At some point during the week we receive a Whatsapp message from our daughter who is away at university. It contains a photo of a meal she is about to eat. A proof of life, if you will. Letting us know that all is well and she is taking good care of herself.
When I see the pile of vegetables on her plate I fluctuate between pride, relief and deep suspicion. If I typed “healthy meal” into google images would I find this is a stock photo used to lull me into a false sense of security?
Not a stock image, honest.
Of course, these are only the meals we see. Who knows how many Pot Noodles are consumed in the privacy of her accommodation.
Not that I can claim any superiority when it comes to student grub. I mostly existed on pre-packaged sachets of dried pasta bought from Kwik Save. I considered it a hoity-toity alternative to ramen. When I really wanted to class it up I would throw in a tin of sweetcorn. My culinary skills have not developed much since then. Any dish becomes immeasurably more sophisticated if I throw in a can of sweetcorn.
If we now have a child who is a paragon of healthy eating, it wasn’t always the case. Phil was determined to try her on as many foods as possible when she was a baby and followed the theory that it takes eight attempts for a youngster to adapt to a new food. This theory, proved wrong in the face of mounting evidence, reached breaking point when I fed a sort of grey lentil slurry (not the actual name of the dish, but accurate) to our child while we were at Phil’s best friend’s wedding.
I was literally holding the baby while Phil ran around doing bridesmaid stuff, i.e. having fun with her mates for the first time since becoming a mum. After our daughter had swallowed her last spoonful there was a slight delay as she considered if this was the eighth time she had tried lentil slurry and was henceforth converted to the delights of the delicious legume. A number of emotions passed quickly over her face. A flicker of resistance, a premonition of the vegetarian she would eventually become and an outraged look of betrayal that I had promised something tasty to eat and fed her lentils. Again. She reacted swiftly and without mercy. Hosing the contents of her stomach at me, herself and the car seat I was carrying her around in.
It was such a spectacularly disgusting display that the wedding photographer looked at me with infinite pity. It is to his credit he didn’t take a snap of me for the mirth of the bride and groom at a later date. With my supply of wet wipes exhausted and lentil puke dripping from the end of my nose, I accepted my day was done.
No finger food for me.
I drove back to the place where we were staying, set up the travel cot and closed the curtains on a still sunny evening. I was going to have to have the talk with Phil. Not immediately, obviously. It would have to wait until she was sober.
You know the one. The difficult discussion about our future together. Our hopes and dreams. I spent some time thinking how I would frame the words and how many more showers I would need to be rid of the scent of regurgitated lentils.
We had the chat. Later. After her hangover had worn off. I am happy to say we reached an understanding. That out cherished offspring just was not going to be a lentil eater. We had pursued this endeavour with the best of intentions, met a determined resistance and could now move on to pureed butternut squash.
If your relationship can survive ‘The Lentil Talk‘ then you are golden.
I expect to hear the notification from my phone any day now. It will be a WhatsApp message with a picture attached. I will open it up to find a photo of a delicious lentil feast.
Keep me stocked up with tins of sweetcorn by purchasing signed and sketched copies of Kerry and the Knight of the Forest from my store.
Hacking and virus misinformation is the subject of tomorrow’s Patreon story.
Mini comics galore signed and sketched and kept in a box remain in stock.