See this kid here? Yeah, right up there with the blue eyes and easy smile. Dude's got issues. He's going through this phase lately where he harrumphs and announces rather menacingly that he's not eating dinner, doesn't like dinner and wants something else. So there. This new 'tude erupted out of the blue one night and he's been on a kick lately, doing this every few nights. We have no idea where it came from, the cause of it -- did he suffer a severe case of indigestion after a recent meal that aroused his anti-dinner antics? -- and when it's going to end. I wasn't home for dinner tonight due to being in Newport News working late on a story with another reporter about a 71-year-old woman who's been married at least 10 times, sometimes without the proper divorcing proceedings occurring before the ensuing marriage, and has left a slew of angry ex-husbands, not to mention she now faces charges of bigamy, perjury and theft. Look for the story in the paper soon.
Anyway, back to Ezra. Julie reported to me that he once again refused to eat dinner tonight. He stood there, lip thrust out, arms crossed and 100 percent attitude. So he got sent to a room until his attitude improved, with the warning not to dare come out until he was ready to grub or he was likely to have a cheeky encounter with Mr. Spoon. After a while, he made an appearance and slinked out of the room before eventually sitting at the table. He still refused to eat, however. Everyone else finished the chicken and rice casserole, the plates were cleared off the table, the kids who dutifully finished dinner headed off to play ... and there sat Ezra. He was relentless in his determination to show everyone that eating is a sign of weakness, the consuming of food the mere Achilles heel, or soft underbelly, or shortcoming of lesser 4-year-olds. Ezra was in for the long haul, his commitment evident in his steely glare. This fast was on!
Until, out of the corner of her eye as she busied herself in the kitchen, Julie thought she spied a fork lifted to a little boy's mouth ... could it be? Did Ezra just take a bite? She approached the stalwart young defender of the Principle of the Matter -- that principle being that sometimes a boy has to stand for something he believes in, that something being in this case the right to decide whether or not he need partake of the nightly sustenance. Did you just take a bite? queried Julie. The look on Ezra's face can only be described as scorn, as if to say, "How dare you even suggest I would lower myself to take a bite of dinner, demeaning the very essence of my being. You may as well dress me in a frilly pink tutu and curl my hair with curlers and have me prance around. I may be 4, but I have principle." She pressed him on the matter and his brow furrowed more deeply, the squint of his icy glare becoming more fierce. She urged him to open his mouth so she could see for herself whether he took a bite. He relented and slowly his lips parted, his jaw slackened and it was revealed at last the truth of the matter. Julie peered in his mouth. She saw rice. And chicken. "You did take a bite!" she gushed. "I knew I saw you!"
Ezra smiled. Then he proceeded to wolf down his chicken and rice as if he had not eaten even a tiny morsel all day. The storm had passed. The mysterious force that erupted in such sudden fury with extraordinarily severe consequences disappeared as suddenly as it had reared up. The sky cleared, the sun shone brightly, all was good again. In the end, only one small detail remained. It was the vexing question that haunts every parent, a mystery of untold depths that sometimes comes in staccato bursts, depending on the child and the circumstances and whatever else causes this cosmic behavioral quirk to burst forth like a supernova: What on earth was that all about?