MAMA ON EATING
When we were growing up, Mama had some rules we needed to follow.
Breakfast, on a school day, was at 6:00am and we had to be out of the house by 6:30 to get to school by 7:00. Yes, my school was only half an hour away by foot. On a weekend or holiday, the meal was at 8:00am.
Breakfast consisted of something sweet – champorado (softened rice mixed with cocoa powder and milk) or cereal, and hotdog on rice, or toast with egg and butter and cheese, with hot chocolate or milk. We were not allowed to eat cake, brownies, ice cream, cookies or any other snack food for breakfast.
A morning snack was called for at around 10:00am. This consisted of some bread, cookies, cake or brownies with light coffee.
Lunch was at 12:00nn sharp. Papa and I would get home around the same time – 11:45am, so we would have time to wash up before sitting down to the meal. My dad would then take a power nap and return to the office by 12:30pm. I would have gone back to school as well.
Lunch was the first full meal of the day, with meat (pork/chicken/beef/fish) and vegetables and rice. Yes, we were taught to eat (and love) our vegetables early. Drinks were either juice, milk or water. Cake, cookies, pie or ice cream was for dessert.
An afternoon snack was necessary at around 4:00pm, which is about the time we would get home from school. This was considerably more substancial than the morning snack – cheese sandwich, spaghetti, pancit, or whatever was available in the refrigerator, with juice or milk.
Dinner was at 7:00pm. On movie nights, we would eat early and be brought to the movie house before the first show, which was usually 7:30. She usually let us watch all the movies we wanted in summer and holidays but only on Fridays during school time. Dinner was also a full meal with dessert.
Softdrinks were only allowed during parties and special occasions. Sandwiches were usually relegated to picnics and field trip lunches. Candies were supposed to be allowed only after holidays, but that was hard to control. Eating out “required” an occasion or at least a reason, like celebrating a birthday or anniversary. We couldn’t eat out for no reason.
Today, I do all the cooking. I have been doing so for some time now, maybe about three years? We used to serve Mama oatmeal for breakfast until her doctor disallowed it because it raised her uric acid levels too much. But because Mama cannot chew her food anymore (she refuses to wear her dentures which ‘don’t fit anyway’), we have decided to grind up her rice and serve it to her like a pudding. Now she has rice pudding in the morning, noon and night, with meat, egg and, sometimes, soup. She used to love champorado but now sometimes pushes away the dish if we mix her pudding with chocolate and milk. By the way, her egg and meat should not be ground up or else she won’t eat them. They have to be cut up into bite-size pieces which she plays around in her mouth, sucking out the juices, before spitting them out (the dry pulp) onto the plate.
With her meal, she takes water. She refuses juice and milk, but she will ask for hot chocolate. The thing is, five minutes after she has completed her meal, she will ask, “What’s there to eat?”or demands that I “Make her hot chocolate” because she has totally forgotten that she had just eaten a complete meal. It worries me, as chocolate and milk have a tendency to make poop soft, and Mama’s countenance is no longer strong. There have been times when she would announce that she needed to go, only to have already gone, and we’d have to clean her up all the way to the bathroom.
What is uncanny is her sense of “preparation time”. She forgets that she has eaten but she knows when it is time to prepare the meal. Or rather, she knows when it is time to prepare lunch. At exactly 10:00am, whether we had just finished eating breakfast or if it’s been a couple of hours already, she will stop what she’s doing (usually sleeping), get up and call my name, and order me to “go to the kitchen to prepare food.” She does the same for the other meals, only that she starts reminding us really early. For example, to prepare for breakfast, she starts bugging us at 1:00am, and every hour thereafter. For dinner, she starts at 1:00pm, and every half-hour thereafter. Why? I have NO IDEA!
Author’s Note: If anyone reading this can relate to what I’m saying, then my decision to write it out is validated.