September 19, 2010

battle of the broccoli

If I like it, it's mine

If it's near me, it's mine

If it's broccoli, it's yours.
modified Toddler Laws, by jenhansoniowa

Raise your hand if you like broccoli!

"I do, I do!" {{waving wildly!!}}

I've always loved vegetables. As a kid, I reportedly sat on the kitchen table, with my little index finger curled into a little hook, scooping up left-over veggies into my mouth.

Unfortunately, my boys have not inherited the same zeal and zest for veggies that I possess.

Sure, when they were babies, and did not know any better, they liked vegetables. But I've been noticing a trend: the older they get, the pickier they get.

A few months ago, I began to notice that my once-stellar-veggie-eater-Ollie was not eating his veggies anymore.

Not one.

And under the baby haze of Twain, I didn't/couldn't deal with his boycotts.

I remember one night very clearly though. It was a busy night, as we were getting ready for both AWANA and small group. We told Ollie that he had to eat one piece of broccoli, and then he could have the rest of his dinner.

And Ollie{being the very stubborn child that he is} refused to comply with our wishes.

John and I decided it was time to put our foot down. He really needed to eat one vegetable. But he simply refused.

But John can out stubborn his stubborn son. This stubborn-ness runs deep in their Swedish veins, I hear.

So, it became the battle of the broccoli. Ollie decided he'd rather skip dinner than eat his meager little broccoli. So we packed him up{with broccoli} and dropped him off at Grandma's house.

I think an hour or 2 later, Grandma Betty{also stubborn, but in a good way} finally got him to nibble on his broccoli.

Over the next few weeks, John and I fully waged war against this broccoli battle.

I know of some people who sneak chopped veggies into rice, which I think is ingenious. And I've tried it, and it works.

However, it's not always feasible. And I don't always have rice on hand. At some point, my boys must face their veggies and eat them, even if they are yucky.

So, here is something we try to do, and I've heard it works well for other families too:

Serve the veggies first.

Call it an appetizer.

But they must eat them to earn the rest of their dinner.

And for the most part, it has been working well--Ollie is eating veggies again!!!

I recently started implementing this at lunch too:

Those yellow{and red} cherry tomatoes are delicious.

Little evidences of broccoli on his lips.

Even Tweetle was enjoying his veggie appetizers.

As I sat and watched Ollie cheerfully gobbling his veggies, I wanted to cry with sheer joy. I was just about to cheer and declare victory over our battle of the veggies...

"Here Ollie eat just one more piece of broccoli and you can have your sandwich!", I said encouragingly.

I don't know why I didn't leave well enough alone.

But he glared at that lone piece of broccoli and with all the defiance he could muster he screamed,


And the battle line was re-drawn.

My heart sank. By now I was kicking myself.

But his little tone was so defiant I could not ignore it.

All in one second these thoughts simultaneously swirled in my head
  • Was I being unreasonable? He did just eat most of the veggies.
  • Was I pushing too far and making him hate veggies?
  • Or if I gave in, was I setting a horrible precedence that obedience was optional?
  • Would he learn to call my bluff in the future?

Sometimes I really don't know what to do.

But, I realized, this was not about broccoli. Nor was it about eating healthy or not healthy.

This was a battle over the heart and obedience of my child--something we have been struggling with lately and trying to work on.

Even though I was not in the mood to hear the screams and tantrums, one thing was sure. Ollie was worth going to battle for.

I decided to compromise a smidge and cut his piece of broccoli in half. Or in fourths. Whatever.

I once again told Ollie to eat his broccoli and this is what ensued.

Real tears. Over this.
Fer crying out loud in bucket.

Oh that stubborn Ollie.

This went on for quite a bit and Ollie had to sit on his bed til he calmed down.

I prayed that I was doing the right thing... and that I could stand firm with this one. I tend to have weak resolve with my children and their eating habits. The thought of Ollie skipping lunch over broccoli was very distressing.

