This week’s super-non-controversial substitute opinion: kids should eat their dinner. There! Take issue with that! (Courtesy Photo / Unsplash)

This week’s super-non-controversial substitute opinion: kids should eat their dinner. There! Take issue with that! (Courtesy Photo / Unsplash)

Slack Tide: ‘The Ballad of the Never-Ending Dinner’

Let’s talk about the real issues — kids should finish their suppers.

By Geoff Kirsch

I abhor controversy, especially caused by my own unsolicited opinion.

So whenever I’m tempted to weigh-in publicly — as I am now, three weeks into a dangerous electoral standoff spurred entirely by one man’s deep-seated psychological issues — I take a breath. In that breath, I try to replace that urge with the most ideologically neutral assertion possible, something left-wingers, right-wingers, moderates, extremists and even Rudolph Giuliani would agree with.

[Slack Tide: Everything you want to know about snow but were too afraid to ask]

This week’s super-non-controversial substitute opinion: Kids should eat their dinner. There! Take issue with that!

And to make sure I don’t slip in any righteous indignation, I’ll address this subject in rhyming heroic couplets. After all, nothing rhymes with “selfish refusal to acknowledge reality.”

Ahem…

In a house like your house, on a street like your street

A little girl’s family sat down to eat.

Their dinner plates heaped with meat-starch-veg

And a bowl with tomatoes and a crisp iceberg wedge.

“Salt,” Daddy said. “Ketchup,” asked brother.

“Don’t talk with your mouths full,” said the girl’s mother.

The girl, herself, was less than enthused.

To dine, yet again, she simply refused.

You see, every night she pulled the same shtick

Poking and prodding, not eating a lick (not even licking a lick—that’s a pretty neat trick!)

Waiting it out was her usual scheme

And then, maybe later, a little ice cream?

But tonight her mother put her foot down.

“I’ve had it, that’s it,” she said with a frown.

“That’s quite enough of this no-dinner stuff.

Tonight, you are eating. Don’t like it? Well, tough.”

“We’ll see,” the girl said, cutting pieces real small

To wad up in her napkin rolled into a ball.

But the little girl’s mother was not to be fooled.

“Better eat up, before it’s all cooled.”

“I mean it,” she added, dinner congealing

Foul and disgusting and most unappealing

As the family finished, the young girl was stricken.

Sickened by chicken she’d left to let thicken.

Her salad looked pallid, peas smelled of disease

Mashed potatoes now play dough, rock-hard broccolis.

And there sat her brother, to make matters worse

Happily forking down double dessert.

“Please,” the girl begged, “can I just have some cake?”

“No,” said Mom, Dad nodding, “and make no mistake.”

“On this point, young lady, there’ll be no debate:

You won’t leave the table ‘til you finish that plate.”

With brother excused—“that was delicious!”

Mom and Dad started to tackle the dishes.

Leaving the girl to sit there and stare

At her uneaten dinner, alone in her chair.

But some kids are stubborn, and the girl pushed back.

Figuring sooner or later her mother would crack. (But mom didn’t crack; she dug in, in fact.)

The girl ate not a morsel, Mom budged not at all.

Dad tried to make peace, he was sent down the hall.

“This is between my daughter and me.”

“Get out of here, daddy, please let us be.”

An hour more passed, then two, then three.

No break from the table, not even to pee.

(Thinking this standoff might postpone for bed?

Sadly, it doesn’t. Here’s what happens instead.)

“Getting late,” mom said. “Will you please eat at last?”

Arms crossed, head shaking, the girl stood fast.

“Okay, but you’ll sit here, no matter how late.

You won’t leave the table ‘til you finish that plate.”

Then Mom went upstairs, flipping on one small light

Under which girl and meal spent a very looooonnnnngggggg night.

Next day when she woke, had it all been a dream?

Coffee… PJs… plain old weekend morning, it seemed.

But while the rest all ate waffles, there, sure as heck was

The little girl’s dinner, now served for breakfast.

“How ‘bout now,” mom asked. “Ready to eat?”

The girl’s mouth dropped; she squirmed in her seat.

Still, she held strong and stuck to her guns

Despite the temptation of fresh cinnamon buns.

“Nothing,” said mom, “‘til your dinner’s all ate.

You won’t leave the table ‘til you finish that plate.”

And on it went day by day, and the next, and the next and the next and the next

Lasting much, much, much longer than one would expect.

And though, for some reason, she never got thinner

The girl took not one bite of that dinner.

Weeks became months became years then decades

Little Blonde stayed and the food still remained.

Her brother grew up, her parents grew old

They retired down south, and their house had been sold.

“Well,” rasped her mother, “how about now?”

“Nope,” the girl said. “I won’t stomach this chow.”

“Then have it your way, if that is your fate.

You won’t leave the table ‘til you finish your plate.”

So the stalemate went on into posterity

Just some food, a girl and her childish temerity.

They became an exhibit in a future museum

Where parents took fussy non-eaters to see ‘em.

To warn of what happens and who is the winner

Of generational conflict re: the eating of dinner.

Of course this was not what the girl intended.

Now regretting her position so staunchly defended.

Why hadn’t she downed just a few measly bites?

With that the girl found herself back on that very first night.

“Okay, you win,” she said and mom laughed.

“Then I’ll make you a deal,” mom said. “Just eat half.”


• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.


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