Southern Californians:

Does Cal Worthington still do commercials with his dog, Spot?  Or did he die, like, ten years ago and I never noticed?  I can’t say why this question is nagging me right now, or why for the last 48 hours I have had If you need a car or truck, go see Cal running through my mind, since I don’t need a car or truck, and I probably wouldn’t see Cal if I did, but running through it has been, and the random curiosity is killing me, though I am too lazy to Google over it.

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I realized last night that although my kids love dressing up for Halloween (well, except for Elvis—he still can’t figure out why we force him into these crazy get-ups every year), they are fairly indifferent to trick-or-treating.  This is no mystery, as far as I’m concerned.  I think it’s a natural result of being allowed to consume candy in disproportionate amounts all year round.  A minor point of contention in Sugar Daddy’s and my co-parenting career has been his lackadaisical attitude toward our children’s candy habits.  SD thinks I am something of a candy ogre because when candy is served—which is not quite but almost on a daily basis–I think one piece ought to be plenty for any growing child.  He thinks three is more reasonable.  Or five.  Whatever.

He subscribes to the anti-Prohibition school of candy consumption.  His mother severely limited his and his brothers’ sugar intake when he was growing up, and he blames his frequent (and gluttonous) sugar binges as an adult on this one aspect of dietary strictness in his childhood household.

To an extent I’ve bought into his theory.  I don’t have any particular “thing” about sugar.  I mean, sugar is in stuff, people eat stuff, most of them don’t get cancer, so sugar is not the enemy, in my mind.  Candy is not the enemy.  It’s just not good for you.  Which is not to say that it is inherently bad.  It just isn’t inherently good.  I’ve never noticed that my children become more hyper or don’t sleep well if they have an unusually high amount of sugar in their systems.  Occasionally my husband does go out of town, you know, and they’ll go without candy for days and be just as hyper or not hyper; it really makes no difference.  But if my children are going to take in calories, I’d just as soon have them take in a nutrient or two while they’re at it.  That’s all.

I don’t have a sugar issue as an adult, but there were no particular sugar issues under my parents’ regime.  In our house food wasn’t categorized as “good” or “bad”; there was regular old food and then there was “unduly expensive store-bought food.”  Junk food fell under this latter category, so it was rationed accordingly, and we all understood it as a money issue rather than a health issue.  So even though SD grew up with even less money than my family had, I ended up with the money issues and he ended up with sugar issues.  Each of us comes by it honestly, I guess.

In terms of how we think about food as adults, how much is owed to our upbringing?  Experts would have you believe that if you only feed your children whole grains, they’ll never develop a taste for Wonder Bread.  I am living proof that that is not necessarily true.  My parents fed us nothing but whole-wheat bread for the first several years of our lives.  This was a Mormon family in the ‘70s, and my mother would no sooner have bought bread at the store than she would have bought a pack of Lucky Strikes.  She didn’t just bake bread from scratch; she ground the wheat in her own meal.  You could not possibly get whole-grainier bread than what my mother fed us.  Nevertheless, I had no difficulty developing a taste for white bread later on.  Yes, even the Kleenexy Wonder Bread that is so reviled by dietary experts.  Now, as an adult I prefer whole-grain breads, but that’s largely because I’ve trained myself to prefer them.  I still really like white bread (though not the Kleenexy Wonder variety—only a really immature person could stomach that crap).

I also grew up drinking powdered milk, which I thought was just fine when it was the only milk I’d ever known—sure, I marveled at how much better milk tasted at my grandmother’s house, but when I got back home, I still drank the powdered stuff and thought nothing of it because that’s what we always drank.  (Though I can distinctly remember the day when we ran out of milk, and I was convinced that I could make some more with water and toothpaste.)  I don’t know when my parents started buying actual milk, but they did, and I wouldn’t drink powdered milk now for all the potato buds in the Bishop’s Storehouse.  Nor would I ever serve it to my children.  SD and I have been poor in our marriage tenure, but never that poor.  Perhaps we would have been less poor if we had been less proud, but I wouldn’t drink powdered milk and I wouldn’t ask any other human being to do it either.  And I can’t drink skim milk.  I went through a period where I could drink 1 percent, and I suppose I could again if my life depended on it, but eh, my life does not depend on it, and I choose 2 percent milk solids over optimal artery health.  So sue me.

Do you blame your food issues on your upbringing?  Or credit your superior eating habits to a superior dietary regimen in your childhood?  Talk amongst yourselves.  I need to make sure the Halloween candy is locked up properly.

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Go see
Cal!  Go see
Cal!  Go see
Cal!

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