Monday, September 10, 2007

Head Scratch Time

There are moments in life when you just have to stop and scratch your head. When thing just aren’t adding up, or add up into a sum that doesn’t make sense. Saturday was one of those moments. It was actually a nice day, for the kids a very very nice day. Swimming lessons first, then off to a birthday party (which all three ended up playing at), and finished off with a picnic for Pirate Pete’s year, with all the families chipping in to rent a bouncy castle.

All in all, a really good family day, and the kids sure enough really enjoyed themselves. What made me scratch my head though was food. Perhaps the numbers do add up in a way, but it’s a way that just shows either a complete laziness or complete lack of regard for health and the environment. Please note, these are all rather well off families. The combined income of the parents at that picnic would probably fund a small country.

Yet, despite that prosperity, or perhaps because of it, the food in evidence was generally pretty appalling. Now modern kids parties have a relentless logic. You’ve got to have, at a minimum, little sausages, white bread sandwiches, ice cream and jelly and a cake. From my experience those seem pretty universal. Some people play about the edges with vegetables or other types of food, but you have to have those bits or else some kids won’t eat.

I accept that, and sure enough our parties tend to have the same. Yet there are two ends of the extreme. At this party the sausages looked like they came pre cooked out of a pack, as did the sarnies. The cake? Vibrant colours and looked like it was pressed out of a mould (ie store bought). I hate to say it biased (which I am, of course), but this was with a stay at home mum. Lovely lady, I quite like her, but LL and I, with two very full time jobs, manage to make all the food for the kids parties. Hell, I often even bake the bread for the sandwiches. LL considers it her maternal duty to bake a cake. Mind you, she’s a perfectionist, so its fairy castles and dinosaur cakes, but a simple round one with a bit of icing might take an hour at most.

Then it was on to the picnic. Sure enough there was nice rugs, and many had picnic hampers with plates and wine glasses. Yet these same people would also have a couple supermarket bag which they’d proceed to unload and pop back the plastic tops of the lunch someone else had made. I was absolutely appalled there were two large black bags filled to the top at the end. OK, the kids were extraordinarily well behaved, and the park was tidier at the end than the beginning, but everyone was eating factory made pap.

Its not hard to make a picnic. OK, I baked some fresh roles, but we brought the makings with us, and stuffed the sandwiches on site. LL took one minute to make a dip with some yogurt, chives and garlic, but that was it.

Many of these families have a parent at home. Just what do these women do? I know homemaking can be a career in itself; my mum did it for many years. Yet isn’t that supposed to be the point? The most time that had been spent on the food that day had been in the shops! Though I will be the first to admit to finding shopping a stressful activity, its not exactly time consuming.

Though I don’t think I grew up in a golden time, I do have to wonder at some of the ways our society is going. No wonder the environment is in a mess. If people can’t be bothered to take just a little time to prepare their own food, its time to get out the spiked cool aid and end our chances as a species. Bloomin ‘eck, there weren’t even glasses and thermoses for the kids, it was all little bottled waters and fizzy drinks. I depair, I really do.


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