Monday, October 12, 2009

crunch crunch

The boys had a couple of other boys – boys all about the place – to the house for a sleepover last night and we were once again floored by the eating habits of others. The two that came over were brothers, one of which is a classmate of H., and the four of them spent most of the day and evening speaking an unknown language whilst playing Magic (The Gathering) cards. I only give you the ‘the Gathering’ portion because the game is always given its full title when spoken by children. We decided to make a roasted whole chicken, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and peas; it’s a staple of the weekly menu and it seems like you couldn’t go wrong offering a classic, straight-forward dinner to kids you don’t know. If you believe that then you, and we, need to tuck that thought back into its mystery holding box. The younger brother didn’t even come to dinner because it was well-known to both of the visiting brothers that his eating habits are ‘picky’ and the chances of there being something on a table that he might eat was nil from the moment he left his house. The older boy did come to the table as H. and G. oohed-and-aahed as one of their favorite dinners arrived. The problem became that our guest began his input with “The only kind of chicken I’ve ever seen is…”, I’ll give you the same second or two that I had to imagine how this sentence might finish.


“The only kind of chicken I’ve ever seen is a McNugget.” Yikes. Not ‘in’ a McNugget but ‘a McNugget’.You may have been thinking the same closing was in store as I; something like “from KFC,” “in a Popeye’s bucket,” etc. Nope, nothing even in the shape of a chicken throughout his 13-year life. I really wanted to ask what they had at Thanksgiving – he was really only looking at a small turkey, after all – but I let that go when I saw the look of complete amazement when he first caught sight of a whole, non-nuggetized chicken. He wanted nothing to do with the potatoes, gravy, or peas but he did at least have two or three pieces of chicken. (I tried to convince him to give my ass-kicking mashed a try but there was no way it was going to happen.) As he was eating he did give us a little background on what his brother will eat: Cheerios, potato chips, white bread, Chee-tos, and some other junky fuel. I kept waiting for anything that would be doable: spaghetti, pizza…anything, but it wasn’t forthcoming. After dinner we offered the pickster a grilled-cheese sandwich which seemed to pique his interest. We told him we only had whole wheat bread which seemed okay to him until he saw that it had seeds on it; he manage to scrap his hand along the crust before deciding it might work. X sliced up some nice cheddar for him to make a sandwich while we went out for an evening walk. I knew immediately, before departing the house, that it wouldn’t fly in the end because the bread had presented problem #1; and, when he saw the cheese wasn’t a cheese food product wrapped in individual slices, and instead sliced from a block, he was aghast. He tried a small taste of it that X passed along and then slyly moved to the garbage can and spat it out. Needless to say, when we got back from our walk the bread and cheese were neatly deposited in the can. Over his 18 hours at the house he didn’t eat a nibble. The whole series of events was simply stunning. When a kid is allowed to work himself that far down the food eating chain then there’s little chance of recovery later in life. At least if a kid is limiting himself to meatloaf or pasta or anything of value he may eventually grow to try new things but I have no doubt this kid will end up eating nothing but frozen burritos and nachos, whilst sitting in his underwear, for the rest of his life. At 11, or so, his metabolism is high and he’s skinny but that’ll change in the future and I don’t think his parents cotton onto that fact. It reminds me so much of the problem of diet in America. I think we’ve gone so far down the slope away from good food that for loads of folk, urban or suburban, there’s no recovery. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe not.

I have a whole separate story from the WaPo over the weekend; transportation. Maybe tomorrow.

The Eleven, WonderTwin 2, and someone known only as “Poor Phil” are heading to the Irish Pub for Monday night Quiz Night. Results and impressions to follow.

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