There are many, many reasons I don’t have children, the least of which being that I don’t care for them.
When I got married I was really young. I’ll be the first to say that it’s not entirely advisable. The hubs and I have worked hard to make our relationship the object of such reverence and desire. I wouldn’t take it back, but I would weave a cautionary tale to all those youngsters out there. In order to ensure that I don’t wake up at 30 and feel like I fucked everything up, I have a firm commitment to myself not to have babies until I’m at least 30. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having babies before 30, I’m just sayin’ that it’s the right decision for me. I know how being the little wifey can make you feel like playing house, but YOU CAN’T RETURN BABIES. They stay.
(I’ve actually had dreams where I have a baby and promptly decide it was a huge error. I shop it around for a while and finally just give it to the orphanage. I think I walk away and go have lunch at Houston’s or something. Baby? What baby?)
Because I am so thoughtful and level headed about this baby business, I have plenty of time to observe, objectively, other people’s children, as well as identify all the magical ways that I am bound to screw things up. My big fear is that I couldn’t love an ugly baby and there is a whale of a chance that between the hubs tree trunk legs and my original nose our baby is going to be fugs. The only shred of respect I have left for Madonna is based solely on the fact that she hasn’t sat Lourdes down and told her that 6 billion people worldwide think her eyebrows are super fucked. I don’t know if I’d have it in me to let my child be a child with two werewolf caterpillars betwixt her eyes.
The body issues are another thing entirely. My own mother did her very best not to pass on the body issues. Unfortunately she failed, but it was not for lack of trying. She really did just want us to eat healthy. It was no one’s fault but my own that I loved Snickers bars to the point that my parents had no choice but to sit me down and tell me I was getting a little soft around the middle. I forced their hand.
Now that I’m all grown up I grapple with how you teach anyone (friends or children) how to eat right. I’ve tortured the hubs into submission by controlling the grocery shopping which means that no meats cross my threshold, nor do any processed foods, General Mills products, milk, or off-brand toilet paper. There was a time that he put up a fight but he’s given up. He can snack on olives and carrot sticks.
Up until now I’ve been mindful of Stuart’s diet, but I haven’t focused on it. To be 100% honest it’s been difficult for me to come to terms with the difference between truth and lies in the people food world, so tackling cat food seemed really daunting. And expensive. But then the hubs brought home Meow Mix as an emergency bag to get us through the week and all I could think was that we were basically feeding our cat Doritos for every meal. Stuart, of course, loved it. I felt like a mom who finally gave up and fed her kid a happy meal because it was cheap and easy. I was choked by the realization that this is how it happens. You let go for one minute and allow your husband to be in charge of the children and he takes them to the drive thru before sitting them in the front row of the movie theater with a jumbo box of popcorn and some Sour Patch kids. Next thing you know they’ll be running through the house in Super Man pajamas with Foot by the Foots wrapped around their thumbs smelling like a post-recess third grade classroom.
Stuart needed new food. That was the end of that. I wasn’t going to allow him to continue eating the Cocoa Puffs of cat food. Armed with my Google-acquired knowledge I went to Whole Foods to get some new food. No corn. No soy. No meat by products. (Heave.) Stuart was going to have more energy, a shinier coat, and a better temperament. I bought a teensy bag of food for $26 or something insane like that and took it home. I was so excited to show Stuart that I pushed the Meow Mix to the back of the cupboard and opened the new food. (Which smells like rotting salmon. Guess that’s what actual dried meat smells like.) He was starving, weaving through my legs, jumping against the wall. I poured the food and waited for him to turn around, cup my face in his paws, kiss me lovingly on each cheek, and thank me. Instead he sniffed the bowl, looked up in disgust, and walked away to ask dad to get him a Happy Meal.
I couldn’t believe it. One bag of Meow Mix and we ruined him. It’s been three days and he won’t get near the bowl unless we sprinkle of cat Doritos on top. Even then he does everything in his power to just pick up the Doritos and not touch the sophisticated kitty food.
What to do? How do I teach my child cat to eat well and respect his body? How do I make him care? How?