I was in the grocery store yesterday, walking through frozen foods, and, as usual contemplated buying Pizza Pops, which I know several of the kids, particularly the boys, love. As usual, I almost bought them, and then didn’t. I thought about their orangey faux-tomato filling, and the saturated fats in the crust, and as much as I love my boys, and as much as I love to give them what they want, I didn’t put them in my cart. Same thing with the frozen waffles and Tater Tots.
I think it was mostly fatigue, and my negative frame of mind, but I began feeling irritated with society in general. I extended the Pizza Pops to a metaphor for our culture of immediate gratification, in which we are exhorted to buy, buy, buy. Why not? Why not eat fast food? It’s easy. The kids like it. Why not buy ready-made meals, snack crackers, hydrogenated vegetable oil laden cookies, and prepackaged crap? Everyone else is. It’s easy! The kids love it! Why bother cooking? Why bother baking? Just open up a package of cookie dough and throw it in the oven. Why shouldn’t we have what we want when we want it? We deserve it. If it’s easy, and easily obtainable, and we feel like it, why not?
Sometimes it feels like I’m swimming upstream. It’s all just there, and I have to endlessly explain to the kids why I don’t want them eating this that or the other. I have to consciously set up limits for the amount of candy and chocolate that enter this house unbidden. I limit video games, computer games, and have made the house a no Game Boy/Game Cube/ Wii zone. I endured 2 weeks of bedtime tears when oldest son was seven or so and desperately craved an X-Box. I saw how much TV that T in particular was prone to watching, and got rid of it. My kids don’t have MP3 players, or their own sound systems. They don’t get things just because. Just because they want them, or everyone else has them, or they suddenly have an intense craving for one. I am the pillar of conscientious consumption, and I hold the line. I explain about the effects of packaging in landfills, about green house gases, about the perils of too much stuff. About the advertising industry and it’s insidious agenda. About how we aren’t automatically entitled to what we want. I think, I force the kids to think, and I rail against the greedy, selfish, short-term thinking of our current materialistic culture.
Even writing this makes me feel like an ogre. A fun-sucking, over-thinking griper. Which makes me angry. I’m not the crazy one. The way we’re all being manipulated is crazy. I’m angry that taking a stance against over-consumption and asking questions about doing everything in the easiest way possible makes me the bad guy. I can not be the only person out there that looks around and says….hold it here people…and yet, it feels that way sometimes.
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