Oatmeal and orange juice, however, are on my son’s no-eat list, which also includes most vegetables. His aversion to vegetables is one of family legend: Once, when we were driving from Michigan to Folly Beach, S.C., for a vacation (ahh, the days of being employed!), we stopped at a chain steakhouse for dinner. Will, who was 4 at the time, seemed interested in the huge, baked sweet potato the chain serves.
“Would you like to taste it,” I asked him. So excited was I that he seemingly wanted to taste the sweet potato that I touched a tiny schmear of it to his lip.
Immediately, his eyes bugged and he made a choking noise. I knew what was coming, and before I could grab up all the napkins, he vomited all over the table.
He did the same when he tasted a cooked carrot under his own volition, and when he found a bit of onion in my spaghetti sauce, only these times he spewed at our dining room table.
So, I don’t push him. He can cook some basic stuff, and I make sure we have good, healthy food on hand. If he doesn’t like what we’re eating, he makes his own.
And so it was on those mornings when my husband treated me to the best oatmeal ever, that my son instead made himself scrambled eggs, just the way he likes them: runny. This kid, whose system is so offended by vegetables that he vomits if they make contact with his body, loves scrambled eggs, apparently the snottier the better.
“This has been the greatest vacation ever,” he told me while noisily slurping his scrambled eggs last week. “Just the best.”
“Really?” I said. “But I’ve been so sick.”
“Well, not because of that,” Will said. “It’s been having scrambled eggs every morning. It’s just like you always say, about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. I eat those eggs and I felt GREAT!”
So, maybe there’s some magic in slimy scrambled eggs, I thought.
“And I love egg nog, too,” Will said.
Egg nog is one of my husband’s guilty holiday pleasures. There’s a brand of custard-style egg nog — thick and sweet — that he loves. Made by a local dairy, it’s available for about a week or so, and he felt it a holiday miracle that he found two quarts this year that he doled out slowly.
So, Will now loves egg nog. Given that he loves runny scrambled eggs, too, it makes all the sense in the world.
“What’s in egg nog,” he asked while sipping a bit of it one night. “I know there’s eggs, but what’s nog? I don’t get what nog is.”
It was at this moment that I knew I was beginning to feel better.
“You don’t know what nog is?” I asked in such a way as to imply that nog was something icky, but with enough mom in my voice to have plausible deniability that I was having fun at my kid’s expense.
Will shook his head.
“I’ll tell you if you really want to know,” I said, my tone implying that perhaps ignorance might be bliss on the nog front.
“Is it disgusting?” Will was getting nervous. I could sense a slight bulging in the eyes. “It’s disgusting, isn’t it?”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“I don’t want to know,” Will said. “I don’t want to spoil egg nog for me.”
“Are you sure,” I asked. “I’ll tell you.”
Will waved his hands.
“Please, please, promise me you won’t tell me what nog is,” he cried dramatically. “Please. PROMISE!”
I did. But then, as he procrastinated taking a shower the night before his first day back to school, I realized I had a new weapon in my artillery.
“If you don’t get in the shower right now, I’ll tell you what nog is,” I threatened.
“No, no,” Will cried. “Don’t tell me.”
“Then you better get in the shower,” I said. Before the words were out of my mouth he had disappeared and I could hear the shower running in the bathroom.
I am ashamed to admit that I’ve enjoyed having the weirdly powerful weapon of the “nog” at my disposal. It’s proved most useful this holiday season. But all good things come to an end.
“I don’t think nog is anything bad,” Will said before he left for school this morning.
“I never said it was,” I said. “I’ll tell you what it is if you want to know.”
Will thought it over for a moment.
“Nah. Don’t tell me,” he said. “I really don’t want to know. Besides, how disgusting can it be if you and daddy drink it too?”
Just as I sensed my nog power being snatched away, I pulled it straight back into my corner.
“We eat sweet potatoes and carrots and other vegetables, too,” I said, leaving him with some food for thought.