I know, I know. I’m supposed to be writing Why, Part 3 (you didn’t know my conversion story had more sequels than The Land Before Time, did you?) but I’m going to take a break from that for a bit and discuss something a bit more unschooly. (I love that that term is still so new my computer autocorrects it every time. Get with it, Grammarly!)
There are a few articles circulating around Facebook about how totally awesome it is to be a “mean mom”(their choice of words, not mine). We’re all somewhat familiar with these and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing we have a similar reaction: something along the lines of “WHAT? whyyyyyy????” One article I read actually said, “If your child tells you you’re mean, take it as a compliment.” I really really REALLY don’t get this line of thinking. I mean, I guess it makes sense in an extreme circumstance, “No, Billy, you can’t go to the Black Mass tonight.” “Awwww, Mom, why are you so mean!?” But, honestly, if you’re at that point I think it’s safe to say you’ve already lost the battle.
*I personally think that if you wouldn’t dream of saying or doing something to anybody in the whole wide world other than your child, you probably shouldn’t say or do it to them either. That’s just my IMO.*
Anyway, I could
rant and rant and rant discuss a million points on which I disagree with these so-called “mean moms”, but I’m just going to elaborate on one today, as I feel I have a unique perspective on it. In case you weren’t able to decipher the obscure title of this post, it’s the Food Issue.
You know what I mean, right?
The “no dessert until veggies are gone,” issue. The “desserts are only for the weekends,” issue. The “I don’t care how full you are, finish your hamburger,” issue.
I’m going to tell you something shocking. I did not grow up in a house with the above rules. This is going to make my mom wince a bit (Hi, Mom!) but I could have eaten bowls of pebbles all day and that would have been perfectly fine. I remember days where I ate nothing but an entire box of Count Chocula, and other days of nothing but giant quantities of goldfish crackers. I never NEVER had Halloween candy taken away before I was through with it, was allowed as many pieces of birthday cake that I desired, at any time of the day that I desired, and drank Diet Coke happily out of a baby bottle until I was waaaaaayyyy past the appropriate bottle-drinking-age (I don’t really get why there is a cut off age for bottles, btw…).
No, I was not neglected. No, my parents were not conducting a mini Super Size Me experiment on their unsuspecting children. No, we were not unschooled. So how in the world was all this culinary craziness allowed, you ask?? Well, I’ve thought about that and I think the answer is some mash up of a mom who didn’t like to cook, an autistic brother’s obsession with McDonald’s (we literally ate there every.single.day.), and (and this, I think is the real reason, the important reason) parents who were just not that interested in micro-managing their kids.
I have wonderful parents. My mom and dad are two of my very best friends in the world. Though they were strict in some ways (rolling eyes at mom equaled instant death), they mainly treated my sister and I like little adults. I can’t ever remember my parents telling me to go to bed, or looking over my homework (unless I asked), or even to clean my room (my mom, who may be the cleanest person that has ever lived, would just tell me to shut the door so she wouldn’t have to look at the mess). I do remember, however, long discussions about politics, talking late into the night about nothing and everything, and my dad (an incredibly smart man) asking my opinion over money matters at his business. I don’t think it ever even occurred to my parents that they were supposed to be pestering us about all those other little things. They saw as us intelligent, interesting people and treated us as such. (At least, it seemed that way to me.)
Ok, I’m going to conclude this post (which, I promise, was supposed to be brief!) with the inevitable outcome of children who are allowed to eat whatever they want, whenever they want: Morbid Obesity.
Just kidding. No, really, when I went off to college and was blessed with the unspeakable joy of an in-house cafeteria (“You mean, there’s food here? Like, real, cooked food? All the time????”), I noticed most of my peers had NO idea how to eat. My roommates and I would go off to dinner together, eat a nice meal, and then, a few hours later, they’d go back. And eat another meal. And sometimes again after that. They’d also skip breakfast a lot. I became the opposite of my parents, pestering them about their eating habits, (“You know it’s not a good idea to eat chicken strips and ranch at 2 am, right???”) These were girls who’d had home cooked meals all their lives, who felt crushing guilt over each sesame seed that tumbled off their hamburger bun, who’d never been allowed double scoops on their ice cream cones, and who had no idea how to organize their meals on their own. I, on the other hand, had been in charge of my own meals my whole life. I knew what I was doing. As an adult, I lead a very healthy lifestyle, eat healthy foods almost nearly close to all of the time, and the same could be said of my sister and my husband (a fellow childhood fridge forager).
So there you have it. The experiment has been conducted and the guinea pig came out loving organics and spurning Flaming Hot Cheetos (most of the time). Fear the unwanted crust of your child’s sandwich no longer! I guess the moral of this post, as could be the moral of all of unschooling, is: relationship is more important. Maybe its just me, but I can’t imagine how a relationship wouldn’t be damaged by a lifetime of forced feedings. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy your kid a lifetime’s supply of Count Chocula (in true hypocrite’s fashion, I would never buy that for my kids), I’m just saying…the “mean moms” are wrong. Forcing your kids to eat stuff they hate or reserving awesome foods for just some days is a bad move. Honestly, its stupid. Don’t do it. There, my moral:
Don’t do it.
Also, enjoy food. Food is good.
Also, nobody but lunatics only eat dessert on weekends. You don’t want your kid to be a lunatic, do you?
Until next time.