Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food Police

The morning after my son's first sleepover at a friend's house, the phone rang. Expecting a report of how little sleep they got or a suggested time for picking him up, I was greeted instead with an accusatory tone:

"What are you doing to your son??"


"What? Why?!?"

"I just offered your son chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and he said to me, 'no thank you. I'm not allowed to have candy for breakfast.' What are you teaching him? You are depriving this poor child of his childhood!"

Oops. Of course, her accusation was said in jest, though I could absolutely see Jacob giving that answer and asking for a bagel instead. And I understand why he made the leap from 'no candy for breakfast' to 'no pancakes with candy in them for breakfast.' But what if my friend was right? What if I was being maniacal about the food thing, to the detriment of my son's childhood joy?

It's probably worth mentioning here that I also don't let my kids eat raw cookie dough. I know, I know, it's amazingly, wonderfully delicious and some would even say a necessary part of childhood. But the raw eggs! E. Coli! My little brain has tremendous trouble justifying the risk. Isn't it better to just let them have an extra, baked cookie when they're done?

The most ridiculous part of all of this is that I grew up watching my father eat a raw egg every day (for health), and I personally consumed countless pounds of raw, ground lamb as a child. This was a standard appetizer in my house, just as it had been a regular dish in my grandparents' homeland. Thankfully, I never got sick. I grew up, learned how to read scientific information that taught me the dangers of such "foolhardy behavior" (read: previously normal behavior), and changed my ways. If my kids were going to get violently ill with nausea, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, it wasn't going to be because of me.

Granted, ignorance is bliss. My kids were very happy even before knowing about chocolate chip pancakes. But at the same time, I still remember going to a friend's house as a middle-schooler and eating bagels with lox and cream cheese. In my Armenian/Irish/English household, this was something that had never graced our table. (I'm pretty sure my Jewish friend had never eaten raw lamb either, come to think of it.) I went home and asked my mother if she would buy some bagels and lox. She didn't even know what it was, let alone where to get it. Needless to say, it was never served in my house. Instead, I was forced to get over my disappointment and befriend more Jews so I could get my fix at their houses.

The point is, just like in real life, our culinary lives are a journey. Start here. Travel there. Land somewhere in between. Just because we've never done things a certain way doesn't make it bad, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't give it a try to see how we like it.

Once I got past my bruised ego, I was OK with the chocolate chip pancake thing. In fact, I felt so magnanimous one day that I offered to make them for my son.

"No thanks," he replied. "They're too sweet."

In the end, things may work themselves out after all.

1 comment:

Snowbrush said...

The trials of parenthood are something I've never had to face, and I have the greatest respect for the way you handle them.