cha-cha-changes…and the chicken nugget kids

April 28, 2012

It feels like overnight I have been dropped into a world calling for active change (besides my kindness work, of course). This scares me…it overwhelms me…I start running around in my head trying to figure out what I should do, where I fit, wonder if I fit, worry we have to start NOW…and in the middle of all the tizzy, some tiny bits of clarity have been miraculously somehow, even despite my crazy head, been floating to the surface. So look for a few posts on the subject in the near future…today, all change reminded me of was chicken nuggets.

I remember, so long ago, I was at a Valentine’s Day party when Josiah was just in preschool. We were fixing food plates for the kids and I looked down at the heart shaped red plate and staring back at me was a slice of pizza and chips. That’s it. I looked over at my friend who was quietly slicing up cucumbers and cutting down tiny broccoli trees right next to the pizza and chips for her son.

I started the terrible parent dialogue in my head, you know the one…

“OMG, when did we become the family with the chicken nugget and macaroni and cheese kids? I thought we were totally gonna be the sushi and crab bisque family? ”

You know the kids that eat and try magical and delicious exotic dishes because their parents introduced just the right foods at the right time from the start? And I tried, oh I did and still do…I made baby food and listened to foodies, and watched organic food commercials and went on food kicks….but somewhere along the way, I got another job, and laundry piled and had another baby and  went out to eat and had drinks spilled on my lap from reaching/fast said baby and just wished the freakin’ french fries would  come so my kid would eat and I could finish telling my man about the very important TED Talk I watched 10 minutes of about toxins in our food. And I felt slightly justified that my kid still loved fruit…and tried to ignore that fact he hated anything green and that I was a shitty parent…

…until the Valentine’s pizza plate because I realized slowly but surely, I had given up on any hope of change. Because it was too far gone, or took more energy than I had to give, or that it was easier in some strange way to claim bad parenthood than to try, because my kids were doomed to a life of poor nutrition…and it was all so dramatic, as mothers seem to get, even busy, harried mothers, it’s what we do. (or if you are just me, and your life is dramatic and care this deeply about EVERYTHING-peas, injustice, and the right ribbon on the ding dong ditch flowers)


But something about that day and my friend cutting up tiny broccoli trees, (and she was indeed going to point out the wonder that broccoli looks like tiny trees to her four year old) shifted something inside of me about change. She had a chicken nugget kid too, but she still offered a green thing on that plate, every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

She never knew when and if or what he would try…but she believed it was worth trying. It was small and insignificant but consistent and hopeful. I realized the whole world of problems is like a giant plate of nuggets, we may not be able to solve it all in one fell swoop but the world is worth offering some broccoli to, over and over again. Almost everything good starts some where with someone believing it may be possible…and believing in the people around them, seeing and claiming something no one else has yet.

So I am happy to report that over time some members of my family no longer gag at the sight of something green on their plate and others will even take a few bites (some with a bribery of dessert) and the entire family will now eat chicken ceasar salad slathered in dressing and fluffy croutons for a real main dish dinner…and there are less chicken nuggets in the repertoire  and more whole foods all around.

But  that one simple quiet act by a wise mother created change in me… I know now it all matters, each step we take, no matter how small. It leaves the world and all we hold a beautiful place to start.

*Lyra shockingly started eating the bag of peas in our photo shoot, I know, who knew?! 

9 Responses to “cha-cha-changes…and the chicken nugget kids”

  1. Tess Hoff Says:

    Patience- Sometimes you outdo yourself! This one is lovely! ❤

  2. This is WONDERFUL! So true and so good for all to read as a reminder about just how important the little steps really can be. Thank you P!:)

  3. anne Says:

    oh the pressure we put on ourselves….. I have also found that ranch dressing helps quite a bit. Keep up the good work girl, you are doing so many small things with great love 🙂 and making a difference in so many ways and lives.

  4. Whozat Says:

    My daughter is very positive about the fruits and veggies, right until they hit her mouth 🙂 but she is looooving this:

    and hopefully more and more healthy things will actually make their way into her mouth and her tummy 🙂

  5. Jen Bailey Says:

    My 6yr old has Asperger’s Syndrome & sensory issues with food. His diet consists of maybe 3 things that are mainly light brown or orange-y in color. Green foods are a major challenge & I’ve felt like a crap parent on many occasions because of that. But I let alot of that go & I adore the idea of small little steps of hope. Thanks as always for your poignancy & wisdom. : )

  6. zoomaru Says:

    With broccoli and baby carrots, I started off only putting 1 or 2 small ones on my girl’s plate. It was easy to say, okay, you have to eat both of those, but they’re small. and as that got to be routine, I started putting 4 or 5 without comment on your plate. And with mine, I have finally learned that if I ask if she’d like something, she’ll turn it down. instead I have to just put it on her plate and ask her to try some. This parenting thing is a learning experience for all of us! Once we’re perfect, the kid will grow right out of our zone of competency into uncharted territory, like tweendom.

  7. Nancy Sotham Says:

    I don’t even know you and I can tell you are an amazing mother. And writer. And kindness worker.

  8. abphoto Says:

    baby steps was the only way we ever could have tackled our change in eating. so far, so good. wonderful post.

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