Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Can of Spinach

When my brother was about four years old, he went through a "Popeye" phase, culminating in daily pleas for my mom to buy him a can of spinach. I'm sure he envisioned giving that can of vegetables a good squeeze, catching a few gulps in his mouth and watching the biceps burst forth!

So, when my mom purchased a can of spinach, my little brother carried it around with him for an entire day. Finally, at dinner, my parents opened his prized possession...

It's a sad thing when our anticipation collides with reality. I'll never forget the look on my brother's face when the first taste hit his tongue. A mixture of disgust, surprise and betrayal ("Why would you allow me to put that awful stuff in my mouth!?!?"). All those dreams of macho muscles lay crushed on top of a pile of soggy, slimy, bitter green veggies. And the only thing left was a broken-hearted, sobbing little boy.

We tasted our own can of spinach yesterday afternoon at the community pool. For a week, Drew has been thrilled about his upcoming swim lessons. He reminded me daily that he was going to be learning how to swim because he was a "Big Boy now!" When we got to the pool, we strolled around the complex and watched some other children finishing the swim class before ours. Drew spotted the kiddie pool, filled with colorful slides and spraying water, and asked if we could do our swim lessons over there.

"No," I replied. "You'll be doing your class wherever your teacher tells you to go."

Perhaps I should have explained swim lessons a little more clearly. The first bitter tastes began to hit his tongue.

"Aren't you staying with me, mommy?" he asked.
"Well, I'll be sitting over on the side while you swim with your class."

A tear or two filled his little eyes.
"I want to be with you, mommy."
Oh boy! This could get interesting.

The teacher arrived at that point and the children began following her like ducklings straight toward the pool. All except my son. By this point, he'd decided that swim lessons weren't matching up with his expectations, and he was no longer interested in participating. Unfortunately for everyone at the pool yesterday, I gave him no choice.

For the next 45 minutes, my child screamed and cried while sitting on the ledge of the pool, with his back to the teacher, unable to bear the idea of even looking at the water. He pleaded with me to save him from his misery. His sobs could be heard all across the complex...

"Please come get me mommy!"
"I'm all done now!"
"I miss you, mommy!"

Meanwhile, Grandma and Grandpa decided to stop by and check out their grandson's first day of swim. (After all, they had seen how excited he was for weeks before, how great his anticipation had been, and they wanted to share in that joy.)

But one look at the scene unfolding at the pool yesterday, and my father knew that he'd seen this situation before. "Uh Oh, Looks like Drew just opened his first can of spinach!!!" he said to my mom.

Perhaps swimming, like spinach, is an acquired taste. Stay tuned. One lesson down, seven more to go...

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