“Do you know what happens when you eat purple grapes? You get happy.”
This is what I told Dylan during our impromptu backyard picnic yesterday. Yes, I hosted an afternoon picnic for Dylan and Riley. Believe it or not, I’m capable of creative parenting that doesn’t involve the television…on occasion. And besides, I read another article about how preschoolers watch too much television and how bad it is for them. I’m not sure if I agree entirely (Dylan can count in Spanish thanks to Dora and he knows the ins and outs of camping from the Bubble Guppies), but my mama guilt went into overdrive. Thus, the backyard picnic.
Dylan actually requested the picnic snacks – grapes, strawberries, Pirate’s Booty and fruit squeezers. I imagined the fruit would go to waste unless Riley and I ate it, but I never turn down an opportunity to expose Dylan to new food.
So, we were sitting on the picnic blanket in the backyard and I asked Dylan if he wanted a grape. He said yes and ate one. I kept my cool because making a big deal out of these things can shut him down, but I actually thought I might pass out from the sight of him eating a purple grape. I didn’t want him to stop, so I told him that eating purple grapes makes people happy. This caught his attention. “You get instantly happy when you eat a grape,” I said. “Grapes make you smile.” Then I pretended to be sad and ate a grape and smiled. What happened next was unimaginable. We ate grape after grape pretending first to be sad and then to be happy.
I really was overjoyed, but I was also a little bit suspicious. I thought maybe Dylan had been snatched at school and replaced with an imposter, but then he heard a noise in the yard behind ours and got scared that foxes were coming to get us. Nope, it was definitely my Dylan.
“Dylan, do you know what happens when you eat strawberries? You laugh.” I demonstrated and then he took a turn. Then me. Then him. It was unbelievable. Even Riley got in on the game, although I’m not sure he knew what the game really was.
So, this was how Dylan came to eat a ton of fruit yesterday with no pressure, punishment or negativity of any kind. When the picnic was over and we were back in the house, he asked for pretzels. It was close to dinnertime, but I was so happy about the fruit consumption that I obliged. Before he put the first pretzel in his mouth, he said, “Mommy, what happens when you eat a pretzel?” I said, “You quack like a duck.” There was a lot of quacking after that. This morning, Dylan asked for a banana for breakfast and I said, “Do you know what happens when you eat a banana? You sneeze.” There was a lot of sneezing after that.
If you see a little boy today who is smiling, laughing, quacking and sneezing – potentially all at once – don’t be too concerned. It might just be my little Dylan who is gradually discovering that eating fruit isn’t so bad.