I watched my son Gabriel hack and struggle through the greeny goodness of his broccoli the other day. He took a few moments to explain his ground rules for the vegetable.
"Mom says I have to eat the leaves, but I don't have eat the whole tree."
And true to his word, he was busily deforesting his forest of broccoli, chewing off the soft little leaves which comprised maybe a quarter of each broccoli stalk and leaving the huge fallen trunks to be thrown away.
In other words, my son only eats the part of the broccoli that I used to refer to as the "broccoli Afro". I do not use this designation any more because it is potentially offensive and because I'm terrified that one of my children will go to school and announce, "My dad says that I have to eat Afros because they're good for me."
Parents have interesting phobias.
I can't blame Gabriel for being cautious about vegetables. It turns out that everyone in the world has vegetable nemesis. Mine is beets. Put a plate of those purple bastards in front of me and I'll writhe and cry and possibly even throw up. And that's just from seeing them. I am constantly amazed that the only food really, really healthful for us is the food that no one really, deep down, likes eating.
While I considered this, I took Gabriel's forest of half-eaten broccoli trees down off the table and put them in the dog's dish. The dog came over for a second, sniffed the broccoli and gave me a look that said, "Sorry, dude, but I only eat the leaves."
It occurs to me that my dog will eat her own vomit, but she will not eat broccoli.
When I was young and wouldn't eat my beets, my grandmother used to talk about how much she liked vegetables, beets in particular.
She was lying.