Monday, July 25, 2011

Fitting in

Following Mom's death, we decided to move our family from the city to a small, eastern Washington town. This move was in large part designed as an effort to take care of my aging father. Dad's at sort of an 'awkward' age. His health is not great (diabetes, heart disease-and as of last week, ulcers), but his mental state is pretty good. He still gets around, goes for walks and works at his office the better part of each work day. In other words- he's not ready for a retirement or nursing home situation, but really can't live alone either.

We knew there would be sacrifices, and there have been some big ones! We left behind the city that we loved living in for 23 years. We left our home (which was financially devastating), our friends and our jobs. As grown ups, we made these decisions willingly (which is not to say that I don't sometimes have dramatic moments of total mental fatigue-inconsolable moments where I feel the loss of all of the above). The kids however, my two lovely little boys didn't yet have the tools to anticipate what was ahead of them.

We have been living with Dad for a little over a year now, and for the most part-the boys have adjusted really, really well.  If given a choice, I know that they would not choose to return to the city. ( I know because I have asked-sometimes hoping they will say 'yes! we must go back', but they never do.)

If you are thinking that this post is not about gardening-your right. I am taking liberties, but it does take place in my yard-so there.  I promise this is all leading somewhere. (See photo below-faces not shown to protect the privacy of those involved.)

As our home in the city hasn't yet sold (see for sale sign in front yard), we head back about once a month to do maintenance, mow the lawn, etc. We  usually allow the boys to take a friend with them. This little boy, 'J', is a very sweet and funny kid. However, he is obsessed with the fact that we are vegetarians, and never misses a  chance to take a jab. Comments include things like "My Mom brought home veggie burgers last night, and I was so mad! It's like she's trying to make me a vegetarian!" and "If I couldn't have meat, I would die. Meat is the healthiest thing for you to eat!'  Keep in mind that we have been friends with J. for over a year, and his comments have continued long past the polite few months. He eats with us often, and-as far as I can tell, he enjoys the way we eat (he's known to ask for seconds, and sometimes thirds).  I don't try to recruit or preach to anyone regarding the virtues of a vegetarian or vegan diet. It's our choice.

So on this particular evening, my kids asked for a dessert called  cinnamon 'snails'. J's eyes got all buggy at the concept of eating snails, and the boys and I launched a plan. I gave each of the boys a bag, and sent them out into the front yard to hunt for the snails. Of course, cinnamon 'snails' are nothing more than bread, cream cheese, butter and cinnamon sugar-but for now, J. didn't need to know that! The boys spent a good twenty minutes hunting down 2 or 3 snails, and eagerly brought them  inside. I banished them all to watch TV in the basement while I prepared the 'snails'.

When the timer went off, the boys came bounding up the stairs to receive their individual plates of 'snails'. J's plate came back virtually untouched-he said he could taste the snails! Now at this point I'm feeling a little mean about our trick, and I know I'm not going to win any parenting awards for this-but I let him sit with it for a few more hours. When my son T. informed me that J. was feeling a little green, I had to come clean.

"J," I said, "I promise that no snails were harmed in the making of your dessert. I promise never to feed you anything as gross as a snail or a dead body." J. little cheeks got a bit red, and I apologized for having a laugh as his expense.

I have to say though- it's been a few months, and I haven't heard any more cracks from J. about our diet. For the record, I did make it up to him  the next evening with an extra large serving of cinnamon 'snails'.

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