Momservation: A child declaring they’re becoming a vegetarian in my house means they’ve just announced they are now shopping and cooking for themselves.
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So lovely daughter comes home yesterday from middle school and says: Mom, I think I’d like to be a vegetarian.
Without hesitation as I am folding clothes that my children will not put away until I threaten to disconnect their eyeballs from their iphones I say: Yeah, THAT’S not something I’m supporting.
Because like owning the hamster, and the turtle, and the fish, and trying cheerleading, and dying her hair blue with KoolAid that turned her brunette hair the color of snot, and like everything else my daughter thinks she needs to do—her lifestyle choice becomes my lifestyle choice and then my problem.
In my effort to support my adventurous child in expressing herself, I end up taking care of a menagerie of bedroom pets, wasting a ton of money on “Yeah, I decided it’s not my thing” and dealing with the tears that come when a child who is trying to grow her hair out ends up having to lop off four inches of hair, causing your tongue to bleed by holding in the “I-told-you-so’s.”
Having just defrosted the meat for that night’s beef enchiladas dinner, I was in no mood to alter the course of dinner for a lifestyle decision I was sure would only last until she caught a whiff of the morning’s breakfast bacon.
I decided to see what was propelling darling daughter’s decision: So what suddenly made you want to become a vegetarian?
Daughter: You know, because of like the animals and stuff.
Mom: And stuff? This doesn’t sound like a choice you’re making because you’re feeling sad for cows and chickens.
Daughter: Well, being a vegetarian is healthier.
Mom: How? I can’t get you to eat enough vegetables as it is! In fact, I can barely get you to eat anything! Where are you going to get your protein? Do you know other sources of protein?
Daughter: Eggs. I’ll eat eggs.
Mom: Nuts. You hate nuts. You hate peanut butter. Beans. Oh yum, you get to eat beans! Remember the black-eyed peas you refused to try on New Year’s? You get to eat those! What are you going to bring to school in your lunch?
Daughter: I’ll eat cheese sandwiches.
Mom: What about Willie’s and Skip’s hamburgers? Are you sure you can give up your favorite foods?
Daughter: I’ll just have grilled cheeses when we go there.
Mom: You do know if you eat too much cheese you’ll get backed up like a clogged toilet, don’t you?
Daughter: Ewww! You’re gross Mom!
My daughter, getting exasperated with me starts to get up to leave. Only then do I feel bad for hammering her for having the courage to try something that was really not a bad decision.
Mom: Fine. You’re a vegetarian. I’ll support this on one condition.
Mom: Promise me you’re not doing this because your friend Felicia said she lost a ton of weight once she went vegetarian.
Daughter: (Looking me in the eyes.) I’m not doing this to try and lose weight.
Locked in a stare down waiting for the other person to blink, I should know better than to lock horns with my carbon copy hard head. I blink first.
Envisioning the pain-in-the-a** it’s going to be to modify our meat and potatoes household to accommodate what I’m pretty certain is a vegetarian on trend-of-the-moment principles, I make a mental note that I will be choking down another regularly scheduled I-told-you-so.
I try one last push to keep her on the meat eater side of the family: Can’t you save this extreme lifestyle choice for when you move into your dorm room? (Our inside joke for indulging crazy ideas only after you turn 18 and moved out of the house.)
Daughter: Not funny, Mom.
Mom: *sigh* (Knows she’ll do just about anything for her kids and will continue to support attempts at self-discovery and expression.) I guess we need to go to the store and figure out what a vegetarian eats. Can’t be much different than having a super finicky brother though, right?
Daughter: True dat. Thanks, Mom.
We hug it out. Gotta give her once last rib though.
Mom: Well, I guess there are a lot worse things you could’ve come home and told me.
Daughter: Like wanting to get a tattoo!
Mom: Not funny, Whitney.
BTW, my son has requested every meal wrapped in bacon as the true test of his younger sister’s commitment to her principles.