Sunday, April 6

Anthropological Motherhood

September 1985 ~ Family Pre Food Intake Issues
Part Two (subject when he liked food)
Food Consumption
within the clan realized a significant variance as child #3 abruptly entered a picky-eating phase that continued uninterrupted from Kindergarten to legal age.

Refusing to provide a separate menu for Leiland, I was disturbed to see he was happy to leave the table night after night having eaten practically nothing. Careful on-site observation suggested peanut butter sandwiches and breakfast cereal sustained his life.

Most ironically, he was chosen to serve his classmates on the Cafeteria Committee;
an after school endeavor testing new lunch foods for the district via student sampling. It was also a feeble methodology to offer another status-elevating entity on campus. Mostly the kid panel of 5 enjoyed the school intercom announcement that their committee was meeting that day, and the extra chicken nuggets or pizza pockets offered them once a week after school.

(4th grade Lee w/Cafeteria Linda & The Food Chart - or - "Exercise in Futility")

After a shocking dental appointment when he was 11 or 12 years old (permanent molar #2 massively decayed to the point of almost a root canal) ~ (his dental assistant mother nearly fainted chair-side since they allowed me to observe the procedure and I knew exactly what they were doing and could see the “blush” of the almost exposed pulp chamber once excavation was complete), I launched a full-scale archaeological investigation into how any kid of mine could have such an advanced state of utterly ridiculous dental neglect.

The 37 Jolly Rancher wrappers we found under his pillow on his bed were a Titanic-like indicator of the nature of the problem. The small city-state size of a refuse pile of other misc. hard candy wrappers under his bed ended all speculation.

Leiland’s ritual food-inspection at the table was maddening. While the rest of us were digging in after the blessing – he was fastidiously examining dissected portions at the end of his fork or por la mano. He sniffed it suspiciously from all angles. Tentatively, he licked it, and then raised it up close to his face for another look. He prodded it with his finger for signs of life. He surgically removed unacceptable items such as tiny bits of onion or green chilies from a chicken enchilada or olives, peppers and even defective pepperoni slices from pizza. His ever-mounting discard pile was displayed prominently on the edge of his plate. It perched there, mocking me personally.
(Lee after a Little League game; note homemade scout camping pillow he made when I was trying to teach him how to sew, brownie and ice cream in bowl obviously accepted as suitable for intake, and finally, the attempt to intimidate by exhibition of where a muscle should be...)

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I yelled, “Stop it! You’d think I just served you diced cockroaches the way you pick at that! It’s unnatural! It’s insulting! There’s nothing wrong with this meal - EAT IT! NOW! After hanging his head for a second, the subject resumed the inspection process but in an effort to be less objectionable, he partially shielded the procedure behind one arm hooked around his plate “inmate style”, or curiously – by performing the pre-consumption testing in super slow motion.

Later, it seemed only sweet justice that Leiland’s Mission Call was to the deepest, darkest part of Southern Mexico.

(Please note cute little tree frog is in no actual danger; Mormon Missionaries are kind to all God's creatures. This specimen was repatriated to the jungle after this cheesy photo opportunity.)

Two miles from the Guatemalan border he was served a seasonal fave: Tropical Ant taco. Specimens are generally as long and as thick as a man’s little finger.

When they emerge from the jungle floor at the beginning of the rainy season, they are harvested, frozen (to kill them), and then seared in the pan legs and all with salt and lime. Elder Tanner ate 2 of them.

(This hormiga is not the correct species, it's too small - but it seemed appropriate as "food for thought").

He was looking forward to sampling another local protein, Armadillo, but the opportunity never materialized. In the tropical rain forests of Chiapas, he ate turtle soup, cow intestines, and turkey feet and feasted on jungle Iguana. (This God's creature was lunch. Elder Tanner stunned it with his slingshot - in companion's hands).He said it tasted like chicken – the white meat anyway. The purple meat tasted like venison.

When he came home, he was a changed animal. Besides spouting Spanish instead of English, he was a born-again eater of tomatoes, onions, peppers and every other food item formerly deemed unclean. Anxious to share his cultural awakening, he personally prepared for our refreshment a heaping pitcher of thick, fragrant and quivering cantaloupe juice.

We tried ~ but we just couldn’t drink it.

* Acknowledgment: This post is not intended to finger Leiland as the only family member with food issues ~ Robin didn't like hot dogs, and James didn't like mayonnaise. However, I kept forgetting their preferences and wasn't making anything differently anyway. Leiland was the only one adverse to so many foods for so dang long.


Yaj said...

I personally don't know how some kids live to the age of 10, but most seem to. As to mission food, I have an excellent recipe for guinea pig (you have to flay them on the underside just right), sopa de pata de vaca (apparently you MUST use all four - yummie, until you actually put some in your mouth and the eye balls are bigger than you think!) and beetles fried in lard. Spine tingling good eats! One has to get real good, and I mean real good, at imagining the food to be something else... or eat it in a bowl, without utensils, in the dark. Kids don't have that ability readily refined.

Cynthia said...

I refuse to make different menus for kids dislikes too. So I am surprised when we sit down to a perfectly good dinner and someone says - "you KNOW I havent eaten egg/turkey/mustard/coconut/soysauce (whatever the case may be) for my whole life!" I usually don't remember, because I don't care. I never had a child as picky as Leiland, though. Thank goodness. That would be hard.
I remember making a broccoli soup in a high school Home Ec Class and loving it and the distain on my moms face when I shared that information with her. Apparently I had not been very nice about broccoli at the dinner table for the previous 15 years.

Heidi said...

Wow. While I was awaiting my mission call I was dreaming of 2 scenarios. 1. State side. It would be easiest (as far as language was concerned) and in my comfort zone. 2. Mexico, Chille, Equador, or somewhere "cool" like that. I could learn Spanish (a totally practical language to know) and hopefully teach humble people. After hearing horror stories of what missionaries had to eat and the circumstances they lived in, I know there was inspiration to my scandinavian mission call! Sounds like there was inspiration to Leiland's as well!!

Bandanamom said...

Will there be more in the this anthropological motherhood series? Because I'm pretty sure you have a wealth of untapped material here. Very interesting!