This is a conversation I had with Wallace, my three-year-old, as we were driving to school yesterday. We had to be there early so I could rush to my doctor’s appointment at 8:45, so the boys were eating their breakfast in route.
Me: “Wallace, did you finish your sandwich already?”
Wallace: “No, I gave to Piers.”
Me: “Wallace, it’s grilled cheese, your favorite. You need to eat something so you won’t get hungry at school. Piers, give him his sandwich back.”
Wallace erupts: “NO!!!!!!! I don’t want it. I hate it!!! I can’t eat that!!!!!!”
I’m perplexed. I made a point to give him grilled cheese because he’ll ALWAYS eat that. What is the deal? I do my best to remain calm. I tend to explode in the morning, or anytime I have to be anywhere at a certain time. Being punctual is not in my DNA, and nothing stresses me more than trying to get places on time.
Me: “Wallace. This is ridiculous. Just eat your sandwich, and you’ll feel better. You’re upset because your blood sugar’s out of whack.”
Wallace: “It has CRUST on it. I can’t eat crust!!”
Okay, mystery solved. In my attempt to feed them quickly, I left his sandwich whole, where I typically cut it in half. However, I NEVER cut the crust off my children’s sandwiches. I’m sorry, call me a terrible parent, I just refuse. If they don’t want crust, fine, I don’t make them eat it, but they have to eat around it. Wallace was struggling to eat around the crust since it was one big square. Oh, for heaven’s sake. I am NOT patient when it comes to stuff like this. I do my best to compose myself.
Me: “Wallace, take a bite of the crust or tear the sandwich in half. You’re beside yourself. Now, eat your sandwich.”
Wallace (dramatic as ever): “Mom, you don’t understand. I can’t eat crust! It might kill me!! I’m allergic to crust!”
He’s evolved from two-year-old cave-baby talk and no longer merely screams NO when he’s not happy. We’ve moved to a more sophisticated justification. As frustrating as this is, I understand. I really get it. How nice would it be as an adult to tell people you’re allergic to whatever you don’t want to do? I’m thinking back to several situations during the past week.
For example, Piers’ teacher asked me to make a casserole for the Pre-K Thanksgiving post-show potluck. “I’m sorry, I can’t. I’m allergic to casseroles or more specifically, cooking in general. You’ll have to ask someone else.”
Or, to the receptionist when she called to inform me that they had double-booked my 10am appointment time and the only slot available now was 8:45. “No, I can’t do anything earlier than 10:00. I’m allergic. You’ll have to re-book someone else. I need to keep that time.”
Or, to my mom’s lawyer who called at the very last minute requesting signed and notarized documents, so my mother could close on her home refinance. As in, I found out on Wednesday that ten plus forms needed to be notarized and in her hand by 4pm on Friday. “Um, no. There is absolutely no way I can get these to you by Friday. I can’t do last-minute deadlines. I’m allergic.”
Wow! It’s totally more civilized. Who cares if people look at me like I have three heads. I remember when I waited tables and a customer would rattle off ten different modifications to basic menu items. I would attempt to get everything down on my small notepad while in my head I was screaming, “HIGH MAINTENANCE!! If your tastes are so specific, go home and cook for yourself.” However…..all the person would have to do is utter the word “allergic” and I was more than willing to accommodate. I certainly didn’t want to risk killing anyone.
“Oh, you’re allergic. By all means, have WHATEVER you wish, my dear.”
I glance at my precocious son in the rear view mirror, and realize that he’s the victor. No more arguing. He’s made his case. It’s time to admit defeat.
“Okay, Wallace. You’re going to be hungry, but I understand. You’re allergic.”