The Way I Thought That Things Would Be: Serving Salad

Veggies. When I was a kid, I avoided them as much as I possibly could. Ask my parents, they'll confirm my claim. Sometimes I would go to great lengths to clear the vegetables off my plate without actually eating them.

Between my preschool and kindergarten years, my family moved into an old farmhouse. It was one of the first homes to be built in that neighborhood. My parents loved old houses like that. This one had large picture windows facing the street and a deep dark basement that haunts the nightmares of many horror stories. In the dungeon like depths that descended from the kitchen down narrow and steep stairs was a gigantic old-school furnace. (I was younger and smaller then, so it's actual size is probably exaggerated and distorted due to my shrunken perspective.) This furnace was the lone source of heat for the whole house.

Inside that furnace's belly burned a fire that funneled hot air through a single ventilation duct up into the first and second floors. Separate arms branched off to provide warmth to other rooms, but there was one heating vent in the middle of the great room connected directly to the main shaft. We had that room bisected into two sections, one that was the living room and the other half was the dining room. We rarely at dinner at the dining room table. Our family was a sports family so if there was a game on TV, we'd be watching it. My folks and my older brother would be on the couch while they ate, but I retreated to the floor next to that vent.

I could still see the TV from that vantage point, but I didn't share the same interest in watching baseball or football like my older brother. I liked sitting on the floor while I ate. In fact, I still do. But the joy of the floor or the dissociation from the chosen mode of family entertainment were secondary to my true motivation for sitting next to the heater.

I knew that on the other side of the wall in that very location was a vent that fell strait down to the fires inside the furnace. While my parents focused on their own food and the athletic action on the television, I'd be sending vegetables plunging into the abyss, piece by piece, through the small gap between the vent's metal guard and the hardwood floor. The uneaten scraps from my meal would be incinerated and no trace of my deeds remained to be found or smelled.

It must have been a texture issue. The scent, taste, textures; I found it all revolting. The fact that the food I was wasting was healthy was irrelevant. I could not force myself to swallow. The flavor made me gag. Now that I have a son on the autism spectrum I'm starting to recognize some of those same symptoms. His texture issues surround anything with a saucy texture. Spaghetti sauce, alfredo, ketchup, salsa. He also struggles with most meats. He likes bacon, chicken, and shrimp. But steak, ham, and pork set off his texture aversion. Ditto for anything ground up. That makes meal planning difficult in our home.

But there is one food that I don't have to worry about serving.


There are two things in that picture that the younger veggie burning version of myself would have never allowed to contact my taste buds: cucumbers and spinach. I'll eat it now, but my kids will devour it. All three of them will munch on carrots as a snack without question. Christian will eat lettuce and spinach like some kids eat potato chips. Zu will eat an entire cucumber on her own if you let her. They're like that with fruit too. The three of them demolished a pound of strawberries in one afternoon - on their own. JJ once ate four bananas in one sitting. Zu eats tomatoes like they're apples. And they all have an apple addiction. Rare is the edible plant that we cannot convince one of them to eat. Even lemons.

I never imagined this would happen. I would have never predicted raising children who love vegetables more than me. How did that veggie hating kid turn into a functioning adult that enjoys stuff like asparagus and bell peppers? How did I end up with bacon loving semi-vegetarians?

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