Don’t be a Chicken


Do you remember the first time you watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Did you get the feeling that Willy Wonka didn’t particularly like kids? Were you freaked out by the oompa-loopas? I was. Some of us are afraid of little people..not little people as in people with dwarfism, but little people as in those who have not grown up yet. Perhaps we should be more afraid of the ones who think they are already grown-ups.

I never really had much of an urge to have children when I was younger. The first time I taught a children’s class I was completely intimidated by those little buggers. I was aloof and afraid that if I said or did something wrong I would scar them for life. I had zero little people skills. I didn’t get to choose who was in my class and some of them, quite frankly, I really didn’t like. The thing is, you don’t get to choose your children either, you never know what you will get and if you will actually like them. Even the adopted ones.

Over time, I came to develop some skills and I learned a few things along the way. First that children are teachers as much as the teachers are. Second that it is a job of a parent, teacher or others in children’s lives to place a certain amount of burden on children. It is your job as an adult to realize that you have become your parent (whether you are one or not) and to realize that your anger toward their imperfections will keep you from having your own relationships with your children or other people in your life.  And, that parents are not the source of unconditional love, children are.

Freud had all sorts of interesting things to say about family relationships. In fact, most of mythology deals with social relationships. There is plenty of analysis about the Oedipus complex in men, but  I came across and interesting one recently on the Eastern Oedipus. This theory states that the main crisis for the Eastern male is learning that his mother had him not out of love for him or for want of children, but out of social duty. This “unconditional” love that parents give actually has lots of conditions and is not always driven by, and certainly not initiated b,y a personal love of the child, but by their duty to their family or of the parents love of each other. What they were hoping for and what they got are very likely two different things. I wonder how JJ will feel when he finally realizes that his mother had a life outside of him, that her imperfections are the lot of every human being, that they did not scar him but provided him with lessons for facing challenges in life and it is his job to step up to those challenges. His duty to himself and to others is to re-learn from his childhood the lesson of unconditional love.

Whether you decide to have your own, adopt, take on someone else’s or not have any, children teach you about what it means to be an adult and they teach you how to be a child again. If you are afraid of children, it’s a pretty good sign that you are afraid of life. Don’t be a chicken.

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Willy Wonka: Well, fortunately, small boys are extremely springy and elastic. So I think we’ll put him in my special taffy-pulling machine. That should do the trick.
[To an Oompa Loompa.]
Willy Wonka: To the taffy-pulling room. You’ll find the boy in his mother’s purse. But be extremely careful.
Mrs. Teevee: To the taffy-pulling room?!
[Oompa Loompa whispers to Wonka.]
Willy Wonka: No, no. I won’t hold you responsible.

“You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.” ― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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I’m thinking we should all just decided to be Virgos this week (sans chicken), because everyone else’s food horoscope sucks: This week, you’re focusing on your skills and talents, which may give rise to a new business opportunity. You’ve been taking stock of your emotional involvement in your work for a while. Now it’s time to take action on the decisions you’ve made. Finding insight may be as simple as looking into your heart. Likewise, Vietnamese-style chicken curry soup can help your heart by including healthy ginger, lemon grass, cilantro, and curry to limit inflammation and encourage circulation.

Vegetarian Vietnamese Curry Soup (from Epicurious.com)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inch piece fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
8 mushrooms, sliced
1 pound fried tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetarian fish sauce
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 kaffir lime leaves
8 small potatoes, quartered
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
8 sprigs fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion and shallots until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic, ginger, lemon grass and curry powder. Cook for about 5 minutes, to release the flavors of the curry. Stir in green pepper, carrots, mushrooms and tofu. Pour in vegetable stock and water. Season with fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then stir in potatoes and coconut milk. When soup returns to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 40 to 60 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Garnish each bowl with a pile of bean sprouts and cilantro.
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