mustard, calamari and pop tarts
now, if, after reading the title of this post, you don’t want to have a snack, well, i can’t blame you. but, at least for me, these things have something in common. allow me the indulgence of telling a few stories before getting to my point that has hit me so square in the face recently…(i know, i know…me? tell stories? weird.)
a sweet friend was over having lunch recently and i wasn’t having a great day…exhausted and really kinda struggling (those days come and go)…so she was helping out a lot by making all the kid’s lunches. she had brought sandwich meat and fixin’s for everyone and was asking how everyone liked their sandwiches. abigail, at that point was screaming from her high chair…the girl is cute, but she does not play around when it comes to getting her food in a…shall we say…timely manner…so i think she would have actually taken calamari covered in mustard stuck in between two pop tarts….but alas, we fed her something normal like ham and cheese…and quick.
but then she got to benjamin (my 3 1/2 year old) and she asked him a few questions, knowing his severe food allergies, i am sure she knew he just couldn’t have anything he wanted. but this was one question that really hit me…she said, “hey buddy, would you like mustard on your sandwich?” and i’m telling you….she might as well have asked what the formula for the Pythagorean theorem was…(a squared plus b squared equals c squared…by the way)…because he was looking at her like she was speaking another language. so, she kinda looked at me funny, like, what is wrong with your kid?.. and repeated herself….”buddy, do you want mustard?” again..my kid, with the blank stare. then it hit me….hmm…does he even know what mustard is, really? (i’ll expand more in a minute)
a few months ago, we were out celebrating my aunt’s birthday at the Italian restaurant that lets you color on the table with crayons and the waiters always show off my writing their names on it upside down…i can’t ever keep the name of the place in my head. my aunt loves my kids and they love her. this celebration was 12 grown ups (ya know, “real” ones, my parents age) ryan and i, and my kids, and we didn’t even meet at the restaurant until 6:00….just giving you a little scene-setting, that’s all. anyway…my kiddos were being VERY good…but we had exhausted every distraction and “keep them entertained” technique. we had, obviously, colored on the tables…all.over.the.tables actually….we’d gone in every combination to see the “big fire” from the chefs, jacob goes with nana, benjamin goes with grandpa, then we switch, etc….shoot, we’d raced and washed our hands, even….and stiiiiill we were waiting for our food…it was getting late, and like i mentioned above, my sweet darling abigail doesn’t mess around when waiting for food. she begins to scream a very distinct “i WILL be fed or you adults will pay” scream…that we tease as her going from cute to velociraptor in 2.4 seconds.
so…needless to say when the food did arrive at 7:30 (abigail’s bedtime, by the way) we all dove in, and grandpa worked feverishly to feed the poor girl. now, both my dad and my mom have wondered how two such diverse eaters could have possible wound up with two super PICKY eaters as their children. my brother and i (ok, really just him) have gotten better with age, but we heard a lot growing up, “how can you by our kid?” and “well, you didn’t get this from me!” because we both were pretty darn picky. my husband and my sister-in-law are both great eaters who make fun of us as well. (i know, it’s tough…but don’t feel sorry for us, we will be ok. therapy has helped)
so…back to my poor starving baby girl. my dad is cutting up her noodles and she is, no lie, double fisting, shoving them in her mouth. can’t blame her. i would have been doing the same thing if ms. manners would have allowed it. but instead, i was politely using my utensils and cutting up one of the two meals i ever order from Italian restaurants…that are among maybe four dishes i have EVER even tried from Italian restaurants. i am happy in my routine. ryan calls me boring. i like to think of it as consistent. you will never hear me say “hmmmm…i wonder if that’s good, i think i am going to try the…….” nope. not me. so….as i am politely inhaling my predictable, and yummy dinner, i hear my dad call out from the other end of the table, “well, toots, (my childhood nickname)…she’s definitely not your child!” i don’t even have to look up. i know what he’s done. knowing that he has the safety of about 4 other adults between us, he has given my sweet baby girl something that would make her mommy squirm. little did i know, that the entree used to squirm itself. ugh. (sorry, i couldn’t resist) that’s right….my sweet baby girl was joyfully, double-fisting, stuffing her face with calamari!!! i said, “DAD!! what is that!?!” he deceivingly replied, “it’s ok, it’s just shrimp.” knowing i would freak out when i found out what it really was. ugh. squid. my baby girl was eating squid. and loving every minute of it. she gets that from her father.
