I can eat an apple, but I won’t enjoy it.

I can eat an apple, but I won’t enjoy it. ~ Berta A.

Ever since childhood, Berta has not liked fruit. Not any kind of fruit. She recalls for me the first day of kindergarten (preschool?) as vividly as it was yesterday.  She is sent to school for it is time, but she doesn’t want to go, and cries till she is at the door of her classroom. At this point she wipes her eyes free of tears and asks her mother, “Can you tell I have been crying?”

“No,” says her mother, at which point Berta went into her classroom and that was the first and only time she ever cried over going to school.

When Berta’s mother picked her up at the end of the school day, she came home carrying an orange in a bag that Berta had not eaten at school.

The teacher sent the orange home with Berta’s mother after she refused to eat it with all the other children with some advice on what to do with the orange at home.  Berta’s mother was told by the teacher,  not to worry, if Berta was allowed to grow very, very hungry, and served the orange for dinner, she would eventually choose to eat the orange. The teacher was wrong. Berta refused to eat the orange at dinner, much to her mother’s dismay. Berta insisted, she did not like fruit.  She didn’t want to eat the orange or any fruit for that matter, for she had no desire to eat fruit.

Let me be clear: It wasn’t that she had food allergies, Berta simply knew she didn’t want to eat fruit.

The teacher planned to sample various fruits at school to introduce the children to them, one at a time, day by day. Berta planned to stand her ground at school and at home. And try as her mother and teacher might, Berta was clear that unless it was her idea, she would not be eating fruit–she didn’t like the taste of fruit and still doesn’t.

Berta was very young when this memorable incident happened. She had four other sisters and from the sound of it, a very happy childhood with a loving mother and father. And though her mother tried to follow the teacher’s advice, Berta ultimately was left in peace and not “expected” to eat fruit. To this day as the confident and accomplished 27 year old that she is, she doesn’t like or eat fruit if she can avoid it.

Berta was given the gift of being allowed to be herself in ways that extended to something as simple as eating fruit or not.  And from there she was allowed to choose other things for herself as her mother and father also guided her and her sisters to adulthood. The family is close to this day she tells me and everyone gets along and she is different from sisters. As I listen to her,  I am thinking that this early example of how she was allowed to be herself has made a big difference in how she lives her life now. And it may very well inform how she is a mother to her children when she has them.

I find this simple and vividly shared story a fascinating illustration of one’s Sense of Self expressing itself at a young age. In this instance that Self was allowed to be and was loved and accepted quirk in all.

I mean, what kids doesn’t like sweets and fruits?

Well, apparently some kids prefer savory over sweet. My own daughter would live on fruit if I allowed it, but she is also amenable to proteins and healthy carbs and has said absolutely NO to seafood that isn’t a fish stick for the time being.

I am confident that by not forcing anything on her, in time she will get curious and expand her palate, as I did eventually; and she like Berta will be herself at every age of her life as it is best, yes?


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