Just last week, I made an unforgivable faux pas. As I prepared dinner, our four-year-old son asked me to cut off the bottom of a raw broccoli so he could prop it up on the table and pretend it was a tree. He played with it for a while and then walked away to play with something else in the living room. Thinking he was finished with it, I did what came naturally, that is, I chopped it up and threw it in the steamer.
The minute I threw it all in the steamer, the Little Man came back to the kitchen table and asked me where his tree was. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him I had cut it up.
He let out the most pitiful "NOoooo!" and walked away utterly crushed.
Thankfully, he ate the broccoli once it was ready, but I vowed that the next time I would do it differently.
So come yesterday evening, I was once again preparing broccoli. And once again, the Little Man played "tree" with it. This time he even disappeared for a moment, only to return a moment later with a small Lego figure of a little man. He put it under the tree, and after a while he put it on top of the tree. And when he was done playing, he looked at me sternly, "Mom, don't cut it up!"
And this time I was ready.
"Do you want me to try cooking it whole this time, Honey?"
His eyes grew big in wonder at the possibility.
Why not? Who says that we have to chop up the broccoli and cook it in the same way we've always done. Who says that we have to eat it in the same way we've always eaten it?
I had no idea if it would be cooked enough, or if it would fall apart when we took it out of the steamer, but wonder of all wonders, not only did it stay in tact, but it also stood up like a tree. Albeit a cooked tree, but a tree nevertheless.
And the Little Man leaned over and bit right into it while it stood up in its full, glorious, cooked broccoliness.