Buttering Up Nonna–Outsmarting My Grandkids At Picky Eating

Never in my six-and-a-half decades of living have I been accused of being overly logical. True story, I once spent $17.50 on gas so I could “save money” by going to a dollar movie theater seventy miles away.

So, it’s not altogether shocking that my descendants inherited the illogic gene, but my four- and five-year-old granddaughters have taken illogical thinking to impressive (i.e., maddening) new heights. I thought I had scaled those heights when they visited two months ago, at which time I learned that while corn on the cob and corn freshly cut from the cob appear closely related, they are completely different animals, so to speak. Whereas Silver Queen kernels still on the cob are greeted with squeals of delight by my grands, once those very same kernels are cut from the cob to facilitate more complete preschooler consumption, they are transformed into rancid particles of toxicity from which anyone at the table wearing size 4-5T clothing must recoil in shrieking horror.

Armed with this knowledge, I considered myself well prepared for their next visit. Alas, I found out there is more to the produce game than keeping the corn on the cob. In fact, when it comes to broccoli, the exact opposite is true. Unlike COTC, broccoli actually requires detaching, as in the florets from the stalks. My daughter had forewarned me the florets needed to be detached with surgical precision, so I had my scalpel at the ready. She assured me if I did this and then poured some melted butter on the steamed florets, the girls would eat up the broccoli with gusto.

That’s not exactly what happened. My first clue that something had gone terribly awry was when the girls began wailing as I set their dinner dishes in front of them.

Nonna, eww, we can see the butter on the broccoli!” they cried in unified disgust.

“And, so?” I asked, confused.

“And so, we can’t eat it when we can see the butter!” they replied, outlining a condition I’d not been aware of before. Although my daughter had instructed me to pour melted butter on the broccoli, she had neglected to mention the exact degree of “meltedness” required—which, apparently, is nothing short of complete invisibility. Granddaughter Nora was quick to lay bare how badly my butter had failed to reach this benchmark.

“Look, right there,” she said, pointing accusingly to what I assume, if one had x-ray vision and perhaps several more eyeballs, was evidence of unmelted butter.

I examined the offending spot with both of my lens-corrected, astigmatic eyes. I cocked my head, squinted, backed up, moved in closer, peered through every section of my trifocals, and finally identified the microdot of supposedly unmelted butter, which I believe was actually a dust particle, but I kept that information to myself. Conceding defeat, I ate all the dusty broccoli and left the food critics to their mac and cheese.

The next morning when the girls asked for toast with butter, I had my battle plan. I toasted the bread, buttered it, and then slid both slices back into the toaster for a moment. Voilà, toast with invisible butter, which I set down in front of the girls.

They just sat there, staring at the toast as if trying to decipher a message written in hieroglyphics. “Nonna, where’s the butter?” they asked.

“Ha!” I answered smugly. “I melted it. It’s invisible.”

My smugness was short-lived. To my utter astonishment, the girls rejected the toast out of hand, explaining that unlike butter on broccoli, butter on toast should be visible. “We like to see it on the bread,” they concluded.

I gave up. I was still brushing their buttered toast crumbs off my lips as I ushered the girls into McDonalds for a Happy Meal pancake breakfast. Waiting for our order, I asked myself why I was surprised at the illogical logic of my beloved granddaughters. After all, these were the same children who repeatedly rejected the notion that Snow White was still alive under her glass dome—she can’t breathe in there, Nonna—yet who accepted the existence of talking, rainbow-colored unicorns without question. I may have been the genetic carrier, but these girls had elevated illogical logic to an art form. And, upon reflection, I took a certain kind of pride in their accomplishment.

 Just then Tess interrupted my reverie with, “Nonna, I don’t like this kind of butter in the plastic thingy. I don’t know what to do with it.” I sensed a preschooler existential crisis coming on.

“Oh, just give it to me,” I replied without skipping a beat. “We’ll take it home for the unicorns. They looove butter packets from McDonalds.”

“Really?” she asked, wide-eyed. “Okay,” she said gleefully and handed me the butter. Crisis averted, peace reigned at our corner booth.

I looked at my two sweet girls eating their unbuttered pancakes and thought, “You little ladies are heavy hitters with illogic, but every now and then, old Nonna can still knock one out the park.

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