Don’t Sweat…Don’t Celebrate either.

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Ok. We all have heard of and possibly read, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. I haven’t read it, but I get the premise. I’m guessing the title told me too much for me to invest time in reading it. After all, it was a directive. Ok, won’t sweat it…done. Maybe if the title was “How Not to Sweat the Small Stuff” that would have motivated me to read it. The book tells of how to not let little things in life drive us crazy. Life is stressful enough. Why add to our stresses? We should aim to lighten the load. So my question is this: Why are we now celebrating nearly every damn thing?

This stream of though is motivated by the end of school season and the many “stepping up” ceremonies happening. What? You don’t know what a “stepping up ceremony” is? If you’re bright (and you must be because you are reading my blog) then by the time you finish this sentence, you’ve either figured it out via context or you’ve “googled it”. And now you know. Ha! Joke ‘s on you if you relied on Google to answer this apparently cultural question for you. Google is a great search engine, but it isn’t smart in the way that you need it to be to answer very specific questions. You can ask Siri or Alexa or some other random AI entity you rely on. I don’t trust them and I don’t use them, so I have no idea how they might answer you. If you’ve got a FOC (friend of color) who grew up “ghetto adjacent”, ask them. (I’ll wait.) They didn’t answer or understand your text? Ok…I’ll tell you. A “stepping up ceremony” is a celebration of a student completing one grade successfully and “stepping up” to the next grade. This is different (usually) from a true graduation. Graduations come with diplomas and a transition to another school. And they happen at milestone grades 5th (to middle school or Jr. High), 8th (to High School) and 12th (to college/university/military/job/walk the Earth).

Graduations I get. Well, mostly. The only graduations worth celebrating, in my opinion, are High School graduation and any college/advanced degree/trade school graduations that may follow. That marks one’s entry into adulthood. The expectation worth celebrating is that you are now equipped to take care of yourself. Yayy!  Upon graduation from High School a person is usually 18 and a legal adult. All of the excitement of being an adult commences with graduation from High School. But more and more, it seems like some of the “adulting” that used to come hand in hand with graduation actually arrives years before: getting a car, formal dances that look more like (and cost more like) weddings, over-the-top sweet 16 parties, quinceañeras, bar and bat mitvahs. Few have cotillions anymore, but I’ll include those as well. Ok…graduations…go ahead celebrate those. Some students struggle and work very hard to make it to those milestones. But ONE school year? No.

A typical school year is 180 days. Some of those days are half days or the tricky “early dismissal” which schools count as a full day even though students don’t stay from 8-3. Then there are the days a student was ill, snow days, fog days (they exist), heat advisory days (they exist too…some schools don’t have air conditioning and are too hot for conducive learning. This is a new thing. I remember sweating away 20% of my body weight in classrooms in Aug/Sept and then again in May/June.) So, maybe…maybe a kid with perfect attendance goes to school for 180 days. Yayy! Do we need to celebrate that a kid has accomplished this…with a party? Gifts, food, music, all the party accoutrements happen at “stepping up ceremonies”. Parents take photos. Parents congratulate themselves on social media. “We did it.” Really? We? Ok, yes. I get it because I used to teach. I know what a well invested parent goes through. I also know you do half of the homework and projects, so yeah…go ahead you’ve earned it about as much as the student has.

But is this really worth celebrating? I don’t know. Maybe in extenuating circumstances. Maybe Jeffrey had a really hard year wherein he really struggled. But don’t throw him a party. Make him a special dinner. Tell him you’re proud of him. Tell him to keep up the good work. You know…stuff you were probably telling him all school year to see him through. I fear that when we celebrate every little accomplishment, it takes the shine off of them. And it ramps up the expectations for celebrating the big things. If it is all “big stuff” there is no “small stuff”. So we shouldn’t sweat any of it. Unless it is REALLY BIG STUFF.

