“Don’t teach my kid to use spreadsheets, I want him to eat his vegetables COOKED.”


June 8, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker

I am plagued by kids who want to eat frozen vegetables. I have this vision of our family sitting down to dinner together with the holy trinity of meat, potato, and veggie, asking each other about their day and sharing love and insight. What I have is a family whose butts touch the chair so briefly that it appears that the seat is covered with hot coals before they leap up to argue with the food as presented. "I hate ____ (anything that isn't bread)" Anthony invariably declares, followed by "Why can't I eat frozen vegetables?" They tell you not to debate with your kids about what's for dinner, but "they" haven't met my kids.

David used to, I KID YOU NOT look up the nutritional values of various foods and present me with a spreadsheet showing why he should be allowed to eat what he wanted. Since what he wanted to eat was mostly Kool-Aid and french fries, this wasn't so effective… But I won't have such luck with the frozen-peas-and-carrots crowd.

Also, Eric wants to know if the meat was ethically raised and slaughtered. And, of course, why I can never seem to remember that the doctor said he can't have anything with dairy in it.

My problem isn't that I'm unwilling to lay down the law. My problem is that the law I'm trying to lay down is stupid, and I know it. Why can't they have frozen vegetables instead of cooked? There's no good reason, except that all those photos of happy families imprinted in my brain involve COOKED vegetables. COOKED!

It's funny how much sway these gut feelings have on us. It's why walking into a room of kids happily reading books and comics to themselves feels homey and happy, and why walking into a room of those same kids reading the same books on iPads and cell phone screens feels like Technology is Killing us ALL. And it's why I feel proud when I read to my kids from Harry Potter, and guilty when I throw on the exact same audio book for all of us to listen to.

We do it to ourselves, too. Lately, there's this plant in our city that has been growing in everyone's lawn, and all my pesticide-free friends are out there all day digging it up. Except me. I am pesticide free too, but not in the way that convinces other people that it is a good idea. Our lawn is pesticide free in a "before picture" kind of way.

Lawn is a bit of an exaggeration. It's usually a big brown patch. Except this year, when this beautiful green leafy plant has taken over.

"That's a weed." My friend from the environmentalist society says. Apparently, I am supposed to dig it up. Everybody is digging theirs up because if you don't… it spreads.

"So?" says me.

"You'll have to use pesticides." she says. **

"Not really," says me.

"Your neighbours will be mad." she says. Which would be a winning point, except we have no neighbours. They both moved away, on either side. True story. No causal link to us, though, I maintain.

How much time is wasted, in each generation, pursuing the ideals that were held up when they were kids? A "good" lawn, a "wholesome" way to pass the time, a "proper" meal… We need to make our own Norman Rockwell paintings in our minds' eye, featuring the things we love, the things that are nurturing and healthy for our families today.

What would be your family's Normal Rockwell painting? A moment of happiness and wholesomeness that you'll look back on and grin broadly? What is your "sitting in the sunshine on a canopy of beautiful weeds listening to Harry Potter and eating frozen carrots" moment? I would like to say "what will your kids look back on" but the truth is, who knows? I have grown kids, too, and their Normal Rockwell moments are not the same as my Norman Rockwell moments.

"Wasn't it fun that time we moved rocks with your Dad?"

"I loved that time that Dad wrecked that guy's boat."

"Remember when I asked how many pickles I could have and you said as many as I wanted and then I ate three jars?"

"Remember how when we saw the first fruit truck of summer we would pull over and buy all that fruit and it would be Fruit Festival Day and we would eat nothing but fruit for 24 hours? And after that we'd have Stay Close To The House Day?"

You never know what will become immortal.

**(editorial note:  Oops.  This comment from Friend From the Environmental Society was meant as a "watch out or you'll end up in a tough spot", not a "you should use pesticides… ever".  Always good to be clear, especially when it turns out that Friends From the Environmental Society read this blog…)

7 thoughts on ““Don’t teach my kid to use spreadsheets, I want him to eat his vegetables COOKED.”

  1. A good distribution of NRMs amongst your family is probably way more important than that you share the same ones. Of course, it would be way more efficient if everyone had the same ones, but you can’t always get what you want.

  2. Allyson says:

    as one of your friends from the evironmental society, I am very certain you were not advised to use pesticides, ms. exagerator pants.

  3. Taran says:

    This reminds me of an anthology my grandmother has of Macleans magazine editorial articles spanning the 20th century—in particular, one from the 30s (I think) bemoaning the deleterious effect on our children of the game of marbles. (Which encouraged betting, playing for “keeps”, jealousy, and host of other undesirable traits).
    Robn was recently advised by his GI specialist to avoid raw vegetables (he’s been having GI issues) and zomg it totally gutted our vegetable intake. Salad was probably half the vegetables we ate as a family, with raw munchies a further 25%. >_<
    Also, I'm really hoping audiobooks count as books. Because Domini tore through the whole Harry Potter series (and Hunger Games about five times so far) on audiobook, while it still takes her months to struggle through a novel in paper. She likes reading on the iPad, too, because she can crank the text-size up so the lines are really short, which makes it easier for her to follow. Ah, the joys of amending your expectations.
    (I can't help but feel I should be less frustrated by my kids' academic issues, since they both eat really, really well. You should've heard how excited they were about the broccoli we had last night. Cooked broccoli, mind. 🙂 )

  4. Liz says:

    I remember vacationing once in a resort owned by Europeans, and reading a poorly translated sign near the dining hall that said something along the lines of “for the good of your health, we remind you that it is best not to eat excess of raw vegetables or cold water”. I thought that what was considered “healthy” food was way more universal than that…

  5. Yay! Down with lawns! I can feel an uprising of free-thinkers about to reach critical mass and blow the top off this stupid cultural norm. The tipping point will be reached any day now. Any day…

  6. Wendy says:

    Unsurprisingly, I am going to come down on the no “free range” child food choice side. Kids who eat a wide variety of foods as children are better adult eaters when they choose, as we do “learn to like” things if we have to keep trying them as we grow. Also, fresh veggies are the world’s superfoods. Great nutrients, low footprint, low energy in prep. You can grow them where you aren’t growing lawn and it is even better.

  7. Sandi James says:

    Leaning over and pulling the odd weed is good for your abs; pulling too many weeds could be tiring though; wouldn’t want to risk overdoing it. uhm

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