Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Vegetable Challenge

One of the most difficult challenges I've faced as a single-parent is to get my children to eat green vegetables. I can get them to prepare themselves to school, buckle-up in the car, clean-up their rooms (somewhat), and even switch-off the television with little resistant but to get them to eat green vegetables is almost impossible. Somehow, they just cannot bring themselves to swallow those green leaves and they look genuinely distressed when forced to do so. I am indeed at a lost on how to change this.

Once upon a time, Popeye The Sailor Man was a popular cartoon among kids. The fact that Popeye eats spinach to get his strength to beat-up his foe helped a lot of parents then to get their kids to eat vegetables. But Popeye unfortunately isn't popular among kids anymore. And as far as I know, they aren't any contemporary cartoon characters whose main persona revolves around him/her eating vegetables.

I had troubles with vegetables too during my own childhood. Popeye was a motivator but what crucially pushed me to start eating lots of vegetables was something I learned when I was 10, in Standard 4 in a class that existed back then called Alam & Manusia. We were learning about the different vitamins and the various benefits they each provide. Way down the list was Vitamin K and one of its main benefits is to prevent infertility (mencegah kemandulan).

I didn't actually know what infertility means. All I knew was it meant a person wouldn't be able to have kids. And since I was already imagining having lots of kids of my own, the word infertility (mandul) so terrified me, it got me started eating lots and lots of vegetables. It worked wonders I guess as I had three kids within seven years of marriage. To have more however would be a bit difficult now since my wife passed away nine months ago.

My late wife was indeed more successful in persuading the kids to eat vegetables. Whenever she cooked, at least one veggie dish will be prepared and she would always ask the kids to take some. And the kids somehow were able to eat them. It seems like they only eat vegetables cooked by their mother, not by anyone else.

I'm struggling quite a bit since my wife died. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Looking after the kids and dealing with the various chores around the house aren't what I'm struggling with. The emotional and spiritual issues are those that continue to affect me. My late wife would've celebrated her birthday yesterday (9 January), and as I remember back the circumstances that preceded her death, my heart still aches with a tinge of sadness.

At some point however, we have to move on. As much as I think I can raise our three children on my own, there will always be a few things that I won't be able to do on my own. My eldest daughter is fast approaching the stage where there will be a few 'female issues' to deal with. And I could certainly use some help to get the kids to eat green vegetables again.