December was a funny old month. I spent far too much of it sat on a hospital waiting room chair, I had tests that left me in crisis where I had to leave the site or vomit all over the shiny clean floor, and meetings with Consultants who basically told me that my condition is still mostly invisible and even my new secondary condition is playing spot the inflammation. Yay.
In order to stop wallowing in my own room of pain and because it is 6 am on a Sunday morning where sleep played hookie for the night, I have decided to muse on something my big boy happened to say the other day in an off-hand, barely a thing, way.
“I was more scared of telling mum I was a vegetarian than telling her I was trans!”
Say what?? I have always felt that our parent/child relationship has been good and solid. We are open, honest, challenging, thought provoking. I never knew that one of them might have been scared to tell me something and if my outspoken, head strong, opinionated, first born can’t talk to me, what on Earth are the others holding back?
Don’t get me wrong, I know that children aren’t going to tell their parents everything and there are certain things I am not yet ready to hear, yet I didn’t realise I had ever said anything to make at least one of them wary of my reaction. And of all things, vegetarianism. That’s their hot button? Wow. How had I let this happen?
Admittedly, food is a big for me. I like my food, my belly fat rolls are a prominent reminder but I only ever discuss it in terms of eating healthily, looking at where your food comes from or how it is harvested. We even “enjoyed” watching Kill it, Cook it, Eat it on the beeb and would warn the children before giving them the option to stay up late to watch it. I’m fairly certain that it was these series that set my Big Boy on his path to being a (new) Vegan and, he suggests, probably a Raw Foodie or whatever the term will be in a couple of years. He is passionate about it to the point of becoming very upset with himself for fearing he isn’t getting his message across. I love his enthusiasm, his thirst to do what is right before what is easy. He sees a challenge and he drives himself to do his utmost in the name of his cause.
I had mentioned that I would rather he didn’t become a Vegan whilst we were still paying the shopping bill. The alternative products can really stretch things out. When I was following a popular diet for a while, moving from cow’s milk to almond milk was way outside my comfort zone but I found I quite enjoyed it and was able to eat porridge (cold with a little syrup or honey) as a breakfast meal once again. Pregnancy and hyperemesis really took its toll on my dairy intake and looked elsewhere for extra calcium yet never explored “milk” alternatives, I just did without them. However, it was an expense I couldn’t justify as my diet slowly moved back to the family norm. The cheese is another woah product. I put my Bursar hat on and tut loudly knowing that for his little block of cheese I could buy two thirds of the family block of cheddar. I have absolute joy in buying extra olives, chickpeas, lentils, and mushroom. It is fantastic to see my kitchen once again being used for the purpose of proper scratch cooking. I miss the fun of combining ingredients and enjoying new flavours, a joy which not being able to stand or sit upright for long periods has robbed me of. The eating of extra veggies, beans, pulses, and whole grains really doesn’t bother me at all. I dislike the pushy, judgemental, vindication which I have often come face to face with from Vegans. I want my children to make decisions based on the research and evidence of their own making rather than because one of their favourite YouTubers decides that the grapefruit cleanse is the best thing ever. Perhaps, somewhere along the way, that message was somehow lost. I’m really quite uncomfortable with that realisation.
If such a simple “you do you” message was lost, what else have my children decided to say or not say? If he had said “I was scared to tell dad!” that would make perfect sense. MrBear is a card carrying, bacon worshipping, veg avoiding, meat eater. The more meat the better. ALL of our friends know that if they want to thank him meat or some kind of alcohol will do the trick. If he can have it with extra hot spicy sauce then you will probably be in line for next Mrs B, should I ever shuffle off first. Seriously. The man lurves his meat smothered with chilli. I have never understood it. I openly say, in front of the children, that that is a very bizarre way to maintain ones body and taste buds. It is even more annoying because given that he gets to eat twice the adult male calorie count for the day thanks to his epic cycle commute, I’m the one who carries every excess calorie he seems to consume. To say in his presence that bacon is no longer an option is to open yourself up to all kinds of not funny jokes and “all the more for me” boasts.
Perhaps, what I was unable to convey to my wise Big Boy, is that when I ask “why?” to each of his statements, it is because I want to hear his sound and reasoned argument. Maybe I have lost the ability to ask those questions without them sounding loaded or like I have an agenda. I could live without meat. After a while, I would most likely no longer desire to add chicken to my salad or minced beef to my cottage pie. I can see myself quite happily eating in a meat free manner. Perhaps I have never actually said that to him.
I know I often speak in ideals. Our own little homestead. Chickens for fresh eggs, a goat to milk, pigs to harvest and swap with other homesteaders for some of their own produce, a polytunnel to fend off our beautiful English weather and a greenhouse to potter around in. In my dream making, it is entirely plausible that I failed to set straight my views on animal cruelty, testing on animals, forced breeding in dairy cows, dire battery cages of egg layers and the by products of these animals so widely used that the meat is now the by product. I don’t see how but I have to concede that I don’t always know the answer and I certainly have become less proficient at getting my words straight when my pain levels have begun to rise. I know that he feels genuine distress when he considers the lives of animals within the meat industry and I am completely on board with his choice to become a vegan. I’ll manage the cost, I’ll encourage new foods, I’ll search for better footwear, and I will stand beside him whilst we tell his father to stop being such a tit. He deserves my support and he has more than earned my respect. Can I say that we will never again butt heads or talk with great passion about the view from our side of the fence? Heck no! I doubt that he would actually want me to stop. The challenge I bring in to our conversations is a tool I will continue to use to better equip him for the world. His father is not the only one who will put down his life diet choice but he will probably be one of the only ones to turn around and stand up to any other tit who dares to tell our Big Boy that he is wrong in those choices. He is a daft so and so at times, my Mr, but his heart has been owned by our children since the day I sent him a text with one simple message, “Hello daddy”.