But no. We are having multiple showers/parties for one event: engagement shower/party, bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, rehearsal party, then the wedding and reception and sometimes a honeymoon send off party (yes…this is a thing!). Baby shower, Gender reveal, Push gifts, naming ceremony, Baptism/Bris/Christening and then the over-the-top first birthday. It is too much. Too much sweating stuff and celebrating stuff. We can’t stop and smell the roses because we are so distracted into smelling EVERYTHING. (Not to mention the costs involved in all of this celebrating. But that is a blog for another day.)

What about our lives has become so sad and low that we feel the need to celebrate so much? We’ve gone from a trend of not “sweating” to over “sweating”. Are we celebrating to ignore the things to which we should be paying attention? I don’t know. I don’t have answers, just a lot of questions. I am not a celebratory person. I bet you’ve figured that out by now. I acknowledge. If something great happens, I’ll raise a glass, maybe even send a card. But I am not getting dressed up, hair done, nails done, etc., unless this is going to be a life changing event worth celebrating. “Stepping up” from third grade to fourth grade doesn’t warrant my effort nor a gift.

I miss you.

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Sigh. Just sitting here thinking about all the foods I miss. Food conjures up so many memories. Sometimes I swear I can smell foods I haven’t had in decades. Where did all these lovelies go?

Unlike a past (human) love or an old song, we can’t relive food favorites. Sure, we can revisit a restaurant or make Grandma’s recipe, but somehow it isn’t quite the same. Some small changes make a huge difference: our aging taste buds, the company we kept then or keep now, the pan is not the same, the source of ingredients is different, the quality has gotten worse (or in some cases, better and that even changes things), the ambience…so many reasons.

I miss that corner store I’d run to after school, the bakery near church, the steak sub place that had THE BEST bread and perfect fries (and they delivered!), the seafood carry-out that was the most delicious messy thing ever put in styrofoam…mmmmmm. I miss my auntie’s cake and M’dear’s fried chicken. I miss my great-aunt’s chitterling preparation (even though I rarely ate any). I miss Mr. Stoftee in Brooklyn (old Brooklyn, not this hipster concoction).

I miss the hotels downtown that Mr. and I used to pop into for Happy Hour. They had carving stations with pit beef…yum. And the rolls. We’d fill up on the complimentary buffet, have a few drinks and then sit and wait for the bus home, laughing and talking the entire time.

I even find myself missing the types of budget friendly meals I used to make when time, money and my skill set was in short supply. (I miss you chicken cacciatore.) I’ll have to revisit some of these. This was good food and it was abundant. Now I know better, it will be “cleaner” and healthier (sometimes), but still tasty.

Of course, “nothing gold can stay” and new treasures are just around the corner. But if you have a food that you like a lot, enjoy the moment. Savor the experience. Fond food memories are better than horrible ones, after all.

I weep

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I’ve learned a lot about how truly IGNORANT people are about the country they live, work, and vote in. It is so very sad. I don’t know where to lay the blame: parents, schools, individual motivation to learn. I think people really thought they didn’t need to pay attention in History/Government/Civics/Economics classes because it “didn’t interest” or “bored” them. Well guess what, now other people, some well-intended, many not, will be making decisions on your behalf because YOU decided that YOUR LIFE was going to be fine in the hands of others. Or worse, you are making poor decisions in the voting booth (if you even bother to vote) because you were too busy to be educated and informed about things that affect you.
 
And guess what? If you are over 18, it is f**king hard to learn all that stuff teachers tried to teach you NOW. Really, whose got that kinda time like we had in school? (*And there was so much more…they really can’t fit everything you need to know, absorb, understand into a school year for the years you are there. And in their defense and yours, you are expected to be able to comprehend something intended for very intelligent adults who already know this stuff (politicians…and sadly they are lacking in knowledge as well…have you heard some of these people talk about what they do, what they believe, why they take the actions they take?) How do you catch up when you are constantly bombarded with misinformation for sources you possibly can’t or shouldn’t trust?
You can learn. Tiny bites, bit by bit. Heck, take a class (there are some free ones), visit the library (some librarians would love to help you), call your former teacher (be brave), join a group, get one of those “for dummies” books! There are options besides ignorance. Once you’ve learned a little something, start asking questions. And don’t just accept one answer or the one you thought it was, or the one that aligns to your way of thinking. Listen to opposing views and voices. Find common ground. Really hear people who don’t live where you live, look like you look, have what you have. Turn off the TV for a week or more. Next try ignoring the internet for a week (this is a tough one). Go to a bookstore and look at how many books there are about so many differing opinions on the same topics. Listen to the soundtrack from Hamilton (that will at least get you some kind of foundation).
I don’t have all of the answers. I just think it is terribly sad how little so many of us know about something so very important. Do better people, do better.

