Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jackson who refused to eat vegetables. I know what you’re thinking: Yes, but ALL kids hate their vegetables. That may be true, but Jackson wasn’t like every other kid, he had done his research and ended up concluding the entire concept of a vegetable was extremely distasteful. The idea they came from dirt, the fact that you have to wash them, present them nicely, peel them, boil them, bake them, put sauce on them… his list went on. His parents had tried everything they could think of to try and get him to eat his vegetables, but it took a week-long visit from his grandma for Jackson to learn the truth: That vegetables give you superpowers.
The evening ritual went like this: The sun would go down, the table would be set, Jackson would sit in his usual spot, vegetables and other ‘foods’ would be served, Jackson would eat around his vegetables and then refuse to open his mouth. Threats of early bedtime, loss of play time and groundings would follow. And all threats would be followed through, but with no change in Jackson’s behaviour towards those disgustingly horrid ground foods. As far as Jackson was concerned, vegetables may as well have been poison. That is until his Grandma came to visit.
Although he didn’t see her very often, Jackson loved his Grandma and had always thought she was very wise. On the night she came to visit, the sun went down, the table was set, Jackson sat in his usual spot with his parents in theirs, and this time, Grandma sat at the end of the table. Dinner was served and, after eating some of his steak, the mouth closing and threats began. “Jackson, if you don’t eat those carrots, you will not be able to play with your toy cars for a week,” his parents threatened, despite the fact that they were running out of toys to take away from him. He stubbornly sat with his mouth tightly shut. After watching failed threat after failed threat, Grandma leaned over and whispered into Jackson’s ear.
“I will tell you a family secret,” she began. “Eating your carrots will give you night-vision.”
Jackson’s eyes widened. He stared at his Grandma, and his mother and father were confident they saw his jaw drop slightly. He slowly moved his eyes back towards the carrots on his plate and lifted one up to his mouth. His parents watched, worried that any sudden movements might distract him from what he was doing. Jackson put the carrot in his mouth, bit off one piece and began chewing. His parents covered their smiles with their hands as they watched Jackson put piece of carrot after piece of carrot in his mouth. That night, with praise and hugs, they put him to bed calmly.
Once his bedroom light went out, Jackson was nearly too excited to open his eyes to test the power of his newly acquired night vision skills. Eventually, he took a deep breath and opened his eyes. Amazing, Jackson thought. He could suddenly see all around him despite it being dark. He could see his cupboard and posters as clear as day. He could see his bed and his bedroom door and could even make out the loops on the carpet of his bedroom floor. Jackson wanted to put his skills to the real test. He quietly jumped out of bed and looked out his window to see what he could see in the darkness of night. The answer was everything. Jackson could see everything. In his world, darkness no longer existed. He started questioning how he was going to use his new superpowers. For now, though, he thought it best to keep his powers a secret between him and his grandma.
The following night, Jackson was sitting at the table before anyone else. Because of his new-found excitement of dinner, Jackson’s parents wanted to try their luck and serve him carrots and broccoli. The family sat at the table in their usual spots and Jackson finished his carrots quicker than anyone else. Before eating his broccoli, Jackson eagerly looked up at his grandmother. His grandmother leaned over and whispered in his ear, “These will give you the strength of 10,000 men.” Jackson couldn’t eat his broccoli quick enough and his parents watched on in shock as, for the first time, he finished his vegetables before anyone else. He went to bed without a fuss and, once the lights went out, he opened his eyes.
Thankfully, his night vision hadn’t worn off and he was able to see just as clearly as the night before. Jackson jumped out of bed and thought of a way to test his strength. He gathered up most of the smaller toys his parents hadn’t yet taken from him and wrapped them up using the mat in the middle of his bedroom floor. He took a deep breath and used his strength to lift them off the ground. To his surprise, Jackson was not only able to lift them off the ground, but he was able to swing them above his head like helicopter blades. He swung them around a few times just to be sure. One of the smaller toys flew out from the mat and hit his bedroom wall, forcing him to jump back into bed to trick his mum and dad into thinking he was still asleep when they came to check on him.
By the third night, everyone had accepted that there was now a new evening ritual and his parents excitedly served him carrots, broccoli and sweet potato. Jackson ate his carrots and broccoli without question and then leaned over to his Grandmother to hear about what powers the sweet potatoes might give you. Grandma leaned over and whispered, “These will give you the strength you need to keep your powers a secret until you are ready.” For a long while, Jackson stared at the sweet potato on his plate with disappointment. He then realised that he must follow the rules, or risk losing his powers forever. With a sigh, Jackson used his fork to bring the little orange pieces up to his mouth. He chewed and swallowed them slowly until they were gone.
For many years, Jackson kept his powers a secret. Having read multiple comics, he knew the risks of showing your secret abilities to the wrong people. It wasn’t until he had his own family that it felt right to speak of his powers again. As Jackson watched his own son struggle to eat his vegetables, he knew it was time to share his secret. He leaned over and whispered into his son’s ear.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.