Our kids have a variety of nicknames. I rarely call my son, “Short Stack” to his face, though he will respond to it if you say it repeatedly in a loud clear voice and somehow manage to break through the impenetrable attention-wall of whatever he happens to be doing at the moment. Usually toy trucks or toy trains. Either way, whatever it is, it’s almost always more interesting that what an adult will tell him. Getting through is a tough job. Lulu Belle has quite a lost of nicknames as well but is easier to get her to pay attention to you. I’m guessing that this is because she hasn’t fully discovered the thrill that trucks and trains can bring and unless we can convince Short Stack that sharing is good, she never may, either.
What I have noticed about their nicknames is that I seem to have a theme based list that I draw from. What they get called tends to depend on what activity we are doing at the moment. Mealtime is the perfect example. Short Stack goes by the moniker, “Fruit Bat” while Lulu Belle proudly wears the label, “Carnivore Girl.” You don’t need a second guess why they are called what they are.
My wife, Action Girl has had a varied and meandering path she has followed when it comes to food. As a child growing up in rural Vermont, she was daily presented with a dizzying menu of far reaching proportions. Though she had spent her entire life in the Green Mountain state, he parents were transplants from Jersey City and Yonkers. Though the baked ziti and casserole recepies common to church suppers and Rotary meetings found their way home from time to time, the kids were just as likely to find a plate of linguini and clams, calamari, or matzo ball soup staring back at them from the dinner table. Her parent’s, remembering their metropolitan roots, were creative, often to the consternation of the younger inhabitants of the household.
With this varied gastronomical background, Action Girl made an early discovery. She really, simply, honestly, didn’t care for meat in general and red meat in particular. At an early age she and her older brother who couldn’t stand vegetables, (He ate peas one at a time, swinging each one down individually with a gulp of water, pill style) came up with a lively and lucrative trading business at the table when their parents weren’t looking.
Later on, after she grew up and eventually met me, I witnessed the carnage that was her attempt at eating steak. The ‘meat to be eaten’ to ‘meat to be discarded because it looked yucky’ ratio was about one to one. My inquiry if she would like a set of silver dissection needles with her meal was met with that special scathing gaze that girls work at perfecting, starting at age nine. Done correctly, it can actually leave marks.
Then, one year she scored a great adventure/summer job. She would be working in Colorado on a dude ranch. It would be tough to be away from her for so long, but I knew it was something that she really wanted to do. She had spent her whole life in New England and going out west to work on horseback was going to be one of those magic, life-defining kind of moments. It was. It was also full of buffalo meat.
In one letter, she told me how they had been served buffalo sausage for breakfast, buffalo burgers for lunch and buffalo steak for dinner. She also remarked how there were brownies for dessert and she was eyeing them suspiciously, suspecting that some buffalo hand managed to work its way in there somehow.
When she returned later that fall, she was a committed vegetarian.
But that was fine! We got an apartment together when she returned and she leaped into her vegetarianness with gusto. Action Girl has never let me down in the kitchen and her more than excellent talents shone through in her endeavor to make us wonderful meals with no meat included. She succeeded. We happily lived the vegetarian life for well over a decade and during that time, though I had not abandon my carnivorous ways, I never felt like I was missing it at home. Burgers were had when we went out for dinner or over to friend’s houses, but at home, the meals were delicious, filling and critter free. I was fine with this. It worked.
Then, years later, I walked though the door after a long day at work and found… a pork roast.
I did walk into the right house, didn’t I?
My wife was there.
My stuff was there.
The address was, in fact, correct, but the dinner table did not lie. A beautiful pork roast was waiting there for me. No. For US.
Thirteen years of happy vegetarian eating had gone to the wayside for one, compelling and undeniable reason. She was pregnant with our first child and her body had one demand. No pickles or ice cream. MEAT! NOW!
Happily, I rolled with it and for the last four years, we’ve been an omnivorous family.
Some of us more than others.
Our son, whom started my lovely wife’s journey back to the meat eating side of life, is not easy to get meat into at all. The only way he will even consider it is if it’s in chicken nugget form, fish stick form or hot dog shape. Outside of those three, you can forget it. He will, however, devour just about any kind of fruit that you put in front of him and in any quantity. He actually thinks of applesauce as dessert! Or as he calls it, “kazzert.”
Lulu Belle will eat fruit as well if she’s in the mood and if it’s one of her favorites. Meat, though? That’s different. As she chomps her way through it, she will sometimes actually say, “Om nom nom nom!” as she chews with the same gusto normally encountered in the company of carnivores of the four legged variety. Some day, I’ll have to give her a turkey leg and film it for posterity/hilarity.
There is an excellent chance that someday Lulu Belle will be subjected to some heavy peer pressure that eating animals is bad and that she shouldn’t do it. It seems to be a stage that a large segment of adolescent girls (and a few boys who want to go out with these girls) go through at some point in their lives, and I have an unfortunate tendency to roll my eyes when I encounter this. Action Girl, who always was squeamish when it came to red meat, honestly had gone off it after her, ‘All buffalo, all the time’ diet and I can respect that. She didn’t wan to have anymore, not because she felt badly for the buffalo, but because she honestly didn’t like it.
Some folks believe that relying on animals for our own purposes is wrong as well, and I can respect that too, providing they turn in all their leather shoes, handbags, belts and stop eating Jell-O. In my book, anything else is hypocritical and can therefore be legally mocked. (Mocking, by the way is 100% animal free)
Some day, it could happen that Lulu Belle or Short Stack decide that meat is not for them and as I say, providing that they mean it, I’ll back them up 100%. I’ll always back them up if they mean it. They can count on me like that.
On the other hand, if Lulu comes home from sixth grade some day and announces that she doesn’t like meat anymore, I’m sitting her down and getting out the video of her in the highchair with the turkey leg.
OM NOM NOM NOM!