My parents have a place in Florida, a modest, unassuming bungalow, not far from the beaches along the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. My son, who has been 15 times in his short 7 years, refers to it as the Florida cottage. For the first time, we visited Florida in the summer, July to be exact, just before the fourth of July festivities. Now, I’m fron the Northeast, and I’m used to hot, humid weather. But maybe becasue we had such a cool spring, the shock of the overwhelming hot humidity of Florida took my breath away.
My son, impervious to heat and cold, loved it. He’s the prodigal grandson, the only grandson who shares a passion for fishing with his grandfather. So every day, many times each day, the two of them would go fishing. And everyday, they would bring back a fish, clean it, and fry it for dinner. Every day.
Most people would be happy that their children like to eat fish. And I must say, I’m proud that my son is well aware that the fish on his dinner plate was once alive, and had a head and eyes and fins. He has no illusions, no nondescript fishsticks for him. He likes the real thing.
My challenge was that he was a bit insulted that I wouldn’t join him in eating the fish.
“Mom, don’t you say it is important to eat lots of different foods? Don’t you always tell me that I have to eat what is being served? Don’t I always have to eat the vegetables you serve? Why don’t you like fish? Please, just try to eat a bit of it, I caught it and it is really good?’
So, there I was, trying to rationalize my vegetarian lifestyle to my carnivore (wait, is that what they call fish eaters too?) son. I think I knew what he was trying to do, and I have in the past tried a bite, to show him I was a good sport and to apease him – but to be honest, I really had no desire to eat the fish this time!
So, we debated the first few days, the following few days I lectured him on the difference between my food choices and his, and for the last few days (we were there 10 days) I finally told him I didn’t want to discuss it anymore.
I think that may qualify as a less than stellar performance as a parent, but the way I see it, I can’t be always on the ball. Sometimes, it should be ok to just cut off the conversation, right?
So, I did survive the hot weather of a Florida vacation in the summer, and I also survived the ethical debate with my son about why I choose not to eat certain foods. I have a feeling this may be the begining of many future discussions about food. I’m sure I’ll be as unprepared and akward as I was this time, but you know, it’s hard to teach an old vegetarian new tricks!