He Tries

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Ok…so I’ve been “happily married” for 17 years. We lived together for six years prior to that. So, in total, I have been living with this man for just about half of my life and nearly all of my adult life. Why the quotes, you ask? Because marriage is hard work, even the good ones. Marriage is about compromise and putting up with the bad stuff. Happy marriages seem rare these days, but they aren’t. Happy marriages are real relationships with all of the ups and downs of having to live with another person.

That said, this post (and many to follow because I think I am on to something here) is about my dear husband and his relationship with food. Oh, and how my relationship with food affects our relationship. And to make things even more interesting, I may throw in a few stories about our seven year old son’s relationship with food. Why? Because it is all pretty darn funny and I am so sure people of all stripes can relate to what I witness in my home.

I am the cook in my small family. Not because I am the woman/wife/mother, but because I enjoy cooking and pretty much everything involving food. The husband likes to eat and he wants the food to be plentiful and tasty (not necessarily in that order). I am the hunter AND the gatherer. He is largely the payer and the carrier of groceries. His taste have evolved over time, in a good way. I’d like to take some credit for that. When we met, he would eat just about anything that was affordable and plentiful…taste and nutrition be damned. Now he is a bit more particular. I’m guessing with age comes wisdom, so he may have done better without me, but not this much better. Sure, he still will scarf down nearly an ENTIRE package of Nutter Butter cookies, but at least he’ll feel some shame about it. And at least now he can tell a piece of fish from a pork chop (seriously, that happened).

I’ve spent years trying to convince my husband that cooking is not difficult. I mean, sure, it can be. Some dishes are complicated and take a lot of time and attention. Others, not so much. Even those of us who cook, don’t always feel like being bothered. Sometimes I want lasagna, but I settle for grilled cheese. (Note: I’ve started making what I call “pizza grilled cheese” for the kid and that is really satisfying!) Anyway, the husband isn’t buying it. He very often will quiet his hunger with several PB&J sandwiches…WHEN THERE IS PLENTY OF OTHER FOOD IN THE HOUSE. You can tell by the caps that this really vexes me. I get especially heated when there are delicious leftovers available that merely need to be heated (and before you go there, my husband will eat leftovers well past their prime. I’m talking stuff that I only left in the fridge because I didn’t want it to linger and stink up the trash.)

Just this week, he found himself hungry well past the hours that “the kitchen closed” in our house. Usually, I give him some suggestions (which he ignores) but this night I did not. I sometimes like to just let him go and see what he comes up with. He saunters into the kitchen and comes back to the living room. “I’m gonna make a breakfast burrito. You want one?” “No, thank you.” Good choice, I’m thinking. Eggs are a good late night choice and the breakfast burrito is an item he is learning to master. So he is in there, tinkering, and appears a few minutes later with what looks like a burrito with a generous cloud of sour cream on top. “Want some?”, he asks. “What kind of cheese did you use?” I say. “Oh, no cheese.” “And salsa?” I ask. “No salsa”, he says. “So…you’ve essentially got a scrambled egg wrapped in a tortilla blanket covered in sour cream?” I say. “Uh, yep…I guess so.” He laughs and shoves his egg snuggie into his mouth. It was funny and sad and cute all at the same time. He polished it off in moments.

And this is what marriage is sometimes. I didn’t have to cook for him. He managed to make something that only needed to satisfy him. He graciously offered to share. I sensibly turned down his offer. All is well.

