While watching “Unneccessary Roughness” recently, an adult male said, “Every time I’m near him (him being a childhood hero), I’m that twelve-year boy again.” The therapist replied, “You have to take back your power. You aren’t twelve anymore.” That struck a chord with me about how powerful memories of our childhood are. The impression our parents leave on us are stronger than our own will.
That thought brought me back to my own days of growing up. As a child, teen, and adult there was one steadfast rule in my home. You could take whatever food you wanted to take, but you had to eat every bite on your plate. That was a rule brought about by the depression when food was hard-won and treasured as a gift received. I did as I had been told and never questioned why. In those days, you did as you were told.
This was so ingrained that by the time I left home to go to college and food was piled on my tray, I would eat every bite. It took me a few months to figure out that I wasn’t serving myself and didn’t have to eat every single bite. Easy enough to figure out, much, much harder to do. Somehow, I got through college without looking like an elephant.
The military only reinforced the food rule. “Take what you want, but eat what you take” slogans were posted everywhere. With all the activity of training, it wasn’t hard to keep the pounds off. Marriage brought its own challenges. I could live on very little food during a day; however, my husband ate and ate big. Every evening for dinner, he had to have a meat, vegetable, a potato or rice and salad. Lots of times, he had seconds. I had honestly never seen anybody eat that much food.
When my own children came along, they were taught the same food rules I had learned. I don’t know if they are carrying this tradition forward, but if so, I hope they are also using portion control. Today, I still hate to see food wasted so, Mother, you did a good job on that. At this time, I can’t change something that is ingrained from early childhood. However, I have learned to keep my mouth sewn shut if I see food abuse going on. It almost doesn’t bother me anymore……………almost.