The Princess and the Peas

A close-up of peas. The Princess and the Peas.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about parenting is my ability to forget things. Specifically how to negotiate tricky phases.

And, yes, we’re in one of those at the moment. I call this particular tale of parenting woe The Princess and the Peas.

You see, youngest seems to have something against vegetables. And, despite going through this stage twice before with her brothers, I can’t recall how we emerged from it.

Of course, I have one thing at my disposal that not every parent has – a blog dating back almost a decade. Maybe I documented the answer to this interminable parenting battle?

None sprang to mind so I used the search facility and tried some logical keywords. ‘Vegetables’, ‘eating’ and ‘FFS’ yielded plenty of results, but none truly relevant to my needs.

And that’s when it struck me. I must have felt so beleaguered by this phase that I couldn’t face writing about it. It must have been horrific on both previous occasions.

Presumably, the reward charts, attempts at bribery and good old empty threats amounted to nothing when it came to eating anything other than sausages.

Ah well, never mind. The older two do eat their vegetables now and I do recall writing something about the fact that parenting battles are eventually won.

So what’s the purpose of this post? Well, just to whinge about it, to be honest.

Youngest is very much into Disney Princesses at the moment and, when she completes her reward chart, we buy her a reasonably-priced doll.

This method worked with potty training and finally getting her to stay in her own bed – she has Elsa and Moana to show for those – so I had high hopes. But, so far, there has been no joy.

We’ve dangled the prospect of Belle, Mulan and Tiana in front of her but clearly her hate for vegetables outweighs her love of these characters.

Other tactics have included reading vegetable-themed bedtime stories as a kind of healthy eating propaganda and even hiding veg in other food. None of it works.

The thing is, I think she has come to think of herself as a princess. The other day, she genuinely referred to us as ‘servants’.

Maybe, surrounding herself by fictional royalty has led her to believe that she actually is aristocratic and, therefore, above our rules. Who knows?

There was a crumb of comfort the other day. She had a plate containing some untouched peas and eight pieces of fish finger.

“If I eat these,” she said, pointing to the fish fingers, can I have eight stickers on my reward chart?”

She had previously demonstrated the same ambivalence to numbers as vegetables. So, despite being taken aback by her chutzpah, I was impressed.

So, much like most of her meals, the story of The Princess and the Peas remains unfinished. But she’s quietly acing other things and that’s all that matters.

Until September – we’ve signed her up for school dinners. Then she’s on her own!


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