Monday, February 2, 2009

The Power of the Ring Ding

I am one of the annoying moms who grates organic carrots into the carob brownies and shreds winter squash into the corn bread. The above shot could be found in my kitchen.

That explains why my kids worship McDonald's and horde Smarties in their sock draw. I bake all the time, only I use fruit as a sweetner and smushed bananas instead of oil. They fell for it until they were about in the fifth grade and started going on unsupervised play dates where the mothers introduced them to the world of processed baked goods, refined flour, white bread, and the teachings of Stalin. Well, maybe not Stalin, but that's sort of how I felt.

Around that time, when my oldest was 10 and my youngest was around 4, we had a graduation breakfast at her pre-school. It was a rural Christian preschool which meant there were lots of doughnuts (in NYC, we were much more diverse and offered bagels and bialies). Emma and I contributed a fruit tray and whole wheat cranberry muffins. Upon being offered one of those sugary white doughnuts, Emma's eyes got very big and she said in an unusually loud voice, "No, thank you. Mom says doughnuts are toxic."

I turned away. I was hoping they wouldn't connect me with that kid, but since there were maybe eight kids in that preschool, the chances were slim.

So the other day while shopping in one of those giant warehouse stores, I told Emma and Philip to each pick out a treat so I could focus for five minutes on what I was buying. Emma picked out meltable chocolate and strawberries; Philip picked out Swiss rolls. The deal was I had to let them buy whatever they chose.

Then Philip's current and first girlfriend came over that afternoon. They have been "dating" (they go on myspace together while I put laundry away in his room; we occasionally all go out to walk the dog) for five months and are planning a small, but elegant, wedding. This is, remember, middle school.

This time they were playing around with the names of their future children, and discussing the likelihood of eye and hair color. Then I got this text while putting together a snack for them:

Mom, whatever you do, don't offer her the Swiss rolls. They r way 2 good 2 give away. Don't even say we have them.

I texted back: But u r going to share yr lives. Y not a Swiss roll?

Please Mom. Please. I'll read or do a chore if u just bring up the popcorn.

The amazing thing about the early teenage years is they are beginning to see irony -
in me, in their teachers, in each other, but not in themselves. Not yet.

I think that weird balance is one of the hardest nuances to capture in YA writing.


adrienne said...

Cute! You'll know you're in trouble when he finds someone worth sharing the Swiss rolls with :)

I have both items in the first picture in my kitchen, but also potato chips and a boatload of candy...

Barbara K. said...

I love Swiss rolls myself, but I know what you are saying about that age group. It is very hard to get the way they are and not have it sound really dumb. I keep revising my YA manuscript and I am having themost trouble with the speaking parts. -- Barb in WV

Marcia said...

Oh Anne, we are nutritional twins! I used to give my oldest frozen peas straight out of the freezer to snack on. He loved them. He took them outside in a little cup. I didn't find out till he was a teen that the neighborhood MOMS felt sorry for him.

Mary Witzl said...

Anne, you -- and Marcia too -- are my SISTERS! I could have written this post, and I too am the Queen of Tofu.

I do use molasses and honey when I bake, and I have been known to use sugar too, but I make up for it by adding nutritionally dense stuff like pumpkin, carrots and even spinach. I've managed to get the kids to eat all sorts of stuff by blending it.

People feel sorry for my kids too. They grew up on carrot sticks, pumpkin and date muffins made with wholemeal flour and wheat germ, organically grown everything, wherever possible. The odd bag of M & Ms was a huge treat for which they were slavishly grateful.

Now that they're teenagers, they eat the worst crap in the world when I'm not around. All I can do is hope that they'll eventually come round. Sigh... for a while there, they were really healthy kids.

And your son's reaction to the Swiss roll had ME rolling! My kids are finally getting irony, but you're so right: when it's directed at them, they're mighty slow on the uptake.

Colorado Writer said...

I love Little Debbie anything. So bad. But, oh so yummy.

Carrie Harris said...

I am such a dork. You know what I was thinking the whole time I was reading this?

One Ring Ding to rule them all. One Ring Ding to find them.

I think I need to get out more.

Anne Spollen said...

Mary and Marcia -- oh, where were you two when my boys were toddlers?
Frozen peas, pumpkin, spinach -- wonderful! In our old neighborhood, the kids would munch on Cracker Jacks and one mom put SevenUp in her two year old's bottle once...the horror.

Right Barbara -- teenspeak is tough. They detect it right away, too, if it's not really, really authentic. I'm around them all the time, and it's still a challenge.

Little Debbie. Yes,CW, I have a huge collection of imported chocolate (hey, it's not wine) so do as I say, not as I eat.

Carrie, lol, maybe a week in the islands and you'll be good as new.