Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fruit Cocktail and other trials of mothering

I have been thinking a lot about food, parenting, and fruit lately. This meandering has lead me to a strange childhood fruit cocktail memory. I hope I haven't shared this already. I'm too lazy to check.

When we were children, we loved fruit cocktail in the can. The can only had one to two cherries --- maraschino cherries that don't really look like cherries. You know what I'm talking about. So when we had fruit cocktail, Mom would cut the cherries up and make sure each of the three children had the same number. We always checked.

As Mark and I ate fruit cocktail that a church man gave us this morning, I told him that story. He looked at me quizzically, a pretty standard Mark look. I offered him the cherry. He said, "No thanks, I don't care for that."

I also remember that for awhile Mom bought three kinds of cookies at the store (Oreos, chocolate chip, and wedding cookies) and divided them into three containers. Each child had his/her own container and when it was gone, it was gone for... I guess a couple of weeks. I remember checking to make sure my siblings didn't steal my cookies. I remember trying to make mine last longer than the others, but I doubt I was successful.

Equality was very important to Mom. She counted jelly beans into our Easter baskets and chocolates into our Christmas stockings, making sure each of us had exactly the same amount. She told me that she always spent the exact same amount on each of us for Christmas and birthday presents. I don't remember thinking that my brother and sister got more than me (except the cherries), but I guess she made sure the issue never came up. Even if one of us needed something and the others didn't, she'd make sure we either all got it or no one did. She continued this even as we grew to adults.

I don't know if this is a good plan. It seems that "to each according to his need" would be more reasonable, but then, I'm a pretty needy person.

Sometimes I worry about giving my children equal treatment, and I know that right now, I'm not. Will someone be short changed, or will it even out in the long run? I think I need to be mindful of the way I give attention --- material and emotional. But just as some children don't need as much help materially, some don't want as much emotional contact. I try to give them all of what they need and some of what they want. And I think that's working out, but I do think I need to evaluate the whole thing.

And of course, stop rambling...


annie kelleher said...

hah! i remember fighting with my brother over the cherries in fruit cocktail. my mother resorted to adding more. i used to do the same thing with my kids' snacks... every one got their favorite bag of cookies or whatever and when it was gone... it was gone til the next time i shopped. the ohly person who couldn't abide by this rule was my ex... he would sneak the kids' snacks and blame it on them! i don't think you can get more dysfunctional than that!! glad to see you posting!!!!

Kathy said...

I'm working on it. I'm getting into a routine and I am finding that if I write something, it frees my mind to concentrate on other exciting things like payroll tax reports. :-D