I don’t particularly like crunchy peanut butter, but that’s what we had in the pantry. Somebody
had purchased it, and had done so recently enough that the half eaten jar hadn’t deteriorated into
mold or whatever expired peanut butter turns into. I don’t know; I’m not sure I’ve bought any
since college. (Maybe once, to make homemade Snickers bars – a fiasco.)
Since my 3 year old daughter had been eating peanuts with her grandpa recently, and liked them,
I figured a crunchy peanut butter sandwich would be okay for lunch.
She’s three; you never know.
To prime the pump, I gave her some milk and some loose peanuts from a jar in the pantry. She
was excited about her little appetizer, so I shook the jar to make some noise, getting her
attention, and offered her a few more. She eagerly accepted. Then I set about making a sandwich
for her, with a healthy side dish – green beans. Those are not a favorite of hers. (Although
recently I have had some success getting her to eat more vegetables, when, if she pushes
something away, I protest and insist that it’s one of her favorites; she’ll give it a second chance,
and usually end up eating it. Go figure.)
As I placed her lunch in front of her, I made a big deal about the sandwich. “I have a surprise for
you!” I said. “Check out this special sandwich.”
She turned her nose up at it, but I walked away, thinking (hoping) that hunger and curiosity
would get the better of her eventually.
Distracted by her cartoons, she absent mindedly took a small, exploratory bite of the sandwich. I
watched from the kitchen counter. No real reaction. She’s had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
before, but really dislikes the jelly for some reason – to me that was always the best part.
Another small bite still yielded no reaction, but by now she had decided that she would actually
eat the sandwich, so I started pushing her to eat the green beans, which, to my amazement, she
At my prodding, she went back and forth: bite of green beans, bite of sandwich, bite of green
beans, bite of sandwich…
Then, a moment of realization.
“There’s something in my sandwich!” she said.
I played it up. “There sure is! It’s a surprise!”
She loves surprises. She looked at the sandwich for a moment, examining it closely. She had
learned to be suspicious ever since the pureed-carrots-mixed-into-the-Spaghettios incident.
“Peanuts!” she exclaimed, smiling. “There’s a peanut in there!”
“That’s right! Just for you!” I said.
“Wow! Thanks Dad!”
She took a big bite.
A moment later: “There’s another one! HIDDEN TREASURE!” she exclaimed, thinking I had
manually placed peanuts throughout her sandwich just to surprise her. The kid cracks me up.
“Surprise!” I replied. Sure, I let her think I put peanuts all through her sandwich. I get the blame
when she doesn’t like something; why not take the praise when it’s being offered?
Another moment later: “Dad! Another peanut!”
“Yep!” I said, and carrying through on the enthusiasm, “Now get a bite of green beans,” which,
to my further amazement, she did.
“Peanut!” came the report a few seconds later. Every few minutes we got an update of either
“Peanut!” or “More hidden treasure!” with a big smile.
Her status as The World’s Slowest Eater may be in jeopardy. I was thrilled that I was able to get
her to eat a simple lunch in under an hour, but I have to admit, it was a special feeling to know
she thought I purposely went through and put peanuts all through her sandwich for her.
To realize that she thinks I would do that for her, well, it sets a bar. I realized that she looks at
me as not just the guy who fixes lunch, but as somebody who goes out of his way to make things
special for her. We used to play Super Baby, and I would run around the house with her on my
shoulders, yelling “She can fly!” We would play Hide and Seek in the towels after a bath. If a
cake was being made in the kitchen, she was right in there with her white chef’s coat and hat –
an old Halloween costume – mixing flour and breaking eggs. My wife would dress her up in
little gardening gloves and a mini spade, and plant seeds in the garden together; then consider
sneaking out the next day and replacing the seeds with grown flowers and letting our daughter
It’s a crystallizing little moment when you recognize that your parents don’t just do stuff for you
as a kid, but that they go out of their way to make it special for you. I hadn’t put the peanuts in
there, but my daughter thought it was something I would have done. She would not be
disappointed when she learned the truth a few days later at lunch. Because she was right. I
probably would have done it, if I had thought of it.
And she had let me know that I hold a special status in her world. As parents, of course you do;
but your kids don’t often have a way to articulate that to you. I felt like mine just did.
Soon, the green beans and the sandwich were gone. Pretty successful lunch.
Turns out there was a little hidden treasure for both of us.
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