A few days ago, a friend was telling me about how her picky grandson won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets and applesauce, and how he screams and kicks if someone tries to suggest something else — like mashed potatoes and a couple of bites of green beans.
“I don’t remember being asked what I wanted for supper,” I said with a laugh.
“Me neither,” my friend smiled. “And if I had stated an opinion about the dinner menu, I am very sure things wouldn’t have gone well for me.”
So then I thought about the school lunches I had as a kid. I thought about standing in the cafeteria line, waiting for stuff I wasn’t allowed to choose to be plopped on my plastic tray. By the way, I hated white milk, so it was a little bit of Christmas when I could pluck a box of chocolate milk before they were all gone. I wasn’t crazy about what we so fondly referred to as “mystery meat” either, but when I was really hungry, I mustered the nerve to taste it. Many times, I was happily surprised.
Most kids faced the same lunchtime drama. If pizza, chili or hamburgers were on the menu, excitement was in the air.
We weren’t damaged by not having a choice about what was plopped on the lunch trays with ice cream dippers. But it certainly made many of us hate the guts of the snot heads with Partridge Family and Superman lunch boxes. By the way, I did attempt once to join that particular group of snot heads.
“A lot of other kids bring their lunches to school,” I whined. (This was grossly exaggerated, since four of maybe 120 elementary-aged kids brought lunches from home.)
“I don’t care,” my mom said.
“Sally gets to eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches every day,” I said.
“That’s too bad,” My mom said. “Her parents don’t care if her teeth rot out of her head.”
Dang it. My plan was crashing.
“Another kid brings plastic containers filled with chicken noodle soup or fruit cocktail,” I tried again. “What about that?”
“Well, that kid is a spoiled brat,” my mom said. “His mother is obviously raising a little moron who will grow up thinking he’s special. You are lucky since you get to be part of the real world.”
“Lucky?” I blinked. “What’s lucky about eating sweaty, rubber hot dogs?”
“It’s a growth opportunity,” my mom said, and because that vein in her neck was poking out a little, I reminded myself that if I had half a brain, I would stop trying to join the snot head club with cool lunch boxes.
By the way, our schools were not air conditioned either. I loved sitting close to those enormous fans. I loved the breeze from the open windows. Some of us sweat so much that the whole room smelled like the boys’ locker room.
Today’s kids have way too many choices. Maybe that’s why my friend’s grandkid is a screamer. If he doesn’t get asked what he wants to eat, then he never gets the idea that he rules what his parents do in the kitchen. In my opinion, parents don’t dish up anything worthy when they serve chicken nuggets, applesauce and a big sprinkling of, “you’re-the-kid-and-yet-you-run-the-show.”
You must be logged in to post a comment.