Friday, February 19, 2010

Conversations with Micah: On Food

"Hello squishy belly."  Micah wraps his arms around my hips, buries his face in my tummy.  "I love you, squishy belly."

"What if I started running all the time and got really skinny Micah?   What would you think about that?"

He looks up at me, very serious.  His cheek is still resting on my belly as he ponders this.

Then, with all the passion of Micah:  "Eat! Eat! Eat!"

* * *

It's Ash Wednesday, and we've just returned home from services.  The quiche and the bread were not done in time -- everything always takes longer than it should -- so we had a snack and the kids are eating their meal now, late.  Julia Child's quiche, so much better than Molly Katzen's.  Heavy cream and butter are quickly climbing to the top of my list of life's greatest pleasures.  Also, white flour.  I've made a loaf and two baguettes, all white flour.  All of this, I know, goes against every bit of sound nutritional wisdom, but oh my.... I just can't stop.  I'm thinking of giving up risk-aversion for Lent.

I'm tidying the kitchen, wiping counters, loading the dish washer.  The kids are at the table in the dining room.

"Trixie?" says Micah.  "What's your favorite thing about this family?"

She has a fork-full of of cheddar-sausage quiche in one hand, a hunk of baguette in the other.  "The food," she says, between bites.

"Yeah, me too."

* * *
Dinner the next night.  Gratin with potatoes, cheese and pork sausage.  For some reason we have two dozen eggs in the fridge, and Julie is coming home with at least another dozen in the winter farm share tonight.  So I'm using up eggs like crazy.

Micah doesn't like the gratin, because he doesn't like potatoes, so he's eating another piece of quiche.

"Nial and Zach and I are the only ones in my class who eat healthy food," he says.

"Is that so?"  This is an interesting development.  Until very recently, he's been mostly horrified by his homemade lunches.  "The kids will laugh at me," he would moan, "if I bring that to school."  But when I relent, and buy him some awful yogurt in a squeeze tube or something, he doesn't actually eat it.  It's just about street cred.

When Trixie was Micah's age, she began a boycott of MacDonalds after I told her about industrial beef production.  It was an ethical boycott, though she didn't really like the food much either.  A couple of times on our road trip last summer we stopped at MacDonalds in desperation, and because Micah begged, but eventually even Micah declared he wouldn't eat there anymore.  "I just like the toys in the Happy Meals.  But that's not real food."

Apparently he has embraced being the kid with the healthy lunch.  "I'm teaching my friend Nassir to eat more healthy though."

"That's great Micah.  Has your teacher been talking to your class about eating healthy?"

"No, I just decided to teach Nassir."

"What did you tell him about eating healthy?"

"Like, he should eat his sandwich before his chips and snacks.  And his fruit, he should eat fruit.  Like that."

"That's great advice, Micah," I say.  "Maybe you should take your own advice, though."

He looks at me.

"You didn't eat your sandwich today.  And only part of your fruit."

He looks away, shrugs, the sly smile.  He is his own boy.  He will be a good man.


Sara said...

What an awesome post. He'll be an excellent man indeed.

Patrick said...

This makes me so happy, on so many levels. And in case you didn't already know this, I can tell you from experience that enjoying food together is a familial bond that only gets stronger over the years. I particularly marvel at the fact that six year old Micah has the insight to recognize that MacDonalds isn't real food, no matter how cool the little prizes may be.

Joanna said...

Oh, that brought tears to my eyes.

Lilian said...

Wonderful! I was going to write exactly what Sara said!

Providing and teaching our kids to eat
and enjoy "real food" is truly a gift that most family nowadays don't have.

My kids sometimes complained about their lunches, but they got used to it, thankfully (the school was tiny, though, and I worked there 3 days a week there for a year and we'd have "real food" most days -- rice & beans, pasta, etc. I had them have pizza once a week).