Our house smells like Christmas at the moment. I made “stage 1” of our Christmas cake yesterday and the house is infused with the smells of spice and sherry. It gives me a lot of pleasure.

I love the Christmas season. I love all the traditions surrounding it. I love the food and the decorations and the hype leading up to it. It’s something that was always a big deal when I was growing up, and the whole thing just brings me a sense of security and comfort. And passing on some of those traditions to my children just makes me feel so ridiculously happy.

My husband does not feel the same way about Christmas. He’s no grinch or Christmas hater or anything like that, but he does seem to be irritated by the decorations coming out too soon (actually I’m with him on that because I love Hallowe’en too and I don’t think it should get squished out by another holiday). Also his mother and grandmother (who raised him) were not particular fans of Christmas, so I imagine it was a very different childhood experience for him.

I suppose there’s some feeling around Christmas that you’re harkening back to “simpler times”, times that never actually existed in reality, but I don’t care about the reality aspect of it anyway. I’ve got my feet set firmly in the realm of fantasy.

Today I’ll start the pudding. I also have intentions around toasting pumpkin seeds from the insides of our Jack O’Lanterns and making some wintery pumpkin soup with some of the other guts.

I like cooking – although standing for more than an hour at the moment makes me crampy and uncomfortable. I like the process of putting ingredients together and in general the resultant meal does taste a lot better than anything pre-packaged and preserved. The problem is the time-cost. In general, and what with the children being such picky eaters (both in terms of what they’ll eat, but also in that they just pick at tiny birdlike amounts from any given meal), it’s easier to buy something that can be cooked and served within 30 minutes. And which can preferably be deconstructed to some degree so that everyone can eat the bits they like and leave the bits they don’t.

I’m not going fighting over food with them. I’m not going to force them to eat a plate of something they don’t like – regardless of whether I think they “should” like it, or “should” be hungry. I think it causes untold damage to do things like this. They are old enough to own their own bodies and their own hunger levels. I’m not going teaching them to override that. Even when I think they’re wrong.

It’s really hard though. Really bloody frustrating. I totally had an internal image of children who would eat child-sized portions of healthy adult food by now. That is not the picture of mealtime at our house.

It is slowly, glacially, improving, and they are actually pretty willing to try a taste of a new thing – even though every new thing is invariably met with disgust and hatred – we have no “standoffs”, there’s no food-violence or over-riding of their autonomy. The trust is there, I think – both in their parents and in themselves. I think long-term it will stand to us all.

There’s the thing about parenting though, isn’t it? We think. We have no true idea what the long-term consequences of our decisions are going to be. And despite the very very best of intentions (and what parents don’t have those – only actively abusive ones?), the impact of our decisions will out and it’s the impact that should be of concern. Fuck our intentions, kinda.

I mean, kids are probably predisposed to love and forgive parents who, genuinely and with no malice aforethought, fucked them up. Coz we do, and we will.

Last night I was reading an article on the purported “best” way to deal with sex education and notions of consent and safety with your kids and different ages. It was a good article and I pretty much agreed with the approach across the board (can’t beat a good bit of confirmation bias, wrapped up in someone else’s opinion). But when I got to the bit about teenagers, terror struck me.

I’m scared of my kids being teenagers. Not of rebellion and acting out or shouting matches or anything like that. I’m worried they won’t cope. I’m worried they’ll get sad or fall into an emotional hole so deep that they don’t ever come out. And I know that when they reach that age, the automatic trust and connection we have now might not be there anymore. Coz, teenagers.

But maybe it will be. Maybe that’s the foundations that we’re building now. So, yeah. No fighting over mealtimes. No overriding their autonomy with my opinions. And maybe that’ll build the trust that’ll get us through from 13 to 23.

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