My mom still periodically brings up her memories of me as a picky eater–the skinny, tiny Vietnamese girl who wouldn’t eat much meat or poultry. She remembers being overwhelmed with concern for my health–though I must point out that it really doesn’t take much for my mom to be overwhelmed with concern for her children’s health. Case in point: she nearly flew cross country when I had a case of shingles during college. Another case in point: she nearly flew across the Pacific Ocean when my brother fell from a bike and knocked out two teeth. But I digress. Throughout the years, she has spoken about the parental burden of raising a picky eater, and of course, I usually responded rather dismissively. Now, I finally get it.
It is no secret that Soup-er Boy is not the world’s best eater. For the first two years of his life he wouldn’t touch any starch–no bread, no pasta, no rice. He also didn’t care much for meat, fish or poultry. Heck the boy wouldn’t even eat cake, cookies or ice cream! He subsisted on a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. As he got older, he learned to like the usual kid favorites–pizza, pasta, fish sticks, chicken nuggets. And to my utter delight, he actually likes bulgogi, dumplings and miso soup. Slowly, very slowly and with increasing threats of no dessert, his repertoire is expanding. And yet, he doesn’t eat very much and is ridiculously particular about food: pasta must be served plain with some olive oil and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan (shaky) cheese; fish should only be rectangular and deep fried; and potatoes can only be french fries, etc. ACK! How could I have raised this boy? Oh, I guess he must’ve been raised by the skinny Vietnamese girl who wouldn’t eat. Right. God help me.
And so with a great deal of irony and some small amount of sheepishness, I find myself repeatedly reminding my young son that one day, he will be living away from home and missing that awesome soup that his mother used to make and he refused to eat. And one day further along, he will have a child of his own who will refuse to eat that Vietnamese stuff that he loves so much. Ahh, karma, you just keep on going!