Stephen's Box

My family eats dinner together almost every night. We hold hands for a minute first. I take turns with my sister, Ellie, saying a prayer. God is great. God is good. We thank you, God, for our food. By your hands we all are fed. Amen. Then we serve the food. Ellie and I have to take one taste of everything, even if it's squash or cream of carrot soup. Even if it's asparagus! 

One night, just as Dad set a bowl of Brussels sprouts in front of me, I thought of an important question. Too important to bother with the problem of having to eat food that looks like a lot of little shrunken heads. I gave the bowl a push away.

"Does God have spotty hands and knobby fingers, like a really old person," I asked, "or are God's hands fat and dimpled, like Mrs. Overton's? She's old, too." Mr. and Mrs. Overton are our neighbors. They have grandchildren who live in another part of the country and hardly ever get to visit. 

"Stephen, please take one Brussels sprout. One is not a lot," Mom said. She thinks everyone, even our dog, Stubby, should eat a mountain of vegetables. But Stubby likes them. I guess if all I had to eat was dry food, I might be hungry enough to eat them, too. I took a Brussels sprout out of the bowl and cut off a very tiny piece. I swallowed it whole with my milk, like a pill. 

"That's not tasting it," Mom said. "Do we have to do through this every night? If you don't at least try different foods, you won't ever want to eat anything good for you. You can't live on cookies and potato chips."

"Yes, I could. In reading, we read a true story about a man and his dog who got shipwrecked and lived on raw clams he scrapped off of rocks."

"Did the book show a picture of him?" Dad asked. "I'll bet he looked pretty scrawny."

"He looked better than if he ate Brussels sprouts," I said....