The Secret Life of Broccoli


Every week, I load up all the kids for our regular trek to re-provision the family. And there is one moment in our expedition that I always look forward to: the time when my three-year-old starts to wheedle.

I relish that moment. And I’m not even being facetious.

Because what he asks for, every time, and very earnestly, with all the sweetness and plaintive pathos that only a three-year-old can evoke, is . . . broccoli.

I kid you not.

We’ll be in the produce section, pushing our way past piles of parsley and pyramids of parsnips, when he will pipe up in his sweet little voice: “Dad, there is one thing I really want. Can you please, please, please get me . . .”

About this time I’ll notice other shoppers around us stiffening as they brace themselves for the spectacle they fear is about to be visited upon them. But they are in for a surprise, for the next words he utters are:

“. . . some broccoli. I really need some broccoli. Please.”


And then you can practically feel the breeze from the heads whipping around to stare at this child, this prodigy paragon of leafy, beta-carotene-rich consumption.

That’s when I smile. My moment has arrived.

I grandly proclaim, with great magnanimity:

“Yes son, you can have broccoli. Why, if my son wants broccoli, then by gum, broccoli he shall have.”

With a broad, indulgent smile, I rip off one of those plastic produce bags and loudly snap it open before dramatically plopping in the treasured vegetable.

Turning to my son, I proffer the florets with a flourish, asking, “Would you like to carry your own broccoli, son?”

“Yes, please,” he answers, beaming with delight as I pass over the produce.

Then I nod to the assembled spectators before pushing on, and as I perambulate I permit just the faintest hint of swagger to enter my grocery cart sashay, just to let them know that that’s how we roll: with green cuisine.

It happens every time we go to the store, and never fails to impress random passers-by. But, while it transpires exactly as I’ve described, in actuality not everything is as it seems. For in truth my son does not harbor any particularly deep devotion to dietary roots (or branches, or stalks, or trunks, or whatever broccoli is). Despite appearances, he doesn’t eat veggies by the bunch for breakfast and lunch.

No. He hungers for broccoli not for any digestive designs, but solely for schemes topiary. You see, he uses the broccoli for trees when he plays with his trains.

So, while it looks good in the grocery store, at home it looks . . . Well, actually, it still looks pretty good. Turns out broccoli makes great trees for miniature trains. And he thought of it on his own, creating his first broccoli arboretum on the playroom floor entirely on his own initiative, building his first floret forest with broccoli from the fridge that had been destined for dinner. It was only after that I started buying him his own vegetable allotments earmarked specifically for his non-culinary horticultural pursuits. So it still looks good at home—but different.

Which is how our world often is: things can be quite different than they appear. I have to remind myself of this when I’ve been reading too much news. The more you follow the news, the worse it looks. But in the Gospels Jesus told us:

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jn 16, 33.

Jesus never said that things would be easy. What He promised is that He would be with us. Mt 28, 20 (“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”). But with Jesus, no matter how bad things get, in the end, we win—because He has already won. So if we can stick with Jesus, ultimately all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

Copyright 2016 Jake Frost
Image: copyright 2016 Jake Frost.


About Author

Jake Frost is the author of Catholic Dad, (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family and Fatherhood to Encourage and Inspire , also available as a $0.99 e-book on Amazon. He is a lawyer in hiatus, having temporarily traded depositions for diapers and court rooms for kitchens to care for his pre-school aged children. He comes from a large family in a small town of the Midwest, and lives near the Mississippi River with his wife and kids.

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