Mum's the Word

Turtlenecks and Brussels sprouts

Posted: Sep. 13, 2017 2:14 pm Updated: Sep. 13, 2017 2:22 pm

As my head comes through the top I'm trying on, I feel it grip on my neck and all of a sudden I'm 9 and choking.

Not really, of course, but that's how it used to feel when I was forced to wear a turtleneck. I would fall dramatically to the ground, stretching at the fabric enslaving me while crying, "I'm choking, I'm choking, I'm choking." I can see my mom rolling her eyes and declaring in a exasperated tone, "Oh Jennifer, you're fine!"

Funny enough, in my adulthood, I ended up in mom's closet one day and noticed that she had two turtlenecks in every color. It was like the Noah's Arc of turtlenecks. I called my sister and we talked about a possible intervention. Then we had a good laugh about our childhood of wearing turtlenecks. To this day, we both have a bit of an aversion. To that ... and red, white and blue Polo's with khakis due to private school uniforms.

Brussels sprouts also made the list. I couldn't eat them until well after college because of a childhood of being forced to eat at least three with any given dinner. I was convinced they were squishy balls of dirt-filled water. I now love them, in moderation, and have gone on to live a normal life.

I also don't mind an extremely loose-fitting turtleneck, like a cowl neck.

These two seemingly trivial examples are why I'm a little leery of forcing certain things on my kids. While I'm not really scarred and my mom was pretty awesome, I have spent a lifetime fighting against turtlenecks and Brussels sprouts, more out of resentment than dislike.

I think it's important to try new things and sometimes eat and wear things you don't like for the greater good, but I also think it's equally important to weigh the likes and dislikes and make choices accordingly. If you've tried the Brussels sprouts and hate the Brussels sprouts, I'm not going to give you the Brussels sprouts ... unless there is some sort of zombie apocalypse in which Brussels sprouts are the only vegetable and you have to eat them to survive.

With four kids. there's only so much patience and energy to go around. You don't like this dinner and you've tried it? Go make yourself some cheese and crackers! You don't like jeans? No more jeans! As long as you're wearing appropriate clothing, I accept your aversion to certain fabrics. Gram would be so proud that you know what thread count is.

So, no need to feed your vegetables to the dog, I'm taking note and I get it it.

(Disclaimer: I may be having a carefree moment and change my mind about all of this tomorrow.)

There are plenty of other things I can subconsciously try to force on you so that you have something to tell your therapist when you're older. Let me go check my closet ...

Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.