Please don’t let me wreck him

“Go! Go! Go!”

We stand in the kitchen, cheering him on.

“Go, Bobo! Go”

Arms pumping, he races around the kitchen table. He is breathing just a little heavier than normal as his bare feet skitter across the floor. He is on lap 37 of his nightly table run. He stops for a second. He grins at us. He tilts his head to the side and asks:

“Go?”

“Go, little Bobo!” And he takes off running again, laughing with delight, fast as he can.

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His little blue plate sits on the kitchen table. He eats almost every meal off this plate: Cheerios and whole wheat toast and sausage for breakfast, left over chicken and potatoes for lunch, some crackers for snack, braised beef with sweet potatoes and rice for dinner. He likes to sit in any chair other than his high chair and to feed himself.

He eats when he wants, stops when he wants. On the little blue plate is half a slice of berry bread, a treat he loves. He ate half the piece and then got up to do his laps around the table.

Even though he seems uninterested and has eaten a healthy and filling dinner, I can’t help myself.

“Bread, Bubba, do you want the rest of your bread?” I hold out the sweet bread to him.

“Nooooooo” he shakes his head vigorously.  He is busy, he races out to the living room, jubilant at the sound of the “Elmo’s World” song on the tv.

I put the bread back on his plate. 5 minutes later I come back and eat it myself.

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I made black-eyed peas the other day for the first time. It is, to my memory, the first time I’ve ever had black-eyed peas (and they were so good!).

“How is that possible?” Mr. Monkey shakes his head. “How have you not had those before?”

I respond like I almost always do when he discovers that there is some seemingly ordinary food that I’ve never tried (like bell peppers, which I didn’t try until high school, or guacamole which I didn’t try until after college even though I grew up in Arizona, a place with good access to guacamole), which is to remind him that I grew up on Hamburger Helper and canned corn and frozen pot pies, whatever could be purchased cheaply. I am one of four kids, from a family where money was always really, really tight. Food was about quantity over quality.  You don’t buy bell peppers at a dollar each when you can find pot pies 10 for a dollar with your coupon.

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The little monkey is a marvel of health. He only goes to the doctor for well child visits and when he goes he is a picture of growing boy: 97th percentile for height, 50th for weight. He is healthy and he is perfect and he loves to run and likes to eat veggies and fruit and he stops when he is full. When he is sad he cries and snuggles and it doesn’t occur to him to ask for a cookie to ease the suffering. He doesn’t know what soda or candy tastes like. He doesn’t eat when he is bored or tired.

I want more than anything to keep it this way, to do better by him than my parents did by me. To have him take care of himself better than I sometimes take care of myself.

I don’t want to wreck him. I don’t want him to have the same struggles with his weight that I do with mine. I want him to always want to “Go!”.

I don’t want him to turn into me.

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2 thoughts on “Please don’t let me wreck him

  1. James says:

    Don’t beat yourself up too bad, I’ve never had black eyed peas. Have to remember that it was a different food world 25-30 years ago. The first time I ever saw salsa was when we moved to Arizona and I was almost 18. Plus mom only had two spices in her pantry, salt and pepper with an emphasis on salt.

    But if you are dredging up old family memories add this stuff to the list: powdered milk, boiling every vegetable so that any nutritional value you got went down the sink when you drained the pan, broiled tuna fish sandwiches, tuna fish casserole made with generic mac and cheese and canned mushroom soup. Don’t forget this Sunday classic, dry pot roast with wilted carrots and boiled potatoes.

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