Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Smug parents.

One of Monkey Sr.'s favorite activities at home is to wave the Op-Ed page of the New York Times at me and demand to know how I can stand reading "this paper." This event occurs on average at least three times a week, and typically when my mouth is full of cereal, which I am inhaling as quickly as possible before one of the kids needs attention.

I usually mumble something unintelligible, because I am not at my best before noon.

"Why are we spending money on this? Why can't we just get the Wall Street Journal?

"Because I like the Times!"

"Well, why can't we just get the weekend edition? Why can't we get the Journal during the week?"

"Because I like the supplements during the week... the Science section on Tuesday, the Dining Out on Wednesday, the Home and Garden and Style on Thursday, the Escape section on Friday... If you want the Wall Street Journal, go ahead and get it, but I don't want to get rid of the Times."

silence. Then he shuffles off, mumbling something about the stupidity of getting two papers.

Today, however, was the first time I was angry enough to reconsider my devotion to the Times. This is the article that pissed me off:

To summarize, it's all about a smug parent, Mathew Forney, whose children were raised in China and who happily eat everything put in front of them, including such delicacies as scorpions, snails, and goat balls.

Listen, I'm thrilled for the writer. Really, I am. I applaud adventurous eating in all forms, by all people - big and little. Personally, I'm game for trying most things once, and am always trying to get the kids to sample new foods every week.

But mine don't. They just aren't hardwired like that, and all my painstaking work at getting them to eat has been a laboriously slow process. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. So, when I read the article, in all its smug self-satisfied glory, I wanted to slap him. I really did. I pictured slapping him with a bowl of boiled scorpions, and dumping the plate of goat balls on his head for good measure.

Yeah. I'm jealous. It shows. I wish my kids wanted to eat scorpions and goat balls. Instead, they content themselves with endless grilled cheese sandwiches, fruit, pasta and processed chicken shaped into dinosaurs. I always make a real entree every night, with real food, some of it grown in my own garden. Sometimes one of them will try it. Most times, it goes uneaten. I don't force it. I don't fuss anymore. My heart weeps as I see the efforts go down the drain or into the dog's bowl. If I had kids who ate everything on their plate, I would never be smug about it. I would be on my knees thanking God for his infinite bounty and never tempt fate by writing smug articles in the paper about my good fortune.

They are good teeth-brushers though.

And they are getting better at posing for the camera.

And the dog is usually pretty well behaved.

Even when the kids aren't.
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