Below are the two non-recipes mentioned. (Because it is nearly 2am, the CUBS just won the World Series, and  I’m too lazy right now to write out formal recipes.) If you can cook even just a little, you can make either of these. They are great for a quick bite.

Breakfast burrito: tortilla, eggs, cheese (grated), salsa, sour cream and whatever else you like in your burrito. That is the joy of the breakfast burrito. I often throw in leftover chicken, sausage, fajita veggies…whatever.

Pizza grilled cheese: spread a “schmear” of pizza sauce (or pasta sauce) on one side of two slices of bread, add a few slices of cheese (mozzarella, fontina, provolone, etc.) if you’ve got some pepperoni or salami around toss a bit in there too. Then make a grilled cheese…voila…or presto…pizza grilled cheese.

Guinea pigs, no!

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Thanksgiving is only nine (9) weeks away. I know many do not want to think about it. I mean, come on…I too am one of those people annoyed that stores were setting up Halloween displays on Labor Day weekend. But the truth of the matter is that Thanksgiving is, if not the best, one of the most favored holidays…especially if you are a lover of fall’s food flavors.

To that end, I beg of you, DO NOT experiment on your Thanksgiving guests. Have I blogged about this before? If so, sorry…it bears repeating. It is fine to present a new dish along with the usual suspects (please serve the usual suspects), just try it out first. I suggest that now is the time to start planning your menu. If you are including a new recipe, make it now, serve it to your family, see how it goes over. That way, if it doesn’t pass muster, you can move on to some other item that tickles your fancy.

Go with a basic side dish with familiar ingredients. Know your audience. Here are some ideas: http://www.food.com/ideas/favorite-thanksgiving-side-dishes-6374?c=24901 Generally, you can’t go wrong with a potato, sweet potato or veggie side. I find Thanksgiving tables to be heavy on the meat and carbs. If the crowd is large, consider those who are going to use your buffet as an excuse to overindulge. Variety is the spice of life. I like balance and the move vegetable based dishes, the better.

If you’re not a cook, STAY IN YOUR LANE. You can still present a lovely spread. Find out now where to order a good, farm raised turkey. Even better, find out where you can buy one already roasted, smoked or fried. Don’t like turkey, you say? Ok, but if you’re having guests, SERVE TURKEY. It is fine to just get a breast or parts and serve them. Then present some other entree meat: duck, lamb, beef, venison, rabbit, fish…up to you. People will expect turkey. How about a “Thanksgiving” appetizer: a roasted Brussels sprout, a cube of turkey, a cube of stuffing, a cube of jellied cranberry sauce–on a skewer!? If you’re only feeding those who you know don’t like turkey in any form, then you are off the hook.

For some of us, this is the dinner we start thinking about as soon as September begins to wind down. It conjures up fond memories of grandparents, friends, good food. If you are “of a certain age” and have more Thanksgivings behind you, than ahead of you, these dinners become all the more sentimental. If you are a younger member of a family, now is the time to offer assistance to the elder cooks. Give them the right to refuse, but it should be clear that Grans or Aunties may not be up to the Herculean task that you merely enjoy eating. You don’t cook or no one wants you to cook? No problem. You can still help. Set up, clean up, bring disposables, send invitations (spring for postage), order baked goods, clean up afterwards. Pulling off a successful holiday meal is quite the undertaking. Our seasoned family members shouldn’t have to keep doing it. Besides, how will the others learn what is required by only knowing what is expected?

Now, while I warn y’all not to turn your guests (or fellow attendees) into guinea pigs, if you would like to cook/bring a new item, don’t be afraid. However, again, know your diners and sample the item in advance. One of the worst things is when a new dish is presented and the presenter is asked “what’s in it” or “how’s it taste” and can’t be given an answer.

Oh…and I didn’t forget you my friends who are M-O-T. Same rules apply to Rosh Hashana. Though, I imagine since the menu is flush with traditional, biblical food items maybe this is less of an issue? I don’t know, have yet to be invited to a seder (hint, hint). Happy New Year.

