More mushrooms please, Col begs, his open mouth looming over a steaming pot of elk stew.
I spoon another slimy slab of porcini mushroom in his baby bird face, suppressing my own gag reflex at the wild fungi that could have been a rubber shoe I had sliced and simmered.
Just yesterday, if you had asked, I would have told you that Col, 5, was a picky eater. Hes offended by the mere smell of bananas, the go-to, blood-sugar-raising trick every mother has had tucked up her sleeve since her first born sprouted a single tooth.
This fall weve made plum butter, peach jam and chokecherry jelly, and when I rattle off the menu of possible toppings for his toast, Col asks, somewhat apologetically, for just plain.
Sure honey, I say, handing him the loneliest piece of bread, wondering if hell scrape the raspberry filling off his own wedding cake someday.
But this so-called picky eater greets chard, broccoli and bouquets of salad without raising an eyebrow. He recently was spotted out of the corner of a surprised mamas eye perched in his booster requesting more roasted beets and Brussels sprouts. It seems the label picky eater is as worn out as the sandals Col wore every day this summer.
If asked to describe my daughter, Rose, Id tell you that living with her is like having our very own Disney princess on site. She makes dramatic entrances, throwing her door open and wobbling around on her ankle-twister heels while a pound of necklaces swing from her neck. But she also climbs rocks barefoot, shoots a bow with no help, wrangles flapping chickens and has held a wild snake at Brookside Park.
Being a parent means revising your stories about your children as often as a writer with a nitpicking editor and letting labels fall through your hands like aspen leaves tumbling through the wind.
Both these kids have been great sleepers, except for those times when they were terrible sleepers. Ive sung the boastful symphony of a mother whose daughter ate steamed spinach at 6 months old, only to watch that same daughter at 3 dredge her dinner bowl for errant and offensive pieces of broccoli.
Just recently, Dan and I sadly surrendered the battle to get Rose to sit down for dinner with us. And then some mysterious electrical impulse in Roses brain traveled a slightly different neurological pathway one afternoon, and now she joins us for dinner every night as if not doing so would be to miss out on something fabulous, like broccoli.
Children are geniuses at reinventing themselves, peeling back another layer of yesterday and stepping freshly into the present moment. Im usually still 10 steps behind explaining to someone Rose is very shy and clingy as she takes off up the trail, running and never looks back.
Stay alert and loose, Rose seems to say as her little figure sashays through the Technicolor autumn foliage that is reinventing itself, becoming winter.
Read Rachel Turiels blog, Growing children at 6512 feet, at http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.