A couple of weeks ago, my family visited the Bishop Museum. The museum itself is housed in some beautiful old buildings and are full of Hawaiian artifacts. They also have revolving exhibits with high kid appeal, like the one they have now on roller coasters. It is really fun and includes a simulator that lets you ride some famous coasters from across the U.S. Another special exhibit they had was one based on the natural world. It is the kind that has beetles and moths of various species and colors pinned and framed. It has skeletons of small critters bleached and posed. Algae prepared in way that I was forced to do back when I was in school. It is meant to show the beauty and diversity in nature. My son was horrified about the entire thing. He found it appalling that all of these insects’ and other animals’ lives were taken just so we could look at them in the museum. I tried to explain how exhibits like these make people appreciate nature and what is in it more but he was having none of it. And it was then he decided that he was going to be a vegetarian.
This is not exactly surprising. I am a vegetarian. He was vegetarian when he was small, before he could voice his choices. When he decided that spam was delicious, that was OK with me. I wasn’t cooking it in my house but if he was at his grandparent’s house and there was spam musubi he was free to make that choice. And then there was school lunch too. He has been eating school lunch since he started kindergarten and pretty much all of the meals are full of meat. There are some of the dishes that he has never liked to eat. Things like shoyu chicken and teri-beef. There used to be a salad option but not this year.
So once he made the decision to go vegetarian, it was time for home lunch. At first, I was super irritated. It’s bad enough I need to come up with dinner menus for during the week and now all of sudden I was going to have to do lunches too. Back when we spent six months in NY, my son’s elementary school had no school lunch option so I was forced to make home lunch every day. I felt like it wasn’t such a problem since we ate dinner together every night. There were leftovers. I was underemployed with much more time on my hands. It seemed easy. But when my son requested to start taking home lunch my initial reaction was not positive. Although I felt this way, I did not tell him. The whole thing made me feel like a bad mother and a bad person.
The irritation only lasted briefly and part of me has embraced the home lunch. I am not anywhere in the league of those parents who make those fancy Japanese style bento box lunches. But, that being said, he has gone to school with a tiny mason jar filled with salad dressing for his baby carrots and a sandwich made with homemade bread. It is kind of fun and creative.
I am proud of my son for making this choice but I am unsure how long this dietary choice might stick. In full disclosure, he ate a giant plate of bacon today (he said it was his last one). He had me cook it because he says that his dad does not do it the way that he likes it. Even funnier, me the vegetarian, an expert bacon cooker. So he is definitely in a transitional phase when it comes to his diet. I will continue to put together vegetarian home lunches for him until he tells me he is going to back to spam musubi. And I am also fully aware that this may never happen. And that’s OK too. I know that this is the first of many choices he will make as he tries to figure out who he is. And I am happy to support him on this one.