Ever notice how when you bump into someone in the supermarket the person immediately does a quick scan of your shopping cart? I remember when Racchel was writing Diary of a Fat Black Woman she’d complain that people were ogling her groceries and commenting on her selections.
Thing with Racchel, though, is that by publishing her diary, she invited folks to take liberty, as we say here. Me? I did no such thing with the man in the supermarket this past Saturday.
There I was, with my boys giving Bébé’s kids a run for their money (running up one aisle and sliding down the next, the “fun” made easier by soccer cleats, and trying to make a case, it seemed, for everything they had seen in commercials that morning). I was between practicing dexterity (conspicuously returning things to the shelves) and laying down the law (No! No! No! and you’ll have to pay for that with your own money).
That’s when he got all in my beeswax. Now, I didn’t know the man from Adam, and I certainly didn’t say boo to him as we shared space at egg cooler. But that didn’t stop him from minding my business.
This man looked into my cart and said, “Buying everything your parents never bought for you, nuh?”
Now, tell me, isn’t that some judgment?
I couldn’t answer even if I wanted to, since my attention was immediately occupied by trying to put three of the four boxes of gogurt my little one decided he needed back into the cooler.
The thing is, I can’t even recall accompanying any adult to the supermarket when I was a child. They went to the store and bought what they wanted to and then forced us to eat it.
Even occasional treats like pancakes (talking about Aunt Jemima’s and not fritters) came at a cost. Back then, kids drank tea every day with breakfast (and again at supper. We had breakfast, lunch, which was the heavy meal of the day, and supper) and if we were having pancakes, then some bright mind decided that we couldn’t have the artificial maple syrup and still have sugar in our tea.
Now tell me. And those weren’t the days of Ovaltine and Milo, either. I’m talking about locally made chocolate or bush tea.
As an aside, I remember a school chum who was always loath to go home on the same day of every week. I later found out that her mother stuck to the same menu, year in, year out, and the day of the perpetual angst was fungi, salt-fish and cassi day.
The point is, back then, we didn’t have much say on what we ate. And, to boot, the snack options were neither extensive nor exciting. For the life of me, I was never a fan of eating dust, which is what ashum was. And I grew old eating Ms Anne’s tamarind stew off pieces of brown paper. Other than those, popular options were raspberry jam, fudge, sugar cake and maybe corn curls.
Furthermore, my adults discouraged snacking. They expected home-served dessert or the Thwaites run to suffice. Now the latter could, as could cake or the cake-and ice-cream combo. But in my house, Jell-O combined with ice cream was a big hit with everyone else but me. Separately, cool; but together, the textures just didn’t make sense.
Things have changed. Times have changed and the food and snack options are extensive. Heck, kids have changed. Or maybe that one belongs to the parents.
My children are seasonal with their eating. One time, they are like plows, pretty much eating whatever is prepared for them rapidly and requesting more. But they can flip the script with the snap of a finger and become among the world’s most finicky eaters. As my eldest reminded me a few days after he’d requested several servings of something and was, on this day, declaring that he didn’t like it anymore, “kids’ taste change.”
As for my little one, he eats something obsessively over a period of time and then, without warning, flatly refuses it forever and ever amen. Daily servings of fungi and bread and cheese have given way to mac and cheese and original Doritos. Nitrates, I mean hotdogs, gave me agita for a while.
The trick is trying to keep it balanced. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that’s easier said than done. Fruits and veggies, for sure, but let me tell you, kids want snacks. And, sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate between junk food and food.
Plus, I can attest to the fact that even if you don’t give something to your children, someone else does – a friend on the playground in lunchtime swap or an indulgent relative.
And no need for smugness either, because few are immune. I’ve borne witness to some “ital only” kids putting away some unrighteous stuff when their parents weren’t looking.