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September 27, 2004 - 9:37 am

EAT YOUR VEGETABLES

The Boy (age 5): I wish the whole world was made of milk and peanut butter & jelly...and a little bit of spinach with lemon sauce.

My kids have pretty good eating habits because when it comes to feeding children I have this theory: They won’t beg for Twinkies if you don’t give them Twinkies. When they were younger, their agonizing cries at bedtime of “I’m starving! My stomach hurts because I’m so hungry!” were met with, “I’m sure you are. Remember this feeling the next time I tell you that if you don’t eat what’s on your plate, you will be getting nothing else to eat until breakfast.” (Pretty decent mom impression, huh?) I’m a firm believer in self-preservation – if they are hungry enough, they will eat what you give them. And I can hold out longer than they can because I’m not hungry. I ate my dinner and I have earplugs to block out the crying.

The Girl: This lunch box is really heavy. What’d you put in here, mom?
Me: A brick.
The Boy: Mmmm. Bwiiiiicks.

I have good eating habits, too; I was even a vegetarian for about ten years. This was not due to any animal rights activism or anything like that. It happened sort of gradually, beginning when I was about eleven with a severely undercooked chicken breast ingested at Piccadilly with a friend’s parents and vomiting on them when I discovered what I had eaten. From there, I moved on to revulsion at the sight of sickly chickens with broken necks hanging out of the cages on a chicken truck I was driving past on the interstate. Who wants to eat that? And then there was that story my mom always told me about when she was little, growing up on a farm, and a chicken, freshly beheaded by a farm hand, chased her around the yard until she fell down and it ran right over her, sans head.

The Boy (looking at the chicken-broccoli casserole on his plate): There’s moss gwowing on the chicken.

Once I was a full-blown vegetarian the “Why are you a vegetarian?” discussion always irked me because that is never an innocent question. That guy is looking for a fight. So I learned to respond with, “I don’t like how meat tastes.” Even though it wasn’t necessarily true, it usually worked better than “None of your damn business. Fuck off, loser,” which just made them want to make love to me. Yawn.

I started eating meat one night a couple of years ago during that life altering phase in the fall of 2001 when I adopted Ben Franklin’s philosophy of “everything in moderation” (except for drinking and running, which I began completely abusing). I was at a cabin in north Georgia with some girlfriends for our yearly girls’ retreat/wine fest (which is just around the corner again!) when Wendy threw a New York Strip steak on the grill with my asparagus. One little bite and the rest was medium-rare history.

John has really enjoyed the change since I do most of the cooking and he had sort of become a part-time vegetarian by default until I reverted to omnivorousness. But the kids are still trying to catch on to the whole meat thing:

The Boy: This hot dog looks kinda like a sausage ‘cause of the lines on the end of it.
The Girl: Yeah. I think it’s in the sausage family.
The Boy: Kinda like turkey’s in the chicken and ham family.
The Girl: Turkey’s not in the ham family!
The Boy: Oh yeah. ‘Cause ham’s in the cow family, like
hamburgers.

~Samantha

recommended:
reading -Bitter with Baggage Seeks Same: The Life and Times of Some Chickens by Sloane Tanen and Stefan Hagen
viewing - Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
listening -"My Lean Baby" by Frank Sinatra

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