The Quest for Zest

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"Quest for Zest" by Jake Frost (CatholicMom.com)

By National Photo Company Collection – Library of Congress Catalog: Public Domain, Link

My life is a Quest for Zest. I’m constantly fighting the Battle of Boredom, struggling to push back the Frontiers of Funk, seeking to dispel the Dolorous Doldrums, searching for a zig instead of a zag to break-up the same-old, same-old with a surprise move that’s bold.

But it’s tough.

Just consider The Menu. Each week I wrack my brain trying to devise a meal plan that will both nourish and delight my ravenous, growing brood. But trying to hit the sweet spot is harder than pitching the bean bag through the hole in Corn Hole. On the one hand, the kids are averse to anything new or different. On the other hand, sometimes there reaches me the whispered rumor of a query that goes something like: “Why do we always have the same old things?”

So that’s what I have to aim for: something different, but the same.

Tricky.

So I try to mix it up. One week it will be tacos. The next I’ll leave the hard shells on the pantry shelf and we’ll go with taco salad: sliced, diced, greened, and beaned. Then, before taco salad has a chance to wear thin as a leaf of iceberg lettuce we’ll switch to … wait or it … soft shells!

They didn’t see that one coming!

I’m just trying to stay light on my feet, to keep bobbing and weaving, to keep it fresh for progeny and parents alike.

Well, in my constant Quest for Zest I stumbled on a real gem last week. You see, it’s not just with the taste buds and bellies that variety can prove a virtue, but also with ears and behavioral modifications. I won’t go into specifics, I’ll just throw out there that on occasion, at least so I have been told, five and six year-olds can develop means of expressing their displeasure at the perceived injustices of the world with certain contorted aspects of visage that are not entirely acceptable in all circles of polite society. To cut through the circumlocutions and state it frankly: pouting is frowned upon in our household.

But what to do when, perhaps, it has already been mentioned once or twice that pouting is impermissible, and so now saying it again has very little probability of piercing the Great Cloud of Unhearing, engendered by excessive repetition, to actually reach into the psyche of the intended recipient with this much needed and yet unheeded message?

At a critical moment when this very dilemma suddenly burst into full vexation, inspiration struck, and suddenly the Muse, speaking through my lips, uttered these words:

If you make your face into a fish
Every time you don’t get your wish
By turning your mouth upside down
Into a scowling, poutish frown
Remember, fish get snagged on a hook and line
And dragged out of the water on a twisting twine.
So beware if you make a fish out of your face
Or you may end up in a dangling place.

It worked! Perhaps due to utter surprise, but for whatever reason, it caused a certain six-year-old of my acquaintance to abandon his fish face and — for a glittering moment at least, and in spite of himself — to smile.

So I offer this little ditty to you in hopes that if you ever have need it may prove equally as efficacious in your own domestic abode.

Good luck!


Copyright 2019 Jake Frost

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About Author

Jake Frost is the author of The Happy Jar, (a children’s picture book), Catholic Dad, (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family and Fatherhood to Encourage and Inspire, and a book of poetry, From Dust to Stars. He is a lawyer in hiatus, having temporarily traded depositions for diapers and court rooms for kitchens to care for his young 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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