The Daughter Chronicles: The Rice Battle

Bowl of white rice, photo credit Likeitiz

Bowl of white rice, photo credit Likeitiz

I remember arguing with my nanny and eventually my mother, about finishing the food on my plate. In the first place, my plate was prepared for me. I did not have a say on the quantity of food my nanny used to pile in front of me. We would argue back and forth. Then, I would reluctantly start to eat.  On some nights, our parents would be home early enough to join us for dinner. Or, if they were going out for dinner, my father would sometimes sit with us while he waited for my mother to finish dressing up.

My father would weigh in and admonish me that little girls who did not clean up their plates would end up with scarred faces from the ravages of acne and whatever else the disapproving gods dished out.

“Not a single grain of rice should be left on your plate if you want to have porcelain-like skin when you grow up,” my father would tell me.

“I hate the rice, Daddy!” To this, he would just shake his head, look at the nanny, signaling her to take over.

Or, I would be subjected to guilt trips about the millions of starving people in the slums or the rest of the world for that matter.

As young as I was, these sermons always annoyed me to no end. None of it made sense to me. I failed to see how a few mouthfuls of rice would alleviate world hunger.  As for my face, well, I was too young to care about my complexion then.

I argued to be allowed to serve myself persistently. By the time I was in grade school, my mother finally relented. I didn’t really need a nanny to follow me around either. I got my homework done before bed. I showered and made sure I was clean, even the back of my ears!

And so it was when we had a daughter, I would come home after a long day at work to a sad face. There she was, sitting in the kitchen in front of her plate. Her lips were slowly drooping to an inverted “U,” quivering. There was the threat of tears welling up on the large almond-shaped eyes. I sidled up beside her and gave her a hug.

“Now what? What’s wrong?”  I smiled reassuringly.

“I can’t finish this rice.” She said it slowly, trying to keep herself from crying.

Nanny interjected from behind the sink, “But I put barely half a cup!”

“I ate everything else, mommy!”

“How about just another mouthful. Maybe we can put some sauce on it?” I was trying to coax her.

“But, but, it tastes like nothing, mommy!” And there it was, the real reason!

This framed photo of daugther sits just beside my computer. She had given it to me with the post-it "Inspiration, priceless!" She was about five years old. Here she was seated at our kitchen having her evening meal, I think. See those cheeks? There must be rice tucked in them that she was struggling to swallow. We made peace with rice. We resolved to only eat what we can. I think we did that when she was three! photo credit Likeitiz

This framed photo of daughter sits just beside my computer. She had given it to me with the post-it “Inspiration, priceless!” attached. She was about five years old here. She was seated at our kitchen having her evening meal, I think. See those cheeks? There must be rice tucked in them that she was struggling to swallow. We made peace with rice. We resolved to only eat what we can. I think we did that when she was three! I hope it’s made a world of difference for her relationship with food.  photo credit Likeitiz

I admit, I could not argue, really, because I have always had the same abhorrence with rice. For an Asian, that is very unusual. It’s tantamount to the Irish renouncing their beer or the Indians their curry. I wonder, is it, could it possibly be inheritable?

We had resolved that she would get to fill her plate as long as she ate from each food group the prescribed daily allowance.

As parents we try our best to ensure our children receive proper nutrition. However, we should also be mindful that food can be a battleground. It can be weaponized! Any and all dysfunctions stemming from the subtle ins and outs of feeding, eating, and dining can and will result in long-term effects. Think of the perpetually orally fixated schoolmate who always needs to have something in his mouth, whatever he’s doing. Or the coworker who binges on chips and chocolates when she’s late for her deadlines or a breakup. Then she complains to you that she’s fat. The friend who orders triple and quadruple servings of food only to ask for most of it to be packed in take-out boxes. The sibling who bakes and bakes all sorts of goodies, gives it away and enjoys watching you eat her creation, but without eating a bite of it. Then there are the binger/pukers, the anorexics, the picas, and what-have-yous. You get the drift.

This entry was posted in Food, Food Preferences, growing up, mother-daughter relationship, Parenting, Rice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Daughter Chronicles: The Rice Battle

  1. yprior1 says:

    I liked your personal story that led into a very delicate topic. In fact, it was kinda brilliant how you did this – and the picture is adorable – with those cheeks! and I also love seeing people’s workspaces – even if just glimpses – it is very fun.

    anyhow, a few weeks ago I read on someone else’s blog where they were talking about how being forced to finish everything on the plate might also be connected to eating disorders. but the way he wrote about it was with other stuff that just was completely incomplete and the counselor side of me had tension. but I did not feel that here.

    In fact, that last paragraph is worth a reread because it shows your seasoning and doe snot even come across as a know it all – or as absolute… (hard to word what I am picking up)

    but like with this
    Any and all dysfunctions stemming from the subtle ins and outs of feeding, eating, and dining can and will result in long-term effects….

    sop you were not really saying in all cases it was front his – but noting that there can be and is still very real connections and very real long – term effects.
    and so I really enjoyed that.

    and on a side note – I have come to believe that eating disorders are also related to systemic infections that are undetected – like candida fueling a fix – parasites getting their nutrition first and so people keep eating because they are malnourished – or because of a clogged mucosa lining and eating the wrong foods for their blood type and muscle needs – – well folks feel like shit all the time and so eating is sometimes done because literally they are malnourished with ongoing malaise…. then of course their is the comfort of it – psychological escape of eating – but how much the too acidic of a diet to where craving certain things is to restore balance – or at least try to – and not too familiar with eating disorders – but I know in many areas like this – the individual has faulty thinking, poor coping skills, and a plethora of other probs….

    okay – enough from moi – but truly enjoyed this post – lovely picture – and one last thing – my fav is “dirty rice” – where rice gets fried with a misc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • likeitiz says:

      Hey, this is the first time I’ve heard the term “dirty rice” refer to fired rice with all sorts of stuff in it. I like it! I have to confess that fried rice is sometimes a prudent way (creative too!) to empty the fridge of little leftover this and that. Sometimes, we stumble on a really tasty discovery too!

      Thank you for your comments. Always sage! I have long ago learned that being judgmental will not get you very far. There are a lot of factors that contribute to eating disorders. The key is not to contribute to the right cocktail of circumstances, which, taken as a whole, are the stuff of DSM Criteria manuals.

      There are actual medical conditions that seem to provide fertile ground for eating dysfunctions but I have found that they are fueled by wrong or inadequate coping of parties involved. Like I said, the world of eating, which offers nutrition, sustenance, and also provides such exquisite pleasures, can be weaponized!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are certain foods from childhood that I don’t eat as an adult. We had them almost daily and it turned me against most beans and some pork. Thankfully I’ve replaced them with some acceptable foods. I’m counting on cocktail weenies being an acceptable food group. 😇

    Liked by 1 person

    • likeitiz says:

      Pork and beans. Yeah, those were staples way back when. Nowadays, beans are considered great sources of protein for the Vegans. There are a lot of fake meat made from it too! Like burgers and such. Who knew!


  3. auntyuta says:

    I very much enjoyed reading this post, Mary-Ann. It is strange how very young kids can get into a battle with food. I never forget how an uncle of mine, who had prepared a nice chicken dish for lunch, made me sit there for a long, long time. He said I was not allowed to get up before having eaten up. I just could not eat chicken. I was maybe five years old. I never managed to eat chicken. I still don’t. But plain rice I do like, I like it very much! 🙂


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