A Mother’s Mighty Power

Posted: March 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Discoveries, Food, Friends and Strangers, Mom | 1 Comment »

I’m pretty sure it was our friend Gary who called me out on this. He was visiting from Kalamazoo, and we’d taken him to our usual neighborhood haunts, a tour which is as much about eating as it is about seeing things.

The first day I foisted our favorite cookies from a local bakery on him saying, “I don’t really like almond, but these are just so chewy and delicious.” Then at Berkeley Bowl we bought a bag of chili and lime roasted almonds. And a couple days later at the farmers’ market I urged him to try a Bay Bread almond croissant, assuring him, “I’m no almond fan, but these are truly amazing.”

At which point, smart lad that he is, Gary gently informed me that, as it turns out, I apparently do like almonds.

A concept I resisted initially, until he walked me back through our recent gastronomic adventures, and I had to admit he made a strong point.

So last night the Grippandos were here for dinner, seeking shelter from their kitchen remodeling mayhem. (They’re decamped in their living room, cooking out of one of those microwave oven cookbooks from the 70s that you see at yard sales all the time. Or if they haven’t been using one of those, they should be.) For dessert I set out some of the aforementioned amazing almond cookies.

Sacha took a bite of one and declared, “Wow, these are great. And I don’t usually like almonds.”

Later, while making her way through a second cookie, she looked at it then at me and said, “You know, I think I say that I don’t like almonds because my mother always said she didn’t like them. But… maybe I really do.”

At which point I almost fell to the ground in amazement, as though I’d suddenly cracked the code to some long-suffering hang-up in a therapy session.

“My God, that’s it!” I bellowed, no doubt shocking Sacha, and likely making a few of the children start crying. “That is EXACTLY why I have been saying all this time I don’t like almonds! That is SO INSANE.”

I mean, how could it be that by the mere power of our mothers’ dislike of almonds, that both Sacha and I, of otherwise sane mind and strong opinion, could be so swayed–even into adulthood–into thinking that something it turns out we actually do like, we really don’t?

How mighty the power of the maternal opinion!

As a mother myself, I’m now curious and fearful of my newly-realized power. I mean, I’ve now got to make a concerted effort to conceal things I don’t like so as not to rob Kate and Paige of their own opinions. In fact, just the other day I lamented having gotten a parking ticket–blathered on about how very much I hate getting tickets–right in front of both girls! To think that they might otherwise grow up to not mind getting tickets–maybe have been able to let them just roll off their backs–but instead they may now become irriated and irascible upon receiving one because, well, because I always said I didn’t like them.

Or maybe they’ll never even try a mushroom. Those nasty fungi may bring as much joy to them as they do gag reflexes to me. I mean, it could happen.

Who knows what grumpy, damaging, or ill-formed opinion of mine could be unwittingly saturating their souls right now.

Sure, I realize that I use Tide laundry detergent and Skippy peanut butter because my mother did. And like her I’m outspoken in my disdain for playing cards, something I’m confident I truly don’t enjoy. But even from childhood, I’ve always felt fairly competent in my ability to differentiate myself from some of the parentally-crafted lore that exists about my family.

The best example being my desire to take voice lessons as a girl, which was quickly shot down by my mother because, “We’re not a musically inclined family.” A curiosity-squelching remark I find hilarious, since I can’t fathom any modern-day parent worth their weight in Dr. Sears books uttering it today.

Of course, my mother’s comment left me stomping upstairs, vowing that when I became a mega-hit pop star on my natural-born talents alone I wouldn’t share my riches with my family. (Though sadly the music curse did become a self-fulfilling prophesy, since never getting any training left me unable to read music or play an instrument to this day. Well, aside from tambourine, triangle, and some limited cowbell.)

So then, Sacha and me. It’s taken decades, but it seems we’re both coming to terms with the fact that, despite our mothers’ preferences, we just might like almonds after all.

But I’ve discovered enlightenment can just lead to further confusion. Knowing as I do now the great power that I wield as a mother over the minds of Misses Kate and Paige–well, it’s somewhat terrifying. How do I manage that responsibly? In some ways I of course want to mold and shape them, but in other ways it’s my job to stand back and let them be their own people.

Maybe if I just keep them guessing, they’ll develop a strong sense of their own likes and dislikes?

Alas, note to self to buy Jif the next time I’m at the store.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “A Mother’s Mighty Power”

  1. 1 Shelley said at 11:15 am on March 9th, 2009:

    I think the true test of letting them be their own people when they bring home Axel their new goth love interest. It will make the mushroom delimma look like childs play. :)

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