Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breakfast and Books

I got to attend the Breakfast and Books program at Katie's school this morning.  Am I the only person who thinks it's ironic that her public school is caving to Mrs. Obama's Let's Move policies by holding assemblies where the principal talks about food and obesity, where we're sent home letters warning us of the change in nutritional standards that require each student to select at least one 1/2 cup serving of either a fruit or a vegetable with each school lunch, and where many of the worksheets my kid brings home have pictures of anthropomorphic healthy snacks dancing around the page, and yet they host a program that, from what I can tell, uses bacon to bribe parents into coming in early one morning to learn about the importance of reading with our children?  The teacher didn't even hesitate to pour more into her cup when Katie asked for a refill on her high-glycemic index apple juice.

One of the reading teachers asked me to write my name on the sign up list so they could keep track of all the participants.  But no one asked me to keep track of how many slices of bacon we consumed.  I guess I just got paranoid when a libertarian friend of mine shared this news article about Big Government stepping in and meddling with our kid's eating habits.    

Even if I'm not paranoid, I know I'm overly sensitive about the issue, being a former fat kid and all.  I've blogged recently about how his public school is sending Cameron Larkins to fat camp.  I'm quite vocal about my support for the Health at Every Size movement.  But the message I took away from the Breakfast and Books event was this: it's OK to reward yourself with delicious food and drink if it means you'll read more.  They're fine with stifling their usual chants about healthy food so you'll score higher on their standardized reading tests.

I understand why they do it, though.  Public schools need more funding.  They will cow to Mrs. Obama's childhood anti-obesity campaign to get more federal funding for educational programs.  And, they'll also placate you with saturated fats and nitrates if it means kids will perform better on achievement standards that keep funds coming too.

I wish public schools just got more money without having to do all these song and dance routines.  Focus more on teaching children critical thinking and empathy skills and encouraging them to enjoy a life-long love of learning rather than push them to study hard for a test.  But, dang, that bacon sure was good.

As an animal lover, I'm not usually a big meat eater.  Then I got dogs.  My sweet furry kids who spend all day just wanting to sit as close to me as possible turn into ferocious wild beasts when they encounter a baby bunny or a chipmunk or squirrel or some such fuzzy critter.  My poor, sweet dog Sawyer, a beagle lab mix and therefore a gifted hunter, gets so confused when she attempts to bring me her catch and I begin screaming at her to "DROP IT!!!"

I spent decades eating a strict lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet.  A few years ago I began eating fish, chicken, turkey, ham and bacon from time to time, trying to add more sources of protein to my diet, which is recommended for people like me who have PCOS.  But also, as a former anorexic, I wanted to prove to myself that I was over my hangups and no longer needed my self-restricted diets to control my life.

So I ate a piece of bacon in Katie's classroom this morning and it was fantastic.

Then I came home and read this article about the 70-year old man who was eaten by his hogs.  My first thought was, "Well, what was the guy planning on doing to his hogs once they were nice and fattened up?  If the hogs could stand trial, they could plead self-defense."

When I was still abstaining from meat, people would often try to argue with me, "But humans are at the top of the food chain.  It's just natural."  I enjoyed reminding them that bears, sharks, even hungry dogs if left home with their dead owner for too long, eat people.

And apparently even domesticated hogs.

I sat there, feeling smugly satisfied that the hog farmer got what was coming to him.  Then I burped.  It tasted like bacon.  I prefer my cognitive dissonance with a side of home fries and cheesy eggs like we had at Katie's school this morning, so I closed the hog article and read on down my newsfeed.

I saw an adorable photo of my gay friend's long-term boyfriend holding my friend's sister's and her wife's newborn baby.  There we go.  There's a sight that gives me hope for the progress of the human race.  His sister and wife were able to legally wed because they live in Washington, D.C.  My friends live in Missouri, so they have no such rights.  But that doesn't keep them both from loving their new nephew.

One of the reasons I'm voting for President Obama in a few weeks, even though I'm disappointed with many of his policies, including Michelle Obama's Let's Move drive, is because of his stance on Marriage Equality, and gay-rights in general.  Today is national coming out day.  Today, in the year 2012, it seems like everyone I know loves gay people.  Even Christians.

What a wonderful thing, to have lived on the cusp of a new millennium and witness such progressive social change.   To have been born in a time when gay people, drag queens and poor street hustlers no less, fought back and began demanding respect and fair treatment.  I was born in 1970, just a year after the Stonewall Uprising.  Now, nearly forty-two years later, I get to "like" photos of gay friends holding their nephews by not-quite-marriage-but-it's-getting-better on Facebook, and share witty posts from George Takei, and share memes from straight-allies wishing everyone a Happy National Coming Out Day.

During Breakfast and Books, Katie read to me Eric Carle's wonderful book about a former fatty with a binge eating disorder who transforms into a beautiful, proud butterfly, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  A good meal and a good story about an underdog who triumphs.  Turns out Breakfast and Books is a nice path to social change.

Unless you're the pig.