Throat cramming a necessary activity

One thing I distinctly remember about being a kid was resenting my parents’ continually cramming things down my throat. Ranging from vegetables, to medications, to homework, chores, musical instrument practicing and religion, they seemed always to be forcing something down my gullet.

With more than two decades separating me from my parents’ oppressive rules, my worst nightmares still have me held hostage by liver and beet brandishing bandits who shout, “Eat these, they’re good for you. You’ll need your strength to cut those thistles.”

Was any of it necessary? More importantly, how much of it stuck? Let’s see: I eat broccoli for breakfast, graduated from college, never missed a birth control pill, still perform chores with little complaint, play piano for hire, and faithfully say my prayers.

My kids cannot possibly understand the force of legacy they’re up against. But I firmly grasp the importance of priming the pump of their futures by insisting they act in their best interest today. And if that calls for a little throat cramming, well, may the force be with me.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun . . . . ” I sing, hoping I’ve come close to Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins, or an updated, spoonful of sugar substitute persona.

Next I impersonate Julie as Maria Von Trapp with raindrops on roses charm. But my kids refuse bright copper kettle polishing and warm woolen mitten wearing. Cream-colored pony poop cleanup also meets with resistance. Not a few of their favorite things.

The moviemakers had to cut the footage of Julie’s characters forcing medication down the throats of her young charges. It would be hard to swallow watching a skirt-clad nun or nanny, however magical or musical, lose her cool, take down and then forcibly straddle a child to administer a healthy dose of cod liver oil.

But moms from Austria, to England, to America are familiar with similar. Motherhood skirmishes are fought not on major battlefields, but in daily power struggles. No matter how well you pick your battles, the war still rages, along with your outrage the mom role forces you into the “this is for your own good” behavior you hated with your own mom.

If it weren’t already hard enough to be cramming things down your kids’ throats, the requirement extends to your pets. I know this from the vet recently prescribing liquid antibiotics and eye drops for our cat’s lingering upper respiratory infection.

I tried to wait it out, hoping for a spontaneous healing like the ones experienced by my car the day before a scheduled tune-up. But unlike my car, there was no radio to turn up to tune out the cat’s wheezing. Plus, her runny, eggs-over-easy-looking eyes were making the rest of us sick.

So in addition to cramming spelling words, manners, breakfast, and vitamins into my kids’ heads each morning, I also get to round up the cat, swaddle her claws in an old towel, and ram an eye dropper full of amoxicillin down her throat, followed by a couple of medicated drops into her eyes.

My pet popularity further increases with our 14-year-old dog, as I chop in half and force-feed her incontinence-correcting pills. Not the optimum way to start a day, that’s for sure. So thank goodness I’m not still doctoring Rosie the rooster.

Back before Rosie departed this world and the company of our family, presumably in the jaws of some predatory animal, I had found myself cutting antibiotic tablets into small pieces and inserting them into raisins to trick him into eating.

I can be pretty persuasive, but Rosie did not suffer pharmaceutical fraud lightly. His eagle eyes expertly spotted and avoided the Trojan horse raisins in each handful, which forced me for better concealment to buy premium, jumbo raisins. You know, the kind too expensive to consider giving my kids as a special treat – even on birthdays.

“Don’t eat the rooster’s raisins,” I’d threaten them out of one side of my mouth, while cooing from the other, “C’mon, Rosie. Eat these for your own good.” Unlike my kids, Rosie actually believed me. Let’s hope it never quite registers with them where that got him.


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