explorations of mindful fatherhood


Requiem for Food Network & Travel Channel

PrintIn order to cut costs, my family recently decided to save $60 a month by cancelling cable.  It’s supposed to be shut off in a few days, and I keep turning on the TV just to see if we still get reception.  It’s like trying to spend every waking minute with your high school girlfriend before she flies off to college.  I’ll miss you (*whimper*), cable.

In this age of technology, though, we won’t be missing much.  Between hulu, Netflix, and amazon streamed through the blu-ray, we should be able to watch all of our shows, with a few notable exceptions: AMC, Food Network, and Travel Channel.  Don’t get me started on AMC.  Only three more episodes of The Walking Dead this season, and I’m about to lose my feed?!?!  Rick vs. the Governor?  Woodbury vs. the prison?  I can’t miss that!  Thank god for $2.99 episodes on amazon.

But the real topic of this post is the Food Network and Travel Channel.  Of all the cable networks, these get the most air time on our tube.  Sometimes selected by my wife and me, but mostly requested by our son.  He LOVES the Food Network.  Some of his favorite shows are Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (is that show always on?), Chopped, and Iron Chef America.  Then there’s the Travel Channel, with shows like Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Man v. Food with Adam Richman.  These food-related shows are some of my son’s favorites.  At the beginning of the first grade, the kids filled out a survey (without their names) and hung it up in the halls for open house night.  It was a test to see if parents could identify their children.  We found our son’s right away because under “Favorite TV Show” he put “Food Network”.  Not a show, but the entire cable station.

He loves seeing foods made and eaten.  He loves the creepy stuff on Bizarre Foods, and arguing about what each of us in the family would and wouldn’t eat.  He loves what they can make on Chopped, and making guesses about how he would combine the foods.  He loves rooting for Adam Richman, and seeing what that man can stuff into his mouth, even if we are concerned about his blood pressure and risk for diabetes.

I didn’t have a love or an awe for food growing up.  My parents weren’t the best cooks (if they read this blog, believe me, they’d agree), so dinner was always a mystery.  It was some sort of food with some sort of meat.  Usually something that wasn’t that good, but we had to eat it.  We weren’t very well-off growing up, so we almost never went out to restaurants.  Therefore, I had a very limited palate and a very limited understanding of food.  At one point, when I was in my teens, my mom designated a day of the week to each of the four kids, and we were in charge of making dinner for the family.  It was an utter disaster.  I’ve never seen a family eat so much frozen pizza and mac ‘n cheese.  It was sad because we were put in charge of meal planning, but never taught how to cook.  We weren’t taught the wonders of food and the skills of preparation.

travel-channelSo, I offer up this post in honor of the Food Network and Travel Channel, as they have helped round out my son’s love of food.  Of course, most of the credit for his love of food goes to my wife, the expert chef of the house.  But these channels and their shows have opened up the world of food culture to him.  Through them, he can see the various ways that food is prepared, enjoyed, and revered in other parts of the county or other parts of the world.  He sees that food can be fun.  It can be an experiment.  And that the art of cooking is full of successes and failures.  That chefs constantly try to make something better.

I’m glad that his experiences with food have expanded with the help of these networks, and we’ll certainly miss them when the cable goes out.  Until then, Guy Fieri will grace our screen.

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Grand Pricks: Teaching a 6-Year-Old to Swear

5825299451_swear_word_xlargeI always imagined my son would know how to swear, but didn’t realize how much of it he’d actually get from his parents.

When our son was born, our family underwent a period of language transition.  My wife and I tended to swear like sailors at home.  So with the addition of an impressionable young mind in the house, we decided that we definitely needed to pull back on the language.  That is, unless we were prepared to be called into many a principal’s office in the years to come.

Thank God babies don’t understand speech in the first few months because my transition to clean language took an f-ing long time.  My wife would frequently catch me and roll her eyes and I’d apologize profusely.  I’m guessing it took about two years before I was able to prevent every four-letter word from spilling off the tip of my tongue.

But now at 6-years-old, our son is actually learning to swear.  It’s not that he necessarily hears us swear and, from what we can tell, his friends don’t seem to curse.  However, it’s still amazing how many situations a young kid can encounter that involve swear words.  And he’s an inquisitive little kid. Therefore, we’ve decided that we’re going to let him know what words mean if he asks.  There are even some words that we’ve told him we don’t mind him saying in front of us, but they aren’t for public life.

Take “ass” for example.  My son’s favorite cable stations, which he likes even more than Cartoon Network, are the Food Network and Travel Channel.  There was a time about a year ago when Andrew Zimmern said “ass” on Bizarre Foods, and our son asked us what it meant.  We explained it to him honestly and then told him that we didn’t consider “ass” to be a “really bad word”.  We said it would be okay if he used it sometimes, but only around the house and never in front of anyone else, especially at other kids’ houses or at school.  We likened it to dancing around naked: fine to do at home, but we’d have a much bigger problem if he did the same thing at school.  It was a very good conversation about what’s okay at home and what’s okay in public.

Holy cow.  I didn’t know the word ass could be incorporated into so many sentences.  Example: “My napkin fell on the floor…on its ass.”  He was extremely liberal with the a-word for about a week but, not surprisingly, it died out.  The word, as we were hoping it might, lost its power.

Recently we were driving past a go-cart place in our neighborhood called the Grand Prix, and my son asked when we could go back to “Grand Pricks”.  This certainly wasn’t the first time he referred to the place by that name, and it certainly wasn’t the first time my wife and I broke into fits of laughter at his mispronunciation of the word “prix”.  This time he asked what was so funny, and so my wife decided to tell him.

“Prick is a bad word for a penis.  If someone is being kind of mean, people might call him a prick.  But, you shouldn’t be using that word, because it’s very bad.”

“Okay,” he replied after a hearty laugh, and let it go.

We haven’t heard the word since (and haven’t been called into the principal’s office).  It’s kind of amazing that when we treated him with honesty, he understood and follow the rules when old enough to handle them.  I was also impressed by the fact that the words lost their power when he knew when and where he was allowed to use them.  I initially thought that educating him about these words would bite us in the ass, but up until now we’ve been all right.

I bet I’ll be retracting this post in the future after our first visit to the principal’s office.