One of my daughter’s early teachers was called “Cupcake” (not to her face) by the parents, because of her penchant for celebrating every birthday, half-birthday, and holiday, including obscure-in-America British holidays, by serving fluffy cakes with gobs of frosting. She considered sugar to be, in part, a learning tool. It was quite effective. My daughter does not remember the storyline to The Lace Snail, which we read a gazillion times (it’s wonderful), but she still speaks fondly of London’s October Plenty. Attempts to form letters were rewarded with m&m’s or bits of red licorice.
Why am I thinking about this now, a few years after the fact? Because I just spent two hours learning how to make a radish mouse to entice my daughter to eat her veggies. Any veggie. A no-thank-you bite of cherry tomato. A snippet of gray green bean out of her Alphabet Soup.
For many years I was a sugar-free vegan (this was before Carolyn and I began entering the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I grant you) and regularly offered collards and kale to my daughter, who ate her greens with gusto. Oh, yes she did. In fact, her favorite breakfast was brown rice with butter, tiny minced carrots, nori seaweed and gomasio. And then…Cupcake.
I love you, Cupcake, I do. When introducing children to school, it’s a Jewish tradition to dot the pages of a book with honey so the learning will be sweet. My daughter’s books were smeared with buttercream; I suppose that’s close. And when she majors in British history I’m quite sure I will remember you fondly. But I can’t help the pang of regret and frustration I experienced when she saw that adorable mouse staring up from her salad. Raising it by it’s long radish root tail, she stared ambivalently awhile then asked, “Do I get dessert if I eat this?”
My next attempt will be carrot-cake oatmeal. I’ll post the recipe if successful.