The Broccoli Dance

By Susanna Solomon

Photo by Lydia Selk


When my daughter and her young children moved in a few months ago, I was none too pleased. Third house guests in less than a year. Nine months before I’d housed my stepdaughter, which didn’t work out too well, and after that my son moved in, and he could barely talk to me without yelling. So when my daughter proposed to move into my now pristine downstairs, I was not happy at all.

“I’m not good at this,” I begged off. But she was getting a divorce, and who was I to throw her and my grandchildren out into the street?  So away went my sewing room, and in came three beds, mountains and mountains of clothing, toys, dresses, televisions, more clothes, and bicycles, while my son stopped by and dropped off tons of his own stuff. I felt like I was drowning.

My utility bills have gone up. My sewing room has become a tiny corner of the downstairs. My projects are stalled. But me, I’ve come to some new understanding of people, of myself, and of stuff that seems to flow into my house and never go away.

So, now I have smaller bicycles, but more of them. Two small people in the house, two small blond kids, three and five, cute as buttons, who clamber after their mother like puppies needing attention. If I didn’t work at home, I suppose it would be easier. (Nana, let’s go for a walk in the rain. Nana, can you fix the hole in my socks? Nana, can you get me a pen? Oops, I’m sorry I scribbled on your papers, clothes, towels, walls.) I pick up after them all the time.

We have come to some agreement, my daughter Alissa and I. At least she tries, and that is a comfort.

Sometimes she lets me have some of her homemade pie, or gingerbread men. Sometimes she lets me take the kids to school. (Not that entrance, the one by Piper Ave. Can you figure it out or should I come? Mom? Don’t forget his jacket and lunch. Mom? Are you listening to me?) As if I never raised children of my own.

But my favorite times, are when she’s in the kitchen, trying to get the kids to eat.

“Do the broccoli dance, Mom,” little M. asks, all of three, her bright blue eyes open wide, the back of her head a rat’s nest of blond hair, stiff and knotted from sleeping.

“I’ll do the dance if you eat some broccoli,” Alissa says, starting the negotiation.

M. looks at her, at the flowerette of broccoli on her plate. A picky eater, she can go through a whole day without a meal.

Alissa says “Okay,” and stands back from the table. My grandson O., at five, chews on his broccoli and watches them carefully.

My daughter, at 37, a hotshot, a CPA, and independent woman on her own since the age of 21, saddled with a soon to be ex-husband, two cranky kids, a nervous stomach and intense headaches, starts to wiggle, her arms over her head.

I watch, sit on the kitchen stool, knowing better than to ever interfere with how she raises her kids.

She turns, waves her arms over hear head, jerks her hips back and forth, and swings.

The broccoli flowerette is lifted from the table. M. studies it.

My daughter stares, stops.

“Keep going, Mom,” M. says and starts chewing.

My daughter dances, a grin across her face, as her hips gyrate. My grandson O. giggles. M. chews her broccoli and down it goes. I sit on the stool, amazed.

One more broccoli flowerette down, one more dance, smiling blondies under a bright kitchen light, sunlight streaming through the window, the sound of a radio soft in the distance, as the sun passes from window to window. An old story, a mother intent on getting her children to eat, a child wanting to be entertained, a reluctant grandmother sharing her home. A day like no other, a day to cherish, a day to dance the broccoli dance.


Susanna Solomon makes her second appearance in HS Radio with The Broccoli Dance. To read her previous piece for us, click here. She is working on her first novel, “Montana Sky.”


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