Posted by: rocketbride | July 4, 2013

desperately seeking strawberries

(This is an article I wrote at the beginning of July. Upon finishing, I realized it was weaksauce and wrote a better post about Drinking During Pregnancy. Enjoy my lameness. – Ed.)

We went strawberry picking with my friend Sarah and her three girls yesterday. This is part of my campaign as a parent to indulge in family activities I never did as a child (see also: camping). I’m not sure if it’s just innate stubbornness or if I’m easily suckered by all the things I read, but I’m actively trying to be, if not a better parent than my own, than a different parent. Yesterday that meant searching for strawberries.

My mom hates strawberries: it started as an allergy and faded away to a general dislike of most berries. My dad is from a poor immigrant Italian family; what did they know from berry picking? So I grew up cut off from the berry pleasures so common to my Southern Ontario fellows. I never picked berries. I never ate berries at home, and so shunned them in public. I got a brief taste of what I was missing when I lived in the Annapolis Valley for a few years, but it didn’t stick. I don’t dislike strawberries, like my mom. I just don’t get it.

I first tried picking five years ago. I was invited along by another family, and I thought it would be a fun time for me and Blake. This was a massive overstatement: take a kid who doesn’t have the attention span or endurance to get the berries, combine with a mom who is trying hard but just doesn’t understand what the fuss is about, and you get a kid who sat at the edge of the field, talking to himself while his mom did all the work so it wouldn’t be a wasted drive. This, in a nutshell, is the problem with doing “enriching” activities you think you all might like: it’s so easy to convince yourself that you will have a perfect family moment that you forget you are working with imperfect materials. This happened to me a lot when Blake was younger.

Yesterday, though, I didn’t have Blake the Reluctant Harvester. I had my middle son Sage, who is slow to follow instructions but a diligent picker nonetheless, and Maggie, a toddler who may not be walking but who can be bribed with a constant stream of over-ripe strawberries (or, “see-daddies” as she once called them). We ended up picking over 4 pints of fruit, half of which was in my freezer by the end of the afternoon. And sometime in that field, in between tossing berries to Maggie and admiring Sage’s progress, I took a fateful bite. Then I didn’t stop until the kids were looking at me funny.

I’m not sure if this latest conversion will stick. I’m pretty sure I’ll never have a taste for the off-season jet-setting supermarket berries. Maybe I just need to be eating them right off the vine, surrounded by red-smeared children under a hot sun. Because: holy moly. I rediscovered what everyone else already knows: strawberries + kids = awesome.


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