Back at the table, Ollie finally gave in. He ate the broccoli.

I served him the rest of his lunch.

Whew. WHAT a battle.

Clearing our plates after lunch, like a big boy.

And yes, my table looks like a war zone.

As do my counters.

And if I turn my back for a second, Tweetle is into mischief. Who does he think he is?

Last night they gobbled my steamed broccoli like it was candy. I smiled happily and did a cheer,

B-R-O-C-C-O-L-I, go-oooo Broccoli!

Ok, I did not really do the cheer, but am ridiculous enough to do it. Don't put it past me.

It was a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but one that I will not take for granted. It cost a lot of tears.


  1. love that ollie was crying real tears and you just so happened to have your camera on hand for the event.

    i hate broccoli.

  2. Good for you Davi. Hold your ground. Good eaters are to be rewarded and I love that your boys eat healthy. More moms should learn from you.
    Broccoli, broccoli.
    That's our cry.
    Broccoli, broccoli eat it or die...or something like that. Anyway...

  3. oh my word..this is too much..hehe!

    go momma!

    um..and what is twain doing?..really?..why is he growing so fast!

  4. oh dear..... i'm sort of on team ollie.......
    i can totally relate to this post. but i was ollie and you were my mom. (now, i am STILL ollie, and you are mr. leif)

    i mean, i envy your love of veggies, like really i'm jealous.......because i've struggled with veggies my whole life - gotta be honest-i hate them.

    i can eat raw carrots and celery (if i have dip) and.... i do like corn on the cob. (does that one even count??)

    but broccoli? hooooofta. i don't know that i've ever really eaten a piece without gagging........unless its been in broc/cheese soup, then its 'ok'.

    however. i will want my kids to like it (and not crumple it in their napkin or drop it on the floor under the table like i did millions of times growing up.....)

    so, once again, you inspire me, you veggie-pushin momma :)

    hold your ground :) and yes, stop and pray too. that was a good idea as well :)

    maybe i'll hide my own veggies in rice.....


  5. The only way to get my son to eat veggies is to blend them up in a smoothie.

    Your photos are adorable, as always, and I love your yellow kitchen!

  6. Ooooh! I so know that Battle. Noah would just assume not eat at all and just drink Milk for the remainder of his life! We haven't even botheres with the lettuce battle...they love their fruit and Eli is beginning to eat more veges and love them. Noah though....mmmm...He's stubborn too! We have discussions about "Baby Trees" pretty often too!

    Suzanne! Eat it or Die??? LOL! How about Eat it and Fart! Now that'll get them to eat it! :)

  7. GENIOUS, i say! :) broccoli as an appetizer! pshhh. try it with squirts of lemon & a lil parmesan cheese! YES'M. audge will eat her broccoli. ellie will not. unless forced. & sometimes it's just not worth the fight. go with your heart, mama. you seem to be doin' just fine :)

    p.s. miss that cute lil' kitchen of yours! & those cute boys too!

  8. MJ, I agree...sometimes it's not worth the fight. I did regret that I pushed too far with the lil' piece of broccoli with Ollie and definitely should have stopped while I was ahead...and before I turned it into an ordeal. Live and Learn!

  9. These fights happen all the time with my Josiah. He is so stubborn. Then I wish i didn't push it too, but then I know if I give in then he knows he wins and the battle continues. Sometimes the battles are more about obedience then what you are actually asking. Way to stick your ground. I know it is so hard!!

  10. oh man, reading this tugged at my heart b/c MAN have i been there! Good for you sticking to your guns tho mama, it can be such a hard thing especially when it seems like it's a battle over something simple. But deep down you knew what the battle was really over, and you won. Now that's gotta make you smile :)

  11. twain is starting to look just like Calivin. Love them!

  12. Just thought I'd share that I like to stalk you over here occasionally. I love your posts like this, they are very encouraging.
    Go broccoli!