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…)