As we stroll through the produce department of Whole Foods, Baby S’s chunky little toddler arm shot out and snapped back like a pale rubber band. He looked up at me and smiled, both hands proudly gripping a gigantic piece of fruit.
“That’s an orange,” I said, enunciating carefully. Silencing the little voice in my head cautioning me from encouraging him to get grabby in the grocery store and overcoming the wave of frustration I felt at visiting our second grocery store of the morning, I took a deep breath and relaxed into the opportunity to have a teaching moment.
“Do you want that orange?” I asked. Even though I know Baby S does not typically show an interest in food, there’s something about being surrounded by rows of organic free trade produce that always inspires hope that it is possible to have children with appetites and eating habits worthy of a public service announcement. It is why I always end up throwing away rotting apples at the end of the week. I always think THIS will be the week the boys decide they simply must have apples in multiple colors and varieties at every meal.
I felt the excitement at a healthy food discovery creeping up into my stomach. As I looked at Baby S’s sweet face gazing in wonder at the picture-perfect orange in his lap, I just knew that this was the day Baby S would develop his love of fruit. I saw him moving on from fruit to bananas and strawberries and ultimately even transitioning to vegetables (none of which have I ever been able to convince him to try in his two years on this earth).
“Smell it. It smells so good,” I said, lifting the orange toward his nose. “We can get that if you want.”
“Eat?” he asks, my hope for a major food breakthrough reaching a fever pitch.
After explaining that we buy fruit before we eat it since the cost is based on weight and by eating it we would decrease its weight and therefore be stealing, concepts I’m sure he understood completely, I turned to complete my shopping.
Tossing some bananas into the basket, I noticed Baby S had jumped the gun in spite of my explanation and had his little teeth sunk into the bitter outer peel of the orange.
I watched his face screw up with distaste as my hopes for healthy food nirvana dissolved.
Thunk. The orange hit the bottom of the basket with the sound of broken dreams and utter rejection.
“No like orange!”
Damn. Next time skip the lecture on proper fruit buying procedure and just peel the stinkin’ orange.