The Battle of the Bean

by Susan Kawa

That's how it started. One bean. A token, really, in the grand scheme of her dinner plate.

But we parents feel compelled to enforce some level of hat-tipping to nutritional ideals. We know it's the age of Cheetos and fruit-rollups (the latter of which bears no molecular similarities to "fruit").

Remember what that poison apple did to Snow White? Well, a regular old apple elicits pretty much the same response in my house. Only without the quiet, dainty swoon.

All I wanted was to be able to sleep that night, secure in the belief that my daughter had ingested SOMETHING of value in the previous 24 hour period. It's a curse.

So, anyway, there she sat, arms crossed, brows dipping so as to obscure the better part of her button nose, and lower lip doing it's impression of a bird perch. That was before it got ugly.

My husband, out of patience with reasoning, bellowed "EAT THAT BEAN, OR I WILL HANG YOU UP BY YOUR TOES AND POSSIBLY FORCE YOU TO WEAR YOUR BROTHER'S HAND-ME-DOWNS IN PUBLIC!" (Okay, well he only said the "eat that bean" part, but I could tell he was thinking the rest of it. And we've been married a long time, so I know these things.)

Now, I'd like to stop right here and mention, so it is absolutely clear, that the bean in question measured approximately ¼" diameter by 1" length. This is something like 5 one-hundredths of a cubic inch of bean. Furthermore, it was anointed with kid-appropriate levels of salt and butter, and a pleasing shade of "steamed green." Are you with me?

My point being that the ensuing shriek, which cracked my water pitcher and quite possibly rendered our cat deaf for life, may have been a wee bit disproportionate, given the circumstances. Nevertheless, the tirade continued with such force and abandon, that we suspected it might set off our glass-breakage sensor on the burglar alarm. ("I'm sorry, officer. It was the bean that did it.")

Because we try to be good parents and read all the books, we knew that our best course of action was to carry on as usual, pretending to ignore the antics of our beloved anti-bean-ite daughter.

Dear Husband: "So, how was your day?"
Me: "What?"
DH: "I can't hear you!"
DH: "OH. "
Me: "Aw, Forget it."

Clearly, we should have torched those books YEARS ago. We were winging it. And, having made a crucial tactical parenting error by neglecting to learn sign language, with limited radio contact.

On she wailed, and we were reduced to communicating by voice snippets during the last 2 seconds of her fading breath, and one second of subsequent inhalation.

Abby! … … EAT! … … YOUR! … … BEAN! This brought on the dreaded "shriek modulation effect" caused by chair-bouncing. If you've ever believed that a really loud, high-pitched kid shriek couldn't possibly get *more annoying, let me assure you that you're wrong.

I could tell that my husband was losing brain cells at an alarming pace. Which was what probably prompted him to do what he did. It was awful. I never suspected that this gentle, compassionate man could act so desperately out of anger and pain, commit such a stupid act. Let his desire to abruptly clip the offending behavior override his highly civilized nature.

He grabbed the bean, and ate it.

Her saucer eyes registered his action, and her jaw plunged.

And then…it started…again…


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