Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Never Thought I Could Write So Much About French Fries

I'm not a big fan of never. When I hear loud declarations of "I would never" or "We will never" from other people I always think to myself that god is laughing somewhere. And I'm pretty sure that also, way down deep, it gets me more than it might have otherwise, because of my younger sister. She was born with Down Syndrome and my parents had to rewrite all the rules, and when you grow up with a disabled sibling, I don't think you make statements about how things are going to go, at least not lightly. None of us know how anything is going to turn out in the world, and all the grandiloquent statements about what you will or will not do don't matter a lot when reality rears its ugly head. And when it comes to parenting, just like anything else I've never done before, I'm pretty sure it's a really bad idea to announce now, before I've done any of it, how it's going to go. I mean, sure in an ideal world, my kids would never watch tv, but I can't help it; I see a day not long in the future when I haven't taken a shower for a week and I have baby puke in my hair and kids are running and screaming and hair is flying and the dog is eating poop out of the litter box and there's cereal on the floor and out of respect to that mom that I'll be someday, I'm just not gonna go there and say those kids might not watch half an hour of Mr. Rogers. They just might.
But the point is that before we decided to have kids, Mr. E and I agreed on three nevers. Three things we believed in SO strongly and thought were so important that we were willing to say never ever, never in our house, never our kids. And at least for me, these three things were my lifeboat, my safety net. Mr. E has always been the something solid I could count on when I stepped to the edge, but to me, parenthood was such major deal it was still scary for me to take the leap. I needed something more. So we agreed, and here are the three nevers we decided on.

1. No matter what happens between us. Even if things don't work out. Even if we hate each other's guts more than we ever thought possible. We will never put our children in the middle, or use them to try to hurt each other.
2. Our children will never eat cereal from a bag.
3. Our children will never share fries.

So yeah, here's where I admit I'm not willing to say my children will never eat at McDonald's (and also that when they do, they're going to get their own damn serving of fries that they don't have to share with anyone else.) Despite all I know about trans fat and obesity and epidemics and blah blah blah, I also believe in moderation, and I believe that kids who never get fries are kids who sneak them and then eat them at every meal later in life. And I also believe that something so perfect it can't be described is contained in the wonder that is a McDonald's french fry, and even though they're bad for you and so you don't eat them every week, or even every other week, you should get to eat them sometimes, to remind you of good in the world, of golden, crispy things. I was a child who never ever ever ever got McDonalds (I can remember only two times in my whole childhood) and then later on when I was on my own I got fat. You do the math. And say what you want about trans fat and chemicals and beef and I know all that, but I also remember perfectly a snowy evening in Oregon, a clear night, I can see it now, it was dark and late and I was hungry and I hated day care, and my mom picked me and my brother up from school and pulled up to the curb and when I opened the door of our red Toyota Tercel the smell of french fries flooded out in the crisp snowy evening and I knew she had gotten McDonald's and for me that moment is perfect in my memory. It's one of my favorite things to think about when I think about being a kid.

And that's really what life is about. Perfect golden moments. To never have a moment like that, to never have that warm, lovely, french fried feeling of happy wrapped all around you? Moments like that make life important, trans fat and all.


PastaQueen said...

Man, now I *really* want to eat some McD's frys.

I like your "moments" theory on life. It's very true.

sarah said...

Even if we hate each other's guts more than we ever thought possible. We will never put our children in the middle, or use them to try to hurt each other.

Oh, how I wish my husband's first wife felt the same way. But she doesn't, and that's something we have to work with and around every single day.