Food experimentation can be fun. But it can also be tragic. Heed my warning. There are myriad options out there. Prepare a dish people will talk about well into the future…for good reason, not because of the Urgent Care visit that followed. (FYI, food safety info can be found at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/BuyStoreServeSafeFood/ucm255180.htm )

 

Hello, lover.

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I don’t know why. But I do remember when…I decided I like raw oysters. It was St. Valentine’s Day weekend 2016. I didn’t have plans. I’ve been married a long time to a man who is about as romantic as the gutters on my house. So my FAVORITE cousin came over for the weekend and we did what we do: drink too much and eat good stuff.

We really enjoy seafood. And since I live in a state that has access to some of the freshest, local creatures from the ocean, bay, stream, rivers and lakes, we often indulge during my FAVORITE cousin’s visits. I’d been looking at posts from my preferred fish monger and they made the raw oysters look so good. I was clearly going through something, because in years past I’d look at a photo of raw oysters and almost immediately feel a little queasy. I’ve tried them in the past, at the urging of friends, but couldn’t get past the slimy, briny texture of this bivalve. Oh, I would eat them roasted, fried and in stuffing, but NOT raw. Again, I don’t know why, but this time, I wanted some.

Now, my husband is not romantic. But he loves me dearly. So, I can get him to run all kinds of errands to make me happy on St.Valentine’s Day. I take what I can get. I send him to the fish monger. My FAVORITE cousin was in tow with a much liked bottle of good vodka. What better luxury (because I don’t yet like caviar…stay tuned, that may change also) to accompany this vodka than some lovely oysters? Now, I know there was other food. There must have been because: 1.I didn’t know for sure I’d like them; 2. I always make a buffet of food when we’re drinking; 3. combined, we’re pretty ravenous eaters, so we need more than oysters; 4. my kid, while not a picky eater, is not quite ready for raw oysters. Whatever else there was to eat, I know we ate that first. Then we decided to end the meal with these lovelies. For the record, I don’t remember what kind they were…VA salts I think. There was also lemon wedges and good cocktail sauce to accompany the little yummy bits that were presented shucked. in half of the shell. on a bed of rock-salt. Oh…and there was freezer temperature vodka on standby. (I figured, just in case I still don’t like them, the vodka would help me recover.)

Before you judge me prematurely, I don’t need liquor to enjoy food. I tried one oyster with just a splash of lemon. It was ok. Not as bad as I remember. Was almost sans taste at all. Was like a bit of the ocean with essence of lemon. (I love anything lemon!) I had a second with lemon and cocktail sauce. Even better. Note: this whole time, my three dudes (and probably the dog) were staring at me as if I were trying opium. They waited for a reaction. I was good…they were good. Proud of my bravery and accomplishment, now I wanted to have an “oyster shooter”. Again the stares. I put an oyster in a shot glass, added a bit of freshly squeezed lemon, plopped on a bit of the peppery sweet cocktail sauce and topped it all with a good splash of ice cold vodka. Down the hatch! Mmmmmmmmmmm! That was the best thing so far. The flavors swirled in my mouth like a happy playground of edibles. SO tasty. Now the kid was convinced and wanted to try. Sorry…seven is too young for oyster-vodka shooters in my house. This isn’t Russia. I did let him try one with lemon and cocktail sauce. He wasn’t sold.

So, it turns out I do like raw oysters. They have to be fresh, cold and I have to trust the source. It helps to have good company and yummy accompaniments. I was bummed to find out that I fell in love at the tail end of availability and didn’t get to enjoy this treat much after my St. Valentine’s rendezvous. But now it is September and according to lore, they are best enjoyed in months that end in r (or “bruary”). I am anxious to have them again and try my hand at toppings like garlic butter, chipotle mayo, and mignonettes of varying types.

Just goes to show you that as with love, sometimes you never know…it just happens.

