Thursday, October 12, 2017

Eat Your Spinach... But Only If You Want To...

Remember when you were 8 years old? OK, I get it. I don’t remember being 8 either. If not, use your imagination. You will easily conjure up a situation where your mother sternly said: Eat your spinach! Or some such thing.

In the old days children were best seen and not heard. They also did what they were told. And they mostly ate what was presented to them.

Is that halcyon era coming to an end? Consider this: a woman who works as a health coach in Florida is being fined and threatened with prison for offering advice about dieting. The state considers her an unlicensed dietician. Apparently, in order to give advice about food intake, you now need to be licensed, credentialed and registered. Otherwise, you are running afoul of the bureaucracy and will be fined, even imprisoned. (via Maggie’s Farm)

Next they will be coming for the mothers who tell their children what to eat.

We recall that when Lenore Chu sent her three-year-old to school in Shanghai, the boy was forced by his teacher to eat eggs... even though he did not like eggs. Chu was horrified. You were horrified. It was child abuse, pure and simple. In a country that allows children to decide their gender and that gives them puberty blocking hormones, we get lathered up over a mouthful of eggs.

Anyway, in our supposedly free country, a Florida health coach is being pursued by the bureaucracy for giving dietary advice. In China, supposedly not a free country, a teacher is granted discretion over how she establishes decorum in her classroom.

These thoughts came to mind while reading a Carolyn Hax column this morning. A couple had written to Hax because their eight-year-old son decided to swear off meat; he did not want to be complicit with killing animals.

For your edification:

My 8-year-old son decided to become a vegetarian because he doesn’t like the idea of killing animals. He’s kept it up for about three months. It’s slightly inconvenient in terms of going out to eat and having to prepare different things.

Recently I said something about it and my wife said, “I wish you’d talked to me before you made this decision.” She’s also suggested a couple of times we just don’t tell him meat is in something or commented that he’s not getting all the nutrients he needs but can’t specifically name anything he’s not getting (I make an effort to make sure his diet is balanced).

I’m just not sure how to respond from here. We’re usually on the same page and of course both parents should make decisions involving the kids, but I don’t feel like it’s even our decision to make. My son made it and at 8 I think he’s capable of deciding he doesn’t like animals being killed for his food.

— My Son Likes Lettuce

The answer is: send him to Shanghai and let Teacher Chen deal with it.

Unfortunately, the normally sensible and intelligent Hax punts on this one. She praises the boy for making up his own mind at age 8. With a wee bit more discernment she would have understood that his little mind has been brainwashed by a teacher and that he is simply repeating what he was taught in his classroom. There is no such thing as a child, or probably even an adult, who makes up his mind free of all influence.

Another curiosity in this letter: the chief caregiver and food preparer seems to be the husband—though, for all I know, the boy has two mothers. Anyway, the husband made this decision without consulting with the child’s mother. To me that feel abnormal.

In America, where we believe that eight-year-olds have moral agency, we have an epidemic of eating disorders. For my part, not being a licensed, registered, certified, credentialed nutritionist I cannot tell you with absolute certainty that the child is missing out nutritionally, but I suspect that he is. Besides, a boy who refuses to eat hamburgers is in bigger trouble that any of the participants know.

As I said, send him to Shanghai and let Teacher Chen deal with the problem. If not that, find the boy a father.


Jack Fisher said...

My objection to "Teacher" (a job description, not a title) Chen was that if Chen injured my kid by physically forcing him to eat something, "Dad" Fisher would rip his lungs out.

You don't need an authoritarian douche to deal with this tail wagging the dog situation.

Anonymous said...

Seems like it would have been easy enough to achieve the result the teacher wanted by just leaving the child's plate of eggs on a counter or table ((every day) and waiting until he was hungry enough to eat them. More humane p, less traumatic and even easier for the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, the idea is: you will bend to my will.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

don't know about 8 specifically, but I remember being a strongly self-directed child. So if some magical "conviction" appeared in my under-developed brain, I was quite sure no one could make me do anything I didn't want to do, and if they tried, they'd have to be willing to pay an disproportionately high price, at least until their misery equaled mine. Now-a-days you might call this "setting boundaries".

Like I remember one time when I perhaps age 6 I stayed at a cousin's home for a week, and was compelled to change clothes I liked, but which were not church appropriate. I fully knew I would lose the fight by physical strength, but I knew the important thing wasn't winning. It was to make life miserable for others who think they know better than me. You can wear down benevolent people this way at least, and I never met an evil person, or anyone without some conscience I could try to invoke.

Anyway in this case, it never occurred to me to become a vegetarian, but I do think the feelings of animals are important. So 2 years ago when Joni Ernst running for Senate from Iowa talked of castrating hogs as a child, it helped me imagine why some children might threaten to murder their parents in their sleep. I'm sure I wouldn't do it myself, but the important thing is the parents don't know that.

Jack Fisher said...

AO, some things never change.