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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Megan serves Supper

Yesterday, Megan came in to see Bow in the afternoon. It was prearranged so that she would be able to serve Bow his supper and put him to bed. Once a week she will be doing this, and there are many benefits, not the the least of which is the growing intimacy between Megan and Bow.

I explained many minute details of the procedure to Megan, before I left, but apparently one thing hadn't been made clear: when serving Bow a meal, we serve one item at a time. The whole dinner is displayed to him on a white folding table on the other side of the glass, but Bow chooses one course at a time.

Why do we do it this way? To avoid waste. Bow can have the whole dinner. But until he finishes one serving, he doesn't get another one. If we did it any other way, here is what would happen: Bow would take one bite of each item, but if he didn't think it was all that great, he would go on to the next. He would eat only the choice bits of each fruit, leaving the rest to rot. He would exercise his right to choose by exploiting the best parts of everything, not caring what lesser being later consumed his leavings. In some cases, he would also smear food around, allowing ants and other insects to clean up after him, unless we immediately washed the floor afterwards.

In nature, there is no waste. Those higher up in the social order eat all the best bits, and those lower down eat what is left over, but everything gets eaten. In our modernized human society, we pretend that everyone is equal, and everyone gets the best bits, but if we have leftovers, we can't give them to the poor. The poor have to be given brand new food, and if people see other people picking through their garbage, they are greatly offended. Also, even the ants are banned from our homes. We'd rather have things go to waste than have it get messy!

In my house, it's not quite that way. Our dogs and the chickens do eat scraps, and we have no garbage disposal. Still, I discourage Bow from going for just the best bits of every item. Unless he finishes the first thing he asked for, he doesn't get to ask for another. (There are certain reasonable exceptions: if he shows me that part of the apple he got is rotten on the inside, I don't make him eat it.)

Anyway, I neglected to explain all this to Megan, and she didn't know. However, Bow got the point across to her just fine. She asked him  what he wanted, and he said he wanted an apple, and she asked him what else, thinking she would give him more than one item at a time, but he kept answering apple, until she gave in and got him the apple. In this way, Bow helped enforce the rule, and all  went off without a hitch.

Afterwards, Megan asked me: "Do you just give him one item at a time?"

And I answered: "That's right!"

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