If you donít finish your kelp, you canít have any acidophilus!
By Kelley Cunningham
They have lots of instructions for playdates too. ďPlease donít give little Logan any juice because juice stunts growth, no gluten because he has Onomatopoeia, and keep in mind he may not eat your grape jelly because heís used to homemade.Ē
Hmmm. Guess what Logan does when heís at my house? Scarfs store-brand sandwich cookies while zoning out on Bugs Bunny. Secretly, I enjoy this. Have some more processed nuggets, Little Lord Fauntleroy.
I would admire these mothersí good intentions if only they would keep their superiority to themselves. But when they roll their eyes at the moms who could only manage to bring in Oreos for the pre-school snack I get an urge to shove some hydrogenated Cool-Whip into their gobs.
One would expect their children to have an aura of sparkling healthiness about them. The light reflecting off their childrenís "Tomís of Maine"-cleansed teeth would blind the rest of us. The funny thing is their chemically-challenged kids donít seem any healthier than my chemically-enhanced children. They have just as many hacking coughs that you try to pretend you donít notice before school drop-off time. (Hello? Oh, hello, School Nurse. WHAT?!? Junior hocked up a lung? Gosh, he seemed fine this morning.)
Maybe Iím just jealous. Thereís no way I have the discipline to research every morsel my child eats. Iím too lazy. Especially when they keep changing the rules midgame. You think you have it nailed until you find out the formerly wholesome snack food youíve been serving up is loaded with not just fat, but THE WORST KIND OF FAT.
Another problem is that I donít have the money. Apparently better health is reserved for the trust fund babies. Side-by-side sits the regular broccoli and the organic broccoli. At twice the price itís really hard for me to justify buying the organic. I figure Iíll just rinse it a little more and hope for the best. ďBut if you buy organic itís better for the planetĒ say the Organic Moms as they pull away in their Yukon Denalis.
I guess itís that lack of consistency that vexes me. Will it behoove my family to eat soynuts all day while weíre stuck in traffic behind a toxin-spewing Mack truck? Will the fish-oil capsules I swallow protect me from the mercury in my dolphin-safe tuna salad? Thereís just no way one can be completely pure and clean, living as we do on an imperfect, festering planet. I suppose you have to at least try, but donít beat yourself up if your kid occasionally eats a maraschino cherry instead of a Kale Krunchie Bomb.
Not that Iím letting Big Food off the hook, mind you. I know what theyíre trying to do to us: make us buy more food. And theyíre trying to do it at a profit by using less than the best ingredients. This shouldnít be a news flash. Itís big business. Itís evil.
But does that mean we have to chuck it all, get a land claim in Alaska and live on bark and berries? I mean, maybe you can have a Pop-Tart every so often. I think the trouble starts when you start going through a case a week. And besides, you canít tell me the Organic Moms arenít raiding the cabinet looking for Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts after theyíve indulged in a satisfying, post-PTA meeting spliff. Or so Iíve been told.
I suppose it is indicative of our culture. If a little is good then more must be better. That mentality trickles down to the health front. Itís not enough to cut down on your kidís Cheeto consumption and force-feed them some broccoli every few weeks. No, you must go completely organic and make sure little Morgan eats only soy-based protein and organic pine nuts. I mean, I like hummus as much as the next person, maybe more, but if you can resist Cheeze Doodles then I donít trust you.
Perhaps Cheeze Doodle consumption will soon be regulated for our own good, just as smoking has become a criminal act. Whatís next? Are they going to police every supermarket checkout line?
ďLady, weíre replacing this whole milk with skim, because frankly, you need it.Ē
ďIf youíll just cooperate, weíll allow you the Brie cheese pending the results of your bloodwork.Ē
Like most mothers, I have good intentions. Iíve tried to instill good eating habits in my offspring. "The Books" say if you start them out on veggies instead of fruit they wonít develop a sweet tooth. Well, the bouncing baby to whom I spoonfed organic brown rice and peas (the kid had more gas than a hot-air balloon festival in Chicago) is now a third-grader clawing at the pantry in search of a plastic fruit roll-up.
"The Books" also say your kids learn from you and if you ďmodelĒ good eating habits, they will too. Right. Iíd like to force-feed some free-range crow to that child-rearing expert. If you can get a kid to willingly eat tofu and like it, well, thatís just a little too creepy. I can sit in front of my kids and shove carrot sticks in my maw all day, but they will still whine for Ritz Bits (the new, awesome pizza flavor).
At this point I rejoice when my kids eat broccoli and non-fat granola bars but mostly I am defeated in my quest for organic purity. I am reduced to feelings of schadenfreude when the organic kid gets Coxsackie at the town pool anyway despite his superior immune system. And am I the only person who had a secret chuckle when they found e-coli in alfalfa sprouts?
Need more Kelley? A hefty collection of her great essays, What's the Matter With Mommy?, is now available on Amazon.com.
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