tour of duty, as I was chief niece-watcher whilst the wife was away at work. Other than the previously mentioned microwaving of a metal bowl, it mostly went okay with only a few clashes of personality here and there which I'm happy to say I won. Most of these clashes came over the subject of food, specifically which ones the niece would agree to eat and in what quantities and over how much sugar she could work into the equation. The culmination of this came when I suggested we have grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for lunch one day, to which she responded that she would indeed enjoy such a sandwich but would not be having any soup. This, to me, smacked of a gauntlet thrown down, so I not only made a can of tasty meatball soup, but I also emptied into it some left over spaghetti sauce I'd made to help stretch it out and add needed vegetables, such as squash and zucchini. I announced that she needed to eat the soup, too, as her aunt would want to be sure I was feeding her healthy things. And because we'd been planning to head to my gym, where there's a pool, I was determined she would eat her soup or there would be no trip--though I didn't immediately clue her in on this threat.

So she picked at the soup for ten minutes as we watched a blisteringly bad rerun of Full House on the Disney channel. (I could have just said "a rerun of Full House" and everyone would have assumed it was blisteringly bad if not worse.) Then she started in on her sandwich, which she eats with syrup. Don't scoff, cause grilled cheese and syrup are actually a pretty good combination and tastes remarkably like French toast. The joke was on her, though, as I'd given her sugar-free syrup.

"You're going to need to eat more soup," I said. This resulted in a less than clean look in my direction, but I remained firm. I also remained in the room, because Sadie was nearby and I was pretty sure if I left the room for even a moment the kid's soup would be gone and the dog would be licking her chops. More bites were slowly taken as yet another horrifyingly bad episode of Full House started. If I was going to torture her with soup, she was clearly going to torture me with Dave Coullier.

"What's this," she said, holding up a spoon in which rested a possibly overcooked lump of vegetable matter.

"Zucchini," I said.

"What's that?"

"It's like squash," I said.

"I don't eat squash."

After nearly 15 more minutes and still very little progress in diminishing the admittedly monster bowl of soup I'd served her, I announced that she would need to eat at least half of her soup or we couldn't leave for the pool.

"But I don't like soup," she said.

"That's unfortunate," I said calmly. "But you're going to need to eat at least half of yours or we won't go to the pool."

More minutes slowly passed and more microscopic bites were taken. She eventually asked to be excused to the bathroom, which I allowed, but stayed behind to guard her dog-eye-level bowl against any hopeful thefts. She eventually returned and acted as though enough time must have passed for me to have forgotten about that whole soup thing or that it was cold enough that I would no longer insist she eat it.

"Eat your soup," I said.

It took her another ten minutes, but she finally choked down enough bites that she was very nearly at the half-way mark so I set her free.

This was to be but the first of many food skirmishes. Fortunately, most of the others happened after the wife was there to help provide added muscle to our nutritional decrees. By our final night of camping near D.C., we even began discussing cooking up some of the enormous quantity of squash we'd brought with us.

"Ohhh, no," Kayley said, holding up her hands in a stop this line of reasoning right now manner. "I don't eat squash!"

I gave her a long slow burn then said, "Child, have you not realized yet that whatever you say you WON'T eat is the very thing we decide you HAVE to eat?"

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