Like the picky hero of Seuss’ classic Green Eggs and Ham, my 10-year old son has decided that he does not like eggs, green or otherwise, and will not eat them under any circumstances. I’ve devised elaborate schemes to get him to try them, Lisa-I-Am, but to no success. He not only maintains his abhorrence of eggs, but he spurns anyone who has the audacity to offer them to him.
Perhaps it was Seuss’ truculent cat who emboldened our child to categorically refuse eggs. He will not eat them in the rain, on a train, in a box, with a fox, in a diner, at camp, at our kitchen table, or even when he is bribed with cash to take just one bite.
My son has never been an adventurous eater, sticking to classic kids’ fare of chicken nuggets, plain pasta, and hot dogs. A few years ago, when he was just starting first grade, my husband and I came up with the brilliant idea of “first-grade taste buds.” The idea, we explained to him, is that each year, new taste buds come in, like new teeth. Their arrival heralds a love of new, more grown-up foods!
Appealing to his desire to be a “big boy” worked like a charm, and our son tried a hamburger, matzo ball soup, and, get this, TOMATO SAUCE on his pasta. My husband and I felt like we won some big parenting contest. We patted ourselves on the back for not only expanding his palate, but creating a plan that could be re-initiated each year: lox and cream cheese in fourth-grade, sushi in sixth-grade, and even foie gras and escargot when he graduates from high school.
To an extent, our scheming has worked, and now he will eat lasagna (second-grade), skirt steak (third grade) and guacamole with onions (fourth grade)!
However, no taste buds or promises of maturity will entice him to touch an egg. Not with a ten-foot pole (or with a mole). He knows that some of his favorite foods are made with eggs, like brownies and his beloved matzo balls, but logic doesn’t figure in. His reaction to eggs is visceral. It would be sort of hilarious if it didn’t transform him from a sweet little boy to something a little more…rotten.
Yes, eating eggs has become painful. For me. If you saw the disgruntled look on his face as I boil, scramble or poach, you would think I was stabbing him with knives (or giving him hives!). His face scrunches up as if he bit into a lemon, and he moves as far away from me as possible. He moans about the smell and makes dramatic gagging sounds. And forget a kiss for mommy on the way out to work.
Going out for breakfast is an ordeal, as he stubbornly refuses to sit next to anyone who is even contemplating ordering eggs, scooching to the end of the booth and sulking not so quietly. When he went away to sleep-away camp, he was known to hide in the bathroom during breakfast to avoid “smelling the eggs.” (Eventually, they moved him to an allergy egg-free table, but we don’t have one of those at our house….yet). Oddly, I think he wears his aversion to eggs like a badge of honor.
So, as tired parents do, we gave up this fight. My son is not going to try eggs in the foreseeable future, even if extra taste buds come in for the year he repeated third grade. And some mornings, when I need that kiss goodbye, I opt for Corn Flakes. We live together and need to make life bearable for each other, in whatever form that takes. Fighting over eggs isn’t worth it. But for the more important battle, we will not crack.
We make sure he knows that he shouldn’t make people feel bad about what they are eating, remembering the preschool adage “don’t yuck someone’s yum.” We remind him not to make his “lemon face” or groan out loud when someone chomps on a bagel overloaded with egg salad. He practices “taking a breather” in the bathroom if he’s at a sleepover and they are serving eggs for breakfast. He is learning to be aware of others and develop empathy, and that’s all we can ask.
We just wish we could do it over an omelet.