 

Pantry / Fridge

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So…it became clear that I have a thing with cheese. I seem to never have fewer than five types of cheese in my fridge at any given time. Funny because I am lactose intolerant (but apparently very cheese tolerant…well…depending on the cheese. But sometimes I am willing to be a dairy martyr).

Another oddity…mustard. I have at least four types of mustard on hand. Not sure why. I do not use mustard in everything. I mean, it’s not like it is salt or garlic. But I do like mustard. It adds a certain something to so many dishes. A little goes a long way, it is fat free, briny, tasty, rich. It also mixes well with sweet things like honey, jam, syrup, etc.

You know what I like with my cheese? Mustard. Hahahaha.

I guess I have these items in multiples because I like variety. I also like subtle changes. A hot dog with yellow mustard is slightly different than a hot dog with brown mustard. Honey mustard chicken with whole grain mustard is a bit fancier than chicken with regular honey mustard.

And cheeses…well, cheese offers so many options. Alone, with bread or crackers, as grilled cheese, melted into a sauce with pasta, draped lovingly over a burger or sprinkled gracefully on cauliflower. Cheese never lets me down.

And that gets me to wondering…if you cook (or don’t) what item is in your pantry or fridge in multiples? Olives, cookies, salt, vinegar (oh…I have about six vinegar types too…that will be another post)? Tell me, I want to know.

Challenges

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As the song goes: “This is dedicated to the one I love.”

Anyone who knows me knows that I am prone to break rules. Not in ways that give me a criminal history, but rather in ways that make me …well…me. What that means is I follow my own lead most often. And I bristle instinctively at trends and being told what to do, especially if it seems like a lot of other people are blindly doing said thing. So it should come as no surprise that I really abhor social media “challenges”. Some of them are just stupid (see the “cinnamon challenge”), others are promoting a cause (see the “ice bucket challenge”) and others are well intended self promotion (see the “relationship/Love Your Spouse challenge”).

Now about this last one. I love to see happily married couples making a go of it. We married folks acknowledge that it is often part dream, part nightmare. In the best relationships the ratio likely hovers around 90/10 (with days of fluctuation). Every coupling is unique with its own mix of joys and struggles. We have a surprising lot in common. Whenever I have blunt conversations with married people, I am happy to know that I am not alone in feeling the way I do about so many things I deal with in my marriage. So, I feel an affinity with other spouses especially those who have been together for a decade or more.

I am not a relationship exhibitionist. I love my husband and he is my best friend (mostly). I like his company and engaging in thoughtful conversation with him. We share so much (food, funds, funnies, responsibilities, etc.) We are often seen together socially, but sometimes we aren’t out together socially. People like to read into this. I don’t know why. Some people think we are joined at the hip and go EVERYWHERE together (we aren’t and we don’t). Others question the status of our marriage because they often see one of us without the other (we can’t win with some folks). We do enjoy some of the same things, but not always the same people. Sometimes I have to pressure him to spend time with people he’d rather not be around and sometimes the pressure is on me to do the same. On the most perfect of days we either both want to go somewhere, or we both just throw in the towel and stay home. Here’s what you need to know about us. We are often both home. We are NOT together at home. We have a small, three bedroom house and manage not to see one another for hours at a time. That is what happens when two introverts get married. My mother calls and often asks me “Where is Chris?” and my response is “I don’t know.” This befuddles her. Sometimes he’s home. Sometimes I think he’s home and he’s gone out without telling me. Sometimes he is merely out in the backyard, walking the dog or on a bike ride. Who knows? I had to give up needing to know. He grew up a very independent, only child with self-consumed parents, so he is used to being free to do as he pleases. I grew up with a sister close to my age and a mother who was controlling and tended to “hover” (before that was even a thing). It has taken me twenty years to get used to his way and depending on the day and the incident, I’m still not comfortable with it. All of this to say, we don’t put our relationship “on Front Street”. We are happy together even when we’re not together.

