In all of that time, the girls have eaten so many meals in each other's houses that I can predict what food Cheyenne will eat (she likes a slice of cheese on her hot dog) and what food she will politely eat around and scrape into the trash later (any sandwich with mustard, for one). And, in all of the years I've known her, Cheyenne has never consumed a mouthful of fruit or vegetables in my presence.
Not one. Not a slice of apple, not an ear of corn, not one green bean or snap pea. She comes to my house bearing a gaudy wealth of bomb pops, cotton candy, or Skittles. Do Skittles count as fruit? My own children can't leave the table until they've made a decent stab at finishing the serving of veggies I make them take (the fresh fruit is a much easier sell). But I hesitate to enforce my food requirements on guests, even young ones.
"Cheyenne," I cajole, "why don't you have a slice of orange?"
"No thank you," she says (her manners are always so much better than my Rowdy Tribe's), "I only like the ones in the can."
"Here," I say, "everyone take some corn." And she will; if I insist, she'll put a spoonful on her plate. When we clear our plates later: scrape. Into the trash it goes.
What can this child possibly eat at home?
My daughter brings home vague reports about what she had at Cheyenne's house. "Oh, I already had dinner," she'll say.
"What did you have?"
"Pizza." I like pizza. We have pizza night once at week at our house. We serve it with a salad and sliced fruit.
Of course, my daughter's young, and not the most reliable reporter. Sometimes she'll tell me they didn't eat. "Cheyenne's dad was too busy playing on the computer." I've lost many, many hours to the siren call of Guild Wars II, myself. But I'm fairly sure that nobody's playing a game more compelling than feeding their children dinner. I mean, at some point you have to stop and sell all the gear you can't use, so you have time to boil some spaghetti while you wait for the marketplace to load!
I'm not the parent to talk about picky eaters, either. For the first twelve years of his life, my son refused to eat anything besides plain hot dogs (no bun), chicken fingers (no dip), cheese quesadillas (cheddar only), and green apple slices (not red). It's only been in the last few years that he's discovered a taste for a variety of food, and even so he won't eat a slice of pizza if it has sauce on it. My older daughter thinks any potato not make into a french fry is disgusting, and she won't touch anything that's been in contact with a legume. It's only my youngest, who spent her preschool years in Japan eating sushi and rice balls with me while her siblings were in school, who has an adventurous palate.
Still, though. Three and a half years, and not one vegetable? Not one fruit? Not one baby carrot or green bean, not one apple or strawberry? I just hope my own children don't notice that Cheyenne's growth hasn't been stunted and scurvy apparently hasn't made her teeth fall out, or they might see through my threats and start refusing to eat their vegetables, too.