Greta has decided to become a vegetarian. She and her friend Abi came up with the idea on a play date last week. The two of them have a history of concocting new ideas together. In July, they became hippies. They said hippies don't take baths or change their clothes, an idea that apparently held a lot of appeal for them during the dirtiest days of the summer.
I don't know the exact origin of the vegetarian thing. But, like the hippy thing, she is steadfast in her commitment to becoming a vegetarian, at least for now.
Through trial and error, I have learned that telling her she can't do something is a sure-fire way to enhance her commitment. So when she announced last week that she was going to be a vegetarian, I rolled with it.
"So you're not going to eat any meat?" I asked.
"No," she said. "Nothing with eyes."
"No chicken nuggets? No hamburgers? No turkey?" I inquired, naming a few of her favorite foods.
"Nope." She was resolute.
"Not even pepperoni?" She adores pepperoni above all else.
She contemplated. "Can I be a vegetarian that only eats pepperoni?"
"You can be any kind of vegetarian you want," I reply, hoping to create a few loopholes in the scenario. This kid, who hates all vegetables except for carrot sticks and broccoli made by Miss Liz, and only Miss Liz, isn't going to eat meat?
"Nope, no pepperoni either," she finally decides.
This is one of those parenting moments - in theory I'm in charge, so if I tell her she has to eat meat, she has to eat meat. But I also want to support her individuality, her right to explore her beliefs, and to figure things out on her own. So I decide to put a few parameters in place.
"Well," I say, "if you're going to be vegetarian, we need to talk to your doctor about it."
Her eyes get wide. "Why? Will I be in trouble?"
"No, but you are a growing girl, and growing girls need protein. Vegetables are good for you, but you need protein to build strong muscles and bones. Your doctor can help you figure out what other foods you can eat that will give you protein." I'm feeling kind of smug, thinking this will be enough to change her mind.
"Okay," she says without hesitation. "And lets get online and look up what other vegetarians eat for protein!"
Hmmm. Good move, kid.
So we look it up. She hates peanut butter, so scratch that. She took one look at the picture of tofu and stuck out her tongue. I'm back to feeling smug, certain she won't be able to stick with it.
"Well," she sighs. "We're going to have to get clever about this."
So we're on day eight. It turns out she really likes veggie burgers and tofu nuggets. She has experimented with salad, and found some versions she likes. Lots of cheese, yogurt, milk and fruit.
I upped my game and cooked her favorite meal the other night: a sausage stir-fry with feta, black olives and red peppers. She loves sausage, but she didn't break. "Just serve me the olives, peppers, cheese and pasta, Mom." she said.
"I want to be a vegenarian too" says Finn.
Seriously, I'm in charge, right?