So…I’ve been challenged to show my love for my spouse on Facebook. I’m not going to do it. Let me tell you why. First, I just don’t like those kinds of things. It’s not what I do. Secondly, I am not going to pressure my married friends to do it either. Thirdly, I’m not going to showcase my marriage for reasons that aren’t clear to me. I know I’m happily married. Friends and family who know us, know that we are happily married (I hope. LOL Clearly from what I’ve heard we often present in a way that is exceptional. That’s just who and how we are. We’re good.) Lastly, we don’t have many photos of the two of us together. And we have A LOT of pictures! Many of him, many of me…few of “us”. I guess one of us is usually holding the camera. And that’s another thing. We are old school, film in camera folks. We do also have digital cameras and smart phones now. But we aren’t an “us-ie” couple. We don’t take photos of ourselves when we are out together. We are out, enjoying one another or the company of friends. This doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, so maybe we should be memorializing these moments. I like to see my coupled friends’ posts. You all just won’t see any from me.

Also, to all of my friends married or single (by choice or circumstance), I wish you the love of a good friend. That may be a spouse/partner…it may be a lifelong friend. If you are alone, my you never feel lonely. If you are a half of a couple that only brings you pain, find the strength to be the happy whole person instead.

Marriage is a challenge of its own. I don’t need a forced “challenge” with rules about days, posts and tagging people to add to the work I do every day. Those of you who are into it, enjoy! Sincerely…have fun. I know there are plenty of people who feel as I do and I’ve got to say something on behalf of my people who just say “nah” to this challenge.

 

Buck up Buttercup

I don’t know why I don’t like Chopped Jr. but I don’t. Sometimes it is the crying…buck up buttercup, you COMPETED on a cooking show and talked mad stuff before you got chopped. LOL

Generally, I don’t like any of the successful competition shows that decide to ruin it with children. Seriously, I can barely tolerate the adults on these shows, but at least they have had time to hone their crafts and feel like they may be good enough to compete against their peers and earn a prize. Why don’t I think this is ok for kids? Well…let’s explore that a bit.

The kids are usually pre-teens or teenagers. If one is twelve years old, when were they playing and becoming healthy children? “I can’t play Legos Alex, I’m perfecting my omelette. See you at school tomorrow.” I know practice makes perfect and many children have talents and skills that they master and then compete. For this to be exploited on commercial television though?

They seem to be under a lot of pressure to perform by their parents. “I want to win this for my Mom. She is a single parent and she has always been there for me.” Sweet. But lots of kids are in single parent families. They all would like to make their parents proud. I’ve yet to hear one kid say “My parents don’t think I’m good at modeling and I’m hear to prove them wrong!” But then again, maybe that is why the kids on these shows are younger…lol…once they get to 15, they might tell the viewer more than we want to know.

Many of these kids are not presently working in their field of expertise. There is the exception of the child who works in the parents’ restaurant or bakery. However, generally, these kids are big fish in small ponds. They are constantly being told that they are “awesome” or “the best” and then they meet other equally talented kids and you can tell by the looks on their faces that the concept of others with talent is new to them. I’ve seen a few well-adjusted kids handle this well. They are complimentary and gracious. Others just are too cocky to be so young. These are the ones I secretly wish will be defeated early, so I don’t have to listen to how great they think they are. Ugh.

All of these shows are judged by adults. Why? How about make it really fun and have kids judge kids. They’d be really honest and funny. Adults who have a lot of experience and sometimes lofty expectations are not the people who should be judging. Additionally, I think having to face and adult to account for your performance is probably enormously intimidating. That is probably half of the reason for the crying. Just another adult they have disappointed. Kid judges may be more empathetic, “Here Joey, have a chocolate milk and a cookie. Wanna play games in the green room?”

All that said, it is quite impressive to see a kid plate a dish better than I’ve seen in some restaurants. I have friends who can’t boil water successfully.

Thankfully, the universe is filled with TV programming and no one is making me watch kids compete. On occasion I choose to (or am just too lazy to turn)…just to remind me how much I don’t really like these show, I guess.

 

 

Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day?

