Friday, October 17, 2014

A Referendum on Parenting — AKA Dinnertime

Yes, we all know that diet is an important part of life.

Too much of a good thing often means too much of "you" thing. The results of this arrangement are loosened belts, discomfort whilst bending to tie one's shoes, more frequent donning of "comfortable clothes" and heaping helpings of my favorite side dish, self loathing. 

Naturally, it's a different set of worries for your child. 

The stakes are higher. You want every nutrient, vitamin and mineral known to man crammed into every spoonful and you want them to wash it down with some gluten-free, carb-free, anti-oxidant-saturated, rejuvenating, heretofore-never-imagined power shake.

And this — all of this — must happen while simultaneously ensuring that no pesticides, herbicides, preservatives or dyes make it into their food, lest they grow to become mental midgets with the attention span of your average inbred dachshund (AKA the wiener dog).

I take solace that even less-than-healthy dinners can double
as history lessons for the boy. To wit: "Let me tell you the
exciting — and savory — history of General Tso."
As I've mentioned before in this space, the boy has had some favorite foods. He loved eggs. Now, not so much. Ditto for cottage cheese. And bananas are now occupying a precarious space between indifference and annoyance.  

Fortunately, there've been a few staples emerge like chocolate milk and Kit Kat. Unfortunately, these won't suffice and would likely result in the aforementioned kid/wiener dog scenario. 

So we take special note of what they eat which, in my house, means taking special note of my wife's efforts to get every, single meal, just right. This effort is invariably bookended by her lamentations that she didn't do enough. 

"Do you think this is alright?" is a well-worn refrain from Mrs. Blackwell regarding the boy's meals. 

Just as tried and true is my usual response: "No. No it's not! Now get back to work and make something different!"

So, we parents go to these lengths for our kid and what do we parents eat? 

Mrs. Blackwell and I start by trying to eat at the dinner table together just as we all try to eat the same meal, though the boy's is often a variation on ours, adjusted for spices etc. 

All of those smiles aren't for him. That said,
this was his meal. Not Pictured: Hershey's
Syrup and king-size Kit Kat.
Timing being what it is, this doesn't always work and we find ourselves cobbling together what we can, when we can. Which brings me to last night when, as my wife assembled my son's organic feast, I ate:

a bowl of leftover pumpkin chili (Good.)
a big chunk of jalapeño cheese (Bad. It was really big)
several handfuls of rippled potato chips (Sooo very, very good. Yet soo very, very bad.)
a spoonful of sour cream (This happened and we're not talking about it further.)
two bowls of Apple Jacks (See sour cream explanation.)

About 18 inches away from me, the boy enjoyed organic chicken nuggets, little potato smiles, grapes, carrots and a serving of shredded cheddar cheese. And this was a meal Mrs. Blackwell put together on the fly, the least elaborate meal he'll eat this month. 

It's a great thing to give your kid the best, though sometimes we are forced to hew closer to giving them what's fastest. You do your best and sometimes time doesn't allow for the ideal. That's life, right? 

This rhetorical question makes me feel much better for those times when I — with a startling lack of imagination — find myself taking the boy for Chinese food or just whipping up a glass of chocolate milk and, maybe later on, a Kit Kat. 

I suppose that your kid's overall diet is a reflection of many things and worthy of discerning trends and calculating overall adequacy. But one meal is most definitely not. If it was, I have no earthly idea what last evening's dinner would say about me. 

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