ok, last one. my dear friend, mentor, and happen to be employer through most of college ( I was blessed to be her son’s nanny) told me a story that always stuck with me and as i have been contemplating this blog in my head, was reminded of it. she grew up with a working mom and dad who were both hard-working and successful. they loved she and her sister, but were also very driven. she remembers her parents being busy but caring. but she also remembers seeing other kids who had stay-at-home moms who had homemade snacks waiting for them when they got home from school and big breakfasts on saturday mornings. she told me that she was old, waaay too old before she even knew that pop tarts were even supposed to be put in the toaster. i couldn’t believe that. “how could you not know that?” i asked her. “well, my mom always just handed us the package as we were headed out the door and we loved them! but then, i will never forget…. i spent them night at a friend’s house and when we got up the next morning, she asked if i wanted a pop tart, and i said, yes, so she got out the toaster. i asked what she was doing and she stopped and kinda looked at me funny. (i’m remembering benjamin and his mustard? face right now) she said she was getting the pop tarts ready. sure enough. that day changed everything. nice, warm, gooey pop tarts. think about it. BIG difference, huh? ya. big. difference.
now, before you go and judge my friend’s mom, or me…or me again…..think about it. really stop and think about it. i have been. it has boggled my mind. we influence our kids in such big and small ways. such huge, monumental, life changing ways, and in such small ways. my dear friend loves her mom. i am pretty sure that many years later, and many nice, warm, gooey pop tarts later, she has forgiven her mom for allowing herself that convenience that we all do in some form or fashion, and in return been more than blessed by admiring such a strong, admirable, exceptional woman as her mother. i do not like mustard. not even a little. and you know what…that’s ok. but, man…what if my kids LOVE it…how would they know? i never offer it to them, never buy it, because i do not like it in the least. calamari. ok, let’s be honest, seafood in general…they could love it. who knows?
but this is just food, people. my kids really will be ok in life if they never eat calamari, mustard and have cold pop tarts every morning. they really will. but…as i always do…i really let my mind wander with this one. everything ryan and i do influences them. you see…we are just now getting to a new phase of parenting. our oldest is almost 6 years old and so we are entering elementary school…outside influencers….no more baby stuff. tough questions. unfair life happenings. things out of our control. so far, we have influenced our kids but they have been “babies” if you will, and it has been mainly about their development, their learning, their behavior, their manners. and yes, i understand that they have already been picking up on our habits, our actions, our REactions….but with all of this thinking i’ve been doing, i’ve also just been doing a lot of praying….because it has hit me pretty hard….i really don’t want my kids to turn out like me…or ryan. yikes. i mean it, though. i just want them to be like Jesus.
i read in Beth Moore’s book “goodbye insecurity” that when her daughter found out she was having a girl she said something like “oh man, i have to deal with my junk. i don’t want to pass this on to her!” i couldn’t agree more!!! i feel awful that poor benjamin doesn’t really even know what to do with mustard. i know that sounds completely retarted, but really, people. the kid is limited in life because of me. does it matter? no. it’s not like i’m losing sleep over it. but it spurred this blog and a lot of thinking and praying of what other things i want to make sure i don’t miss out on influencing him correctly in. patience. kindness. TRUST in our great God. being joyful in all circumstances. (see 1 thess.)
i want my kids to have such a great life, a godly life. God wants that too. i know this may seem like a silly analogy, but really…HE wants us not to miss out on the nice, warm, gooey pop tart kind of life, not to settle for a cold pop tart kind of life. (john 10:10) fortunately, our kids can have a great life even with all the silly things i have “limited” them by. but, i honestly hope this has spurred your thinking too. because they can’t have an abundant life without God working through you. i can’t make it through breakfast without messing it up and acting like me. short-tempered, selfish, worried…etc. make sure you are getting in the stuff that matters. we started memorizing Scripture with our kids. it is written on their bathroom mirror. we try to have them think of other people and things to pray for other than just mama, daddy, nana, grandpa, mimi, papaw, marmie, pa…etc. we talked about the kids who are getting the toys we donate. we talked about how we don’t want to “wish” for a bigger house, we are so thankful for where we live. oooohh how i want to influence their little hearts in the right way. and i know i can’t do that without God helping me each day. His strength. Him in me.
but, let me be clear. i am not going to run out and start trying all new foods. i am a grown up, after all, and don’t have to now. 🙂 (na, na, na, na, na)