As we approach Mothers’ Day, can we all just agree that if we are here, we were born of a woman and have a mother? Some mothers are wonderful, some are horrible, some are somewhere in between. Those who have wonderful mothers believe theirs to be the best and those who have horrible mothers believe theirs to be the worst. Mothers’ Day is NOT a competition. One is not better, stronger, more courageous because she is a “single mother”…every single mother is a “single mother”. I am married to a man, but I AM the single mother in my nuclear family. Married women don’t necessarily “have it easier” because they are married and single moms don’t necessarily “have it harder”. (Some single moms I know have a network of support that I wish everyone had!) I know couples that are both women, but in my eyes, they are both single (as in individual) mothers to their children. Mom’s who never had the help of the father are also rowing a different boat than those moms who have a helpful co-parent. Every situation is different. Oh, and Dads who are doing it alone are NOT mothers. You get your kudos on Fathers’ Day. Also mothers who are parenting alone, by choice or circumstance, y’all are NOT fathers.

Also, a special shout out to those with horrible mothers. It must be a struggle I could not imagine. My mother drives me batty sometimes, but I love her dearly and recognize that she does the best that she can with the skills she has. I am who I am in part, because of her. And that is not too shabby. That said, if one has an absent or terrible mother, let that be. Don’t question why someone didn’t spend the day with, call, make dinner for, take out to brunch, go target shooting or Target shopping with their mother.
Mothers who adopt are mothers. PERIOD. I don’t really have much to say about this except if you question this as fact, you may be an ass.
I don’t know how a trans mother treats Mother’s day. Especially if she and her family used to celebrate her on Father’s Day. I’m guessing that is an individual choice and varies based on the family (as with all the other mothers). Likewise with trans fathers. If/when I find out more, I’ll let you know via my Mothers’ Day rant next year.
Some people no longer have a living mother. Some of these people miss their mothers desperately and Mother’s Day is a hard one. Some are glad she’s gone. Don’t judge…just sayin’.
I think once you become a mother, Mother’s Day belongs to you. Not your mother, your grandmother, your mother-in-law, or your God-mother. You shouldn’t have to share it with five other women UNLESS YOU WANT TO DO SO.
Some mothers like to have a fuss made on their day. Some do not. FIND OUT before you go planning and get your feelings hurt. Mothers of little ones might like dandelions and burnt toast. Some would appreciate a day free of the little ones. (Just being honest. Especially if she is at home with little ones 24/7). Some mothers with older children may like the house cleaned, yard work done or dinner prepared. While some others may want a fancy dinner out. And mothers, yes…they should know what you’d like, but why risk it? There is no harm in gently painting a picture of what your ideal Mother’s Day would like (hopefully well in advance and not while you’re reading the card they got you).
Another special hug to mothers who have lost children. This too is an unimaginable pain. She may have miscarried, she may have lost a child to illness, violence, or tragic twist of fate. She may have a child who took their own life. She will always be a mother and she may celebrate the life of one now gone or mourn on this day. If you know one of these mothers, reach out to her but also give her whatever space she may need on this day. Also, there are women who always wanted to be mothers, but are not. Some are Aunties or God-mothers, or just good friends. These women sometimes feel a little blue on mothers day too. Tread lightly.
And lets not forget those who choose NOT to be mothers. They are fine with their choice and don’t need anyone harassing them about “when” they’re going to have children or “why” they don’t want/never had any.
Lastly, women (and men) with pets. You may be filling some maternal void with your living responsibility, but unless you birthed it and it is of the same species, you are not its mother. Don’t expect cards and gifts and don’t buy your own and say they are from your “babies”. Ugh. There should be a “Pet Parent Day” or something for you. I think caring for a creature is a big deal and requires a lot of time, love, spirit, energy, money, etc.,…y’all need a day. Mothers’ Day is not it.
That said. Do you. Don’t overdo it. Don’t under do it. It is a contrived holiday that (like most of them) has gotten WAY out of hand. Good luck (especially to all the spouses and kids).