Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Help me out, Hive Mind. The video below is basically my son right now. At the ripe old age of 6, he has doubled down on his previously feeble moral objections to eating meat. Correction: He has doubled down on his moral objections to eating meat that looks/tastes like meat. He "feels bad for the little chicken/cow/pig" when he is reminded of it's existence before it became dinner. As long as the helpless little creature is camouflaged, it's all good. Ground beef is okay (tacos/burgers). Chicken nuggets are fine (as he argues, "They're probably not even made with chicken anyway," and he may be right.) Pepperoni on pizza, bring it on. So basically if he wants to become the poster child for the childhood obesity epidemic, he's golden.

We just recently came clean to the kids that I am not, in fact, "allergic" to meat. Rather, I choose not to eat it and have abstained for the last twenty-some-odd years. So I can't in good conscience make the kid eat meat. I get where he's coming from. I had the same struggles when I was a kid (though I'd like to think I was a lot less of a g.d. drama queen about it, good lord), which started around the time my little sister was old enough to ask "Mom, what is pork made out of? Cute little baby piglets?" etc. (She would then smile and me and dig gleefully into her cute tiny baby piglet-chop, consuming it with relish.) I attempted to declare myself a vegetarian around the age of 8, and about every 6 months thereafter, but my mom said I had to eat meat until I could plan and prepare healthy meals containing all essential nutrients. I stopped eating red meat at 13 and white meat a year later.

The thing is, my kid won't eat fake-meat either. He hates tofu, seitan, tempeh, etc. He doesn't like eggs. He doens't like most beans or legumes. He doesn't like eggplant or mushrooms (can't blame him there either, those are the devil's slimy leftovers). He will happily eat the junk food noted above, as well as fruit, raw vegetables, salad, and carbohydrates. That's about it. Oh and he drinks a lot of milk. (As the world's worst vegetarian, I may not be the best role model.)

I've read a lot of articles about how, contrary to the wisdom of our parents' generation, you're not supposed to force kids to "clean their plates," or have those dinnertime battles with kids at all, lest we instill a negative relationship with healthy eating. (Side note - funny how one of my hallmarks of successful parenting - before I had children, obviously - was eating dinner together as a family. But it is actually the most arduous, painful, and least favorite part of my day.) Anyway, if we let him have his way, he will survive on bread/pasta/fruit/vegetables and take out at least until he is 18 years old. Will that result in him being a skinny, malnourished little shrimp with brittle bones? And if so, what am I supposed to do about it? Sit at the dinner table for all of eternity, trying to force him to eat until everyone's in tears? Get better about hiding furry little animal bits in his food? Ugh. Help!


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