Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A trip to the park and lunchtime texture issues

The girls and I just returned from a picnic at the park. I'm still a bit in the nesting stage of the family move, so it takes an intentional effort to get out of the house. I may find peace in organizing and pitching some of the undesirable stuff (I can't believe we moved some of this crap), but I look over at my girls and see their listlessness (even if they are doing good developmental activities) and know that a trip outside for play would be the best thing for all of us.

We are blessed to have a decent park about 1/4 mile away. It's not the best jungle gym, but it has a nice track, nice fields, and lots of places for the girls to roam while I can still see them from some bird's-eye views. The 6-year old moves along in her scooter while the 2-year old lounges in the baby jogger on the way. We swung by the post office to pick up the cheapest Seattle Times in town ($0.50), and we headed to park.

I packed a simple lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, Toasted Corn Doritos, bananas, and water. To even carry a banana on my person is a step forward. I have traumatic memories of bananas as a child. I recall biting into one an responding with a Technicolor yawn. Now the even the smell makes me despondent. Our oldest didn't eat many bananas growing up, mostly because I wouldn't buy them, let alone prepare them for her. But child #2 is a really picky eater, and would live off of chips, French fries, chocolate and milk if we let her. She won't touch a vegetable. She doesn't even eat grapes. A few months ago we discovered she likes bananas, and I learned I had to hold my nose and make a sacrifice if this child was to take in any nutrients at all outside of a multi-vitamin. Today's banana was over-ripe and smelly. I can still smell it, even though I have washed my hands 4 times since the picnic.

I have texture issues. Not only with bananas, but with any cooked vegetable--peas, carrots, zucchini or any other squash. The less cooked, the better. Overcooked is the trigger. It took me years before I could eat potatoes, and I still have a hard time with the sweet potato/yam cousins, unless my dear wife makes them a little crispy, like oven fries. I don't know from where this texture/sensory aversion comes--but all I know is that overripe banana for lunch sent a chill up my spine, sending a warning signal to my gag reflex.

The champion enemy to my texture gag reflex hasn't surfaced in almost 30 years. For some reason I had two elementary school teachers with unnatural relationships with paper mache. It seemed like any project we had involved paper mache. Art projects, science projects, geography projects, all seemed to involve paper mache with these education professionals. For me, these projects may as well have been made with a large vat of vomit. Sometimes I would leave the room, as my gag reflex would go wild, and one art project, smelling the chunky, thin oatmeal-like substance, with my classmates dipping their entire arms holding strips of newspaper, and pouring cups of the substance over the drying formation to solidify the structure sent me over the edge.

Paper mache and bananas turn me into Wendell Borton from the Simpsons. The only factor in my survival with these bananas is love for my children. I honestly find it easier to clean up poop. Maybe it's because people eat bananas and enjoy working with paper mache. Poop is always disgusting. But, I suppose you get used to it and can work beyond it to do what needs to be done.

My mother-in-law says that a seasoned nurse becomes so accustomed to changing bed pans that they can change a bed pan with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other. The memory of the latrine dive in Slumdog Millionaire also serves as a reminder that certain loathings can be overcome to achieve a goal. My daughters need their nutrition--and neither of them will need a banana for several hours.

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