Tonight my 14-yr. old son Kincade was reading a newspaper comic called “A Doctor, A Lawyer, and A Cop” and started laughing, handed it to me.
The kid is saying, “But PLEASE, Mom, you don’t understand how important it is for me to have a pair of new sneakers.” The mom replies, “Or what?! Your friends might see you as someone who is indifferent to whatever happens to be ‘cool’ from one week to the next?” The boy, shocked, says, “Oh, my goodness . . . you DO understand how important it is.”
Irony and sarcasm are lost on the boy in the comic strip. I think Kincade “gets it,” even though just the day before, we’d had a conversation about why we can’t just eat a lot of junk food like all his friends. He does get tired of kids saying, “What IS that?!” when he gets his baggie of cut-up bell peppers and pears out (along with whole-wheat sandwiches). Even worse are the looks and teasing he gets when he slugs down a green smoothie at the baseball field in front of the guys.
My friend R.J. (26-year old bodybuilder) harangued me for 20 mins. today about how my son’s masculinity will be at risk if I don’t start feeding him steaks. R.J. saw Cade (5’10” and 145 lbs.) when we were all at the gym recently and told him, “Dude. Anytime you want, give me call and I’ll get you a steak at Outback. TWO steaks.”
Sometimes the pressure of the larger culture is daunting. I don’t feel like educating everyone in my path, since most of them aren’t interested anyway. (So I just joke around with R.J. I told him Kincade’s friends have a tendency to quit laughing when he knocks the ball over the fence or strikes out three guys in a row.) Also, when my son does something good (in front of others) despite that good thing not being “mainstream” or “popular,” he may be actually learning some really important life skills that transcend just food. It’s not like I’m sending him to school with black pants 4 inches too short, with white socks. There’s a POINT to what I’m doing. I can tell you that some people who were making fun of me 10 years ago are now doing anything and everything I suggest, because they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.
We just have to remind ourselves that we’re doing this with enlightenment, education, a sense of purpose, and (for many of us) the guidance of prayer and inspiration. And a sense of humor and balance. (Still, that overused saying “all things in moderation” doesn’t mean to eat poisons in moderation–it means to eat GOOD things in moderation. I have to admit I said this to R.J. when he pulled that one out. I mean, a “moderate” amount of arsenic is still certain death.)
So my son wants to eat junk food in front of his friends? Awesome. I can do that. Today I served hot dogs. Nobody needs to know that they were veggie dogs on sprouted-wheat buns (both store-bought), with homemade raw sauerkraut made last fall from my garden cabbage! Chalk one up for Mom.