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.