While grocery shopping once, I noticed a mom in sandals and dreadlocks raising hell about the lack of vegan options for her daughter. She threatened a boycott, quite loudly in fact, because her little girl was an organic being and much too precious for pesticides, animal secretions, and hormones. As I stood by, filling my cart and trying to concentrate on her words despite distraction from several silver bracelets and the strong scent of patchouli oil, this mom demanded, in no uncertain terms, that her beliefs be reflected in where she does business.
“This means local bean sprouts and tofu cheese on the goddamn salad bar,” she said.
I looked at her kid, named Cinnamon or Zirconium, I can’t remember which, and she was far from precious. She stomped around the store, screaming every few seconds for Mommy to “hurry up.”
She even looked at me and stuck out her tongue. And this was after I had smiled at the little brat and complimented her crystal necklace before I could help myself.
I walked toward the wine section, shaking my head.
Caring about what our children eat is a good thing. We should be concerned and vigilant about nasty and harmful ingredients that little bodies don’t really need. However, parents like Hippie Mom take it a little too far. They are overly concerned and hyper-vigilant. They ignore their kids’ social and emotional development because they’re too busy freaking out over whether an apple has soaked in the right kind of organic manure before boarding a transcontinental flight to get to their neighborhood.
Extreme parents do not raise well-adjusted children. Instead, these characters bring up kids who are isolated and set-apart. For years, I watched these babes at playgroups, in my sons’ elementary schools or I’ve attempted to teach them high school social studies after they’d been homeschooled into believing deodorant is a sin and history started in the 1960s when Jimi Hendrix picked up a guitar.
The story remains the same. In much the same way that purity balls can produce promiscuous teenage girls, too many vegan and organic children suffer from eating disorders or personality problems, often going to opposite extremes once they escape the controlling influences of their overprotective parents.
Freaky families don’t often produce well-rounded and healthy kids. Quite the opposite actually. I’ve walked through too many cafeterias, noticing their spawn sitting off to the side, so painfully odd and separated from most of the other children. I feel sorry for them.
When will parents realize that a reasonable and moderate approach works best? Their kids’ issues don’t always end with graduation. Young adults raised to be oddballs often sit on the periphery of life with their Tolstoy books and blue hair and relate to no one.
What’s even worse? They influence no one.
They make no discernable difference with others because their views are too extreme, their personalities too caustic. Mainstream folks often fail to see what might otherwise be some salient points. If the messenger fails, the message dies as well.
Don’t spend too much time freaking out over whether your daughter is eating an organic banana. Teach her to see others as valid and decent human beings. Teach him to laugh and find the funny in differences between himself and everyone else.
Turning up your nose at right-wing parents who teach their kids to believe in Jesus and hate homosexuals is the height of hypocrisy. You are no different, Granola Girl. You are a wingnut of another kind, yet still a wingnut.
Kids who appreciate themselves and the world around them don’t get harassed because of their diets, funky names, or any other quirky worldview. These are quiet and effective leaders, who encourage their peers to question, learn, explore, and think outside the box. That’s a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed, yet may result in more bean sprouts and tofu cheese.
Get over yourself and get in the game. Relate. That’s the only way you’ll really make the world a better place for Cinnamon.