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Please Excuse My Bad Parenting

This is one of my recent Facebook posts:
Starvation, anorexia, dementia, severe depression and living in filth are imminent.
Read today that a previously supposedly healthy snack (microwave popcorn) is not as healthy as we think it is. Can’t eat that anymore. Can’t eat make-my-life-easier take outs; can’t buy ‘normal’ groceries; organic is not really organic; meat is hormone induced from some poor suffering animal; porridge is full of GMO; water has fluoride; at my age carbs are baaaaad; too much meat is worse; fats are a no-go; sugar is worse; cleaners are bad coz they make superbugs; cereal is not really made of anything except cardboard; coffee is filled with caffeine; tea has tannins; milk hasn’t been near a cow in its life and wholegrain is neither whole nor grain.
That leaves few options: from now on, I will only be drinking wine, but I give it a week before that turns out to be some sort of poison.
———–
We’ve all seen the emails and Facebook go-arounds of the fast food industry and how bad they are for us. No real meat, so much soya; distressed chickens; meat from donkeys and filled with MSG and who knows what else. Our drinks have too much sugar, too much phenylalanine or aspartame and probably traces of bugs. Decaf coffee uses chemicals to get it decaffeinated; and although bottled water is good, the plastic bottle it comes in, is probably not. There’s the constant debate over butter vs. margarine; fresh veggies vs. frozen vs. canned and I feel that we have few choices left in life when it comes to our food.
I follow the 80-20 rule when it comes to food: 80% good; 20% junk. So three times a day, at least six days a week, I make sure that my family is eating healthy balanced meals. The rest of the time I’m either not around them or I’m not in the mood to cook a meal and just want to take a break from thinking about what we’re all putting into our food holes.
Stretch has grown about half a meter in the past year, and I just can’t keep up with his teenage boy eating. Most days he’s like a grader just ploughing through the grocery cupboard or fridge. Fortunately (unfortunately for my budget) he’s not really into bread, so ten sandwiches after school are out. Perish the thought. He wants real food: some sort of previous alive animal protein, rice or potatoes and some veggies would be good. This at every meal. I’m thankful that I taught him to cook at a young age, but when it comes to dinner, whatever I was planning to make has been partially cooked and devoured by Stretch. At least he eats, I know. His first question when he bundles himself into the car at the end of the school day is “What’s for lunch? What’s for supper?”
Mouse is one of those pickers. It seems she’s constantly eating, but her portions are always small. She doesn’t really like meat, prefers to have bread with exotic spreads like olive tapenade or basil pesto, with avo and halloumi. BUT (and there’s always a but), she has an incredibly sweet tooth. Actually I think it’s the one extra tooth she’s been blessed with. I have to keep her away from the junk. Her favourite food is not anything made by me; no it’s all the fast food stuff and other junk.
When Stretch and Mouse were much younger, they would always beg for sweeties. They also knew that I kept them in the house, for a special treat. As kids are, anything they do well deserves a special treat. So I came up with a little plan (stolen from a friend): I bought them each a clear plastic jar. Let them decorate the jar, and took them to the shops once a week to fill the jars. I’d give them each about R20 and let them choose their sweets. It did help with their math as well. They had to buy sweets for seven days. If the sweets are finished in a day, that’s your problem. They did eventually learn to pace themselves. We no longer need the sweetie jars, but Mouse still has a hard time resisting the family treat box. I swear that box calls to her in her sleep.
What few people know about me is that I’ve been cooking for a family since I was about twelve years old. My mother went back to work, and left myself (and my brother when he was around) in charge of making dinner. She would leave a list of the foods I had to cook and I had to work it out from there. I don’t resent her for it, at all. I learned a lot like how to get creative with the same old foods. The thing is though, that once I had a family I found myself making three meals a day, and sometimes I just get plain bloody tired. There’s a lot of thought and planning that goes into making meals; starting with the shopping list, then the actual shopping, and eventually the cooking. I try to plan our meals a week or two in advance, but there’s days when I look at my oh-so-organised list and think “Ugh, I really don’t want to eat that today!”; so I end up back in the Pick n Pay buying something for dinner.
Let’s not forget how busy our lives are, especially at this time of year. End of year parties, the school nativity thing, random school meetings, fetching kids from exams (and they all finish at different times), and birthday parties for the unfortunate children who have birthdays in December during school holidays. Some days I hardly have time to pee let alone think about what we’re going to eat later.
Yes, I know all these fast foods and snacks and junk are not good for us, but please will you all excuse my bad parenting. I also need a life and some time off. This is why we have a take-out meal at least once a week. Why I let my kids eat and drink junk and why I sometimes close my eyes, take a deep breath and try not to think about the awful stuff we’re eating.
Anyway, what would life be without a bit of crap?

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