My 10-year old son picked up the sliver of banana and held it at arm's length.
"You want me to eat all this?"
"Yes. There is about one-sixtieth of a portion of fruit there, but it's better than nothing."
"I don't want it."
"Just eat it."
This conversation, with the insertion of various seasonal fruits, is part of my family's cozy breakfast ritual every morning.
While my younger son will eat pretty much any fruit or veg, my older one is much less obliging in this department. When he was 3, he went grey from poor nutrition. Strawberry Starburst was his side dish of choice.
It wasn't like this when I was little. I didn't know kids who didn't like fruit and veg. Really I didn't. We had parents who grew up on rations, and who made you feel like an ingrate if so much as a pea was left on your plate. Today however, we have raised a generation of children who are encouraged to have opinions, which may be a good thing in many ways, but is an absolute bugger to manage at the breakfast table.
I considered forcing the banana issue. But this is the son who has, on more than one occasion, vomited up food he does not like all over the table. I was not equipped to deal with anything quite so theatrical this morning. Instead, I reached for the blender.
I dropped in one banana, a handful of blueberries, a questionable-looking pear, a good slug of milk, and a splash of strawberry syrup. Whizzed it up. He drank the lot.
The smoothie ploy wins every time. And while I am delighted that it prevents my son from turning an alarming shade of grey, I cannot help but be conflicted about the message I am sending.
You can get people to swallow anything. As long as you whizz it up the right way.