Papa Sez by Todd Hunter-Gilbert Issue #3
Papa Sez
by Todd Hunter-Gilbert

Familiar Values - November 2002

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We live in what the Chinese might call Interesting Times.

Terrorists who hate the US are targetting our civilian population. Some moron with, apparently, political motivations has sent weapons-grade anthrax through the mail. Children are being abducted, molested, and murdered, by strangers, "friends", and even family members.

These things are in the news constantly and are therefore much on my mind. As I sit to write this column, I think of these evil-doers and wonder, among other things, "What would their parents say?" These people are acting out from a set of values that are unconscienable, hate-filled, and alien to me. Where did they learn this stuff? Might some of it have come from their parents?

Having become an instant role-model, I think a lot about what my son is learning from me. The specific thought of learning hate came to me a while back while Quinn and I dined at McDonald's.

Quinn likes the golden arches, and can scarcly drive past one of their buildings without intoning "Mickey-Dee's". He eats there a few times a week, though not so often that we yet have to sue anyone for super-sizing our child.

On this paticular day I had ordered him a Happy Meal and was busy laying out his food items: Fries, ketchup, and a bugga-bugga. I lifted the bun to remove the pickle because, well, I hate pickles. Suddenly it occured to me, why should I assume Quinn doesn't want his pickle? Just because I don't like them, doesn't mean he shouldn't get to make
up his own mind. So I replaced the bun and set the burger before my child.

Quinn is a good eater, I reasoned. He eats most foods with glee. He can get as excited about tomatoes and apples as he does about ice cream. Unlike many kids, he is fairly willing to try new foods. He takes what he wants and stops when he's full. Blessedly little fuss. So, surely he will examine the pickle option and accept or reject it based on his taste and his needs.

I watched in anticipation as he pulled the burger into both hands and took a large first bite. He was hungry. The pickle was not at that edge of the sandwich and didn't hit his mouth until about bite 3.

An interminable amount of scientific-method edge-of-the-seatedness later, he reached the pickle. A puzzled look crossed his face. He stopped chewing. I could see the ragged edge of green through his half-closed lips. It wiggled as his tongue sampled the foreign item. He slowly opened his mouth and, with no particular fanfare, threw up.

It should be noted that this is a good approximation of my reaction to pickles also. So now when I get him a burger, I continue to remove the pickle. I set it aside (quite visibly so he will trust his food). And after I set it on the side of his tray, he picks it up and throws it in the empty Happy Meal bag. Then, and only then, is he ready to eat.

What can I say? The kid makes me proud.

Be well.

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