This morning I made the rookie mistake of putting baking soda in the waffle batter instead of baking powder. The whole batch had to get tossed after the first bite, Mark and I both making strangled cat sounds while spitting the salty offenders back onto our plates. Anya thought they were fine and ate about half of one before joining the rest of us in waffle shunning.
I switched to an eggs-bacon-toast breakfast plan and got to work. Sadly, it wasn't until I put plates down in front of my family that I remembered Lily's recent announcement. She's decided to become a vegetarian like her friends at school.
So, I picked up the piece of bacon and we started to talk about it. Should she eat it? Did she want to eat it? Did she understand that you can't be a vegetarian and still eat pig? Did she understand that we'd help her with whatever decision she made, no matter why she made it? She sat there for a good ten minutes, unable to eat, just trying to figure out what was more important: her love of bacon (which I rarely make) or fitting in. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this fundamental problem of growing up: how much are we ourselves and how much are we like the crowd?
"Olive eats fish." She finally said.
"Yes, her family does eat fish. They're what's called 'lacto-ovo pescitarians'." I confirmed.
"That means they eat eggs and cheese and drink milk too." Mark further explained.
"How 'bout this: Olive can eat fish and I can eat bacon." She grinned crookedly at us, not so confident we'd see the wisdom of her ways.
"That's a choice you can make, honey. But its kinda limited, especially since I don't make bacon very often and it's not really good for you."
She stared at her plate some more. Then slid sideways into my embrace, tears sneaking down her cheeks.
"Do you want me to take the bacon away?" I asked gently? She nodded yes and then clung tightly to me, sobs escaping her.
It's moments like these where I want to just lie to her, tell her that vegetarians make exceptions for bacon. Moments like these where I want to take away her desperate need to fit in and just let her do as she pleases. But it's not my struggle and I know that. All I can do is make sure there is always a reasonable choice on the table to support her being a lacto-ovo pescitarian, if that's what she really wants.
But dammit, it's hard to see her struggle.