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Happy New Year! and boiling oil and risk

Posted by on Dec 31, 2010 in Blog Posts | 4 comments

So, there we are, New Years probably 1978. I was about 5  my brother 8, and there in the middle of our table is a boiling pot of oil perched on a platform atop an open flame with pointy sticks in it. Times have changed…

I love fondu, so I just bought an electric pot (also, the open flame one doesn’t stay hot enough to do Japanese Hot Pot cooking that I love.) So, I think this New Year’s we will do our own, 21st century “safer” version of fondu. No open flames or boiling oil perched on a platform. (Sorry Mom, if you’re reading this, I exchanged the fancy cheese-knife set for the electric fondu… I hope you aren’t mad… We’ll have hot-pot when you visit :)

Our generation simply has a different view of risk, for better or for worse– largely worse I think. While I think it’s probably not a good idea to have hot oil on a table with young children (though there was never an incident with us)  it’s probably OK to let them play outside on their own, or not obsess about high-fructose corn syrup.

There is a pervasive worry and hysteria today about what kids are eating and what they weigh. From the mom of a healthy nine-month-old, “Every time I feed my daughter I feel like I am on a knife-edge between anorexia and obesity.” All part of the cultural anxiety and hysteria, and not helpful. (Do you think our mothers would have used an  app to tell them how many ounces or servings of fruits/veggies we needed every day? Would our grandmothers have obsessed over weigh-ins and grams of sugar? Times change.)

I heard part of a radio interview on risk and the researcher said something like “We really need to fear our inability to accurately assess risk.”

I think of the mom I talked to who wanted to research protein before serving her  healthy child a meat lasagna as she read  somewhere that too much protein can cause kidney problems, or the mom that worried her one-year-old wasn’t getting enough protein so she served chicken nuggets five times a week since it was the only protein he reliably ate… The worry doesn’t help, in fact, the worry and doubt negatively affected feeding in both these scenarios. Are there things you think you worry about, possibly unnecessarily?

Are there things your parents did/let you do that you would never consider? Is it a good thing?

here’s my short list

  • oil fondu
  • go to the local park alone in second grade (there was a great pond there too!)
  • bike without a helmet (I blame an incident in my medical training for my fear of head injuries)
  • sleep under the back window of the car on long car trips…
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  1. Jess

    Here’s my list of stuff I did that my kid probably won’t be doing (either because of my own worries, or because it’s become socially unacceptable):

    *Starting at age 6, I could play outside pretty much all day as long as I was within “hollering distance”. We lived in the country, so this meant I might be out of sight in woods, fields or over at other friends houses without my mom directly knowing where I was.

    *My Mom, who is German, was always health conscious and served nutritious food and family meals but there was often Kool-Aid or sweet tea in the ‘fridge (we lived in the South) and those drinks were never restricted, nor was juice. I also can’t remember a time when I wasn’t allowed to drink soft-drinks (including ones with caffeine).

    *I was constantly around adults who smoked. Plus, candy cigarettes were a major treat :-)

    *Of course, no bicycle helmet and sleeping in the back seat of the car. Not to mention (again, this was the south) I rode in the back of an open pickup truck more times than I can count between the ages of 4 and 14.

    Things I probably worry about unnecessarily (and am trying to ease up on):

    *Juice: the pediatrician and dentist seem to be obsessed with restricting juice, although my son is perfectly healthy, not in the least overweight, eats well and has very healthy teeth. My husband thinks our standard mix of organic unfiltered apple juice and sparkling water is a perfectly healthy beverage and thinks that now that my son is almost four (in March) it’s silly to restrict it. I think… he’s probably right, since DS also drinks plenty of water and milk.

    *Sugar/candy: I went from zero sugar during my son’s first year to a twice a week treat rule to a once a day treat rule. Over the holidays he’s had A LOT of treats– daily chocolate from his Advent calendar, cookies, cakes, all the treats of the season and usually more than one a day. Plus, since I’m due any day with baby #2, husband has been doing mornings with my son and the result is that my son has a morning cocoa habit that’s right up there with our grown-up coffee/tea habit (only one, but it’s the first thing he asks for every morning). My husband thinks this is a fine, normal part of childhood, that obsessing about how many sweets he eats is silly given that, again, he eats plenty of regular food (he’s very omnivorous) and is as healthy as a horse. I feel…ambivalent. I feel like after the holidays we need to re-equilibriate to once per day; don’t know if cocoa should count or not.

  2. DeeLeigh

    Oops. meant “that probably wouldn’t be considered appropriate”

  3. DeeLeigh

    I’m your big brother’s age (born in 1969). I don’t have kids, and if I did, I imagine I’d be a little less risk averse than many of today’s parents. Some of the things that I did as a kid that probably wouldn’t be considered inappropriate now:

    – I was allowed to play anywhere I wanted to in the neighborhood, unsupervised, starting at age 6.
    – I walked to school and back by myself or with friends starting at age 7.
    – I was home alone after school starting at age 8.
    – I started babysitting kids from other families and cooking dinner at 11.
    – I never wore a helmet while biking, or doing anything, for that matter – nobody did in those days.
    – We didn’t wear pads while skating, either.
    – My parents didn’t always know where I was, and there were no cell phones.
    – My friends and I would ride our bikes along the shoulder of a road with a 55 mile an hour speed limit to get to the store.
    – We played with realistic-looking toy guns and squirt guns.
    – I was allowed to go car camping and skiing with my friends (no adults) for days at a time starting at age 16.
    – I was allowed to drink small amounts of alcohol from the time I was a little kid
    – My parents were weight and health conscious, but most families passed out cool aid, ice cream, and other treats to kids all the time – nobody thought anything of it.

    • katja

      I love this list! Mine was similar as a small kid. How did we ever survive!? The car seat thing is such a bummer. I think it has changed our lives more than any safety issue. We would drive everywhere as kids bc we could lie down and sleep, stretch out, drive through the night… Only now am I enjoying car trips more. If you don’t have a kid that sleeps in the carseat reliably, it really sucks. They are basically in 5 point restraints for hours. Misery. I think my medical training further warped any sense of rational risk assessment I had. I won’t go into the gory details, but a particular incident really sticks with me. Ugh.