“Mama, I no like.”
“Take a bite, Olive. Take a bite and THEN tell me you don’t like it.”
“Mama, I no like sting cheese. Poo-ay.”
Steam shot out of my ears. This was the third time we’d gone through this routine today: she begged and begged for something (applesauce, oatmeal, and now string cheese), I gave it to her, she said “I no like it,” I persuaded her to try just one little bite, she acquiesced and remembered why she was so desperate to have the item in the first place. On the third time through, it was getting old.
We had just left Target, snack for tomorrow night’s ECFE class in tow. After the begging, I plucked a shrink-wrapped string cheese from the bag, opened it, and handed it to her. We climbed in, strapped in, and off I drove. And then, step two.
Okay, I thought, I’ve got this.
“Mommy will take a bite. Give it to me.” This was her normal point of weakness; if I admitted to wanting something she invariably decided it was to be prized above all things and NOT shared with Mommy.
But this time she handed it up to me without a hitch.
In one move I grabbed it from her hand and chomped off an end, chewing with gusto. “Mmmmmm. Cheese.”
And then – a little strange sawdusty taste. I plunged on.
This one was immediate sawdust, and something I couldn’t identify, something slightly tart and edgy. Something that made me have to immediately stop the car and upchuck out the opened driver’s side door.
I couldn’t look at her. And I couldn’t talk, as I was without a drink and completely unable to account for what might come out of my mouth if I opened it. We drove home in silence.
Later, after washing out my mouth with a tumbler full of water and downing a big glass of Coke (I figured that would kill anything remaining): “Mommy’s sorry, Olive. I should’ve listened to you. Will you forgive me?”
And then I ravaged the package of string cheeses. They look fine, in their little plastic sheaths. I don’t remember anything untoward about the one I pulled out, though. It felt fine, looked fine. But I’m so torn – can I take these to school for a roomful of toddlers when they might perhaps be moldy? I could open them all and check them – but then that would defeat the purpose of buying prepackaged foods (per district rule – I would be baking otherwise). I could warn the teacher that they might be a little off… but then would they even bother? Should they?
I don’t know.
But I DO know that next time I’ll pay slightly better attention to my daughter’s protests. Even on the third time through.
The fourth may still be a challenge.