There were kumquats in the fruit bowl and I wasn’t happy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a kumquat you see, yet here they sat, draped over a banana like Pat Butcher’s earrings (may she rest in peace) and apparently they were not for me.
“I bought them for Alex,” my wife told me “He likes them”
“He’s had them before?”
“Several times, although I think he prefers the organic ones”
“Of course he does. What’s for dinner?”
“Erm there’s some Twiglets in the cupboard that need eating up………”
I sometimes wonder whether we obsess rather too much on the diets of our children, I cringe in the supermarket when I hear
“Josh! Izzy! Hurry up and select your hummus, you’re missing cbeebies” But the reality is we are just as guilty. Will this organic, free range, probiotic, carbon neutral, additive free, vitamin enriched, superfood kabbala mega porridge really make a difference as opposed to say, normal porridge? They look very similar I must say. Funnily enough the main difference appears to be price. Sure our children glow with health and they will eat anything you put in front of them but then so do I and I grew up on Angel Delight and Monster Munch. When I was little the fruit bowl was where the house keys were kept. Where spare batteries could be found. 5 a day was the number of penguin bars I ate. Occasionally I wouldn’t even dilute Kia-ora – I’d swig it straight from the bottle and then run screaming around the living room like Bruno Tonioli in a house fire, delirious on E104. We did once have live yoghurt but that was the one we forgot to throw away before going on holiday one year. I’m not a fussy eater either – to this day there are only three things I won’t eat : housebricks, dogshit and marzipan.
Obviously I jest: I’m sure I had a very normal diet – but these are the things I remember.
There was no such thing as “Organic” back then – so perhaps less choice made it easier. We didn’t know that essential fatty acids were, y’know, essential; we thought Omega 3 & 6 were planets and you would’ve had a hard time convincing anyone that bacteria could be “friendly”. Food advertising was less sophisticated back then as well; we didn’t have special effects showing us that bifidus digestivum or L. Casei immunitas bacteria could help with digestion. We had adverts where a load of builders in a van sang “we hope it chips, it’s chips!!”. But weirdly enough we also didn’t have childhood obesity or food allergies in the very young.
So what are my options? Well maybe there are two alternatives, the first is to go to the other extreme. Turn into the type of parent who uses confectionary as a gag, who give their children vast quantities of sugar to buy daylight obedience and then wonder why they are still up and screaming at 9 o’clock at night “YOU’VE HAD SWEETS – NOW GO TO BED!!!!!!” It always strikes me as sad that they’re unable to connect the two things. The other option is more of a middle ground. Perhaps we just need to simplify our parental food mantra.
No sweets, no fizzy drinks and plenty of fruit and veg? How’s that? Sounds like a healthier recipe to me.
I suspect that we will be remembered as the generation of parents who were polarised in their attitudes towards food. Some of us are too protective of our children’s stomachs and spend too much time stressing about what they eat, time that could’ve been better spent with them. Others really don’t care enough and the results lumber around the playground with type 2 diabetes.
Even if I don’t make it to the healthy middle ground I think I know which camp I’d rather be coming from.