As children grow and develop their humor sense, they learn the delights of shared ridicule. If we’ve raised our children right they won’t ridicule peers or authority figures or those different from them. They’ll mock us.
A gaggle of post-littles/pre-teens guffaw as they cross eyes and loll out tongues.
“Your mom says your face will stay that way? Mine does too!”
Or, “Does your mom ever say, “If your friends were all jumping off a cliff would you?”
And then one will chime in,
“My folks always say, ‘wait till you have kids of your own.’”
At this point they all laugh uproariously. Kids of their own?
That day is, like, a million years in the future.
And then comes the inevitable: “My mom always says, ‘Eat your vegetables! There are starving children in Somalia!’ So I say, ‘If they want my Lima beans so bad they can have them!’”
Some moms might sub in India or the Sudan or North Korea.
But the Momism is the same. When I was growing up the children in Bangladesh were starving.
I wondered how eating my liver and Brussels Sprouts would fill their stomachs.
It wouldn’t. So why don’t moms can this ridiculous phrase? Its been around longer than I have.
As long as America has had so much food that almost half of it goes to waste.
As long as children see buffet lines with more options than their phones have apps.
As long as first world children have never known the gnawing ache of hunger.
Not temporary hunger pangs, but the
agonizing starvation that distends little tummies while shrinking little bodies to loosely fleshed skeletons.
As long as our children can pile food on their plates and after a few bites toss the rest, words about starving children have little impact.
Moms have a lot to deal with. Children have food preferences and sensitivities. Many moms need to keep kids safe from allergens and pesticides. We don’t want our kids falling into eating disorders so we don’t tell them to clean their plates.
We have so much food that sometimes we view it as an enemy instead of realizing how precious it is.
We need to learn ourselves and teach our children that full tables and refrigerators and pantries aren’t our right, but a blessing and privilege.
Let’s exercise our imaginations. Picture one of those little ones from India or Somalia or somewhere in our own city who doesn’t have enough to eat. Imagine them watching us scrape good food into the trash. Imagine a child—who washed dung from seeds for something to eat—sees us turn up fussy noses at meat, potatoes and 2 kinds of vegetables.
Or liver and Brussels Sprouts.
I, too, need pictures of those empty babies with the puzzled eyes
next time I am too lazy to heat up leftovers and order out for pizza. Or when I wait till the food in the fridge turns green and I can just dump it.
“You have so much,” the hollow voices say. “Please, respect it. We do.”
Another Momism: We don’t know what we have till its gone.
An attitude of humble gratefulness and stewardship can grow and spill out. It creates empathy which creates people who not only enjoy the blessing of food, but share it.
Lord, this Thanksgiving, let me be thankfully aware. Let me be alert for those who don’t have tables groaning with provision. Let me be a steward of this bounty. And please, let me partake with gratitude and amazement.