In the sense that,
"You gotta know when to hold 'em,
know when to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away,
know when to run."
Gods bless my baby boomer parents: products of Great-Depression era, hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-living parenting themselves.
Anyone my age has lived in confusing times - what with growing up with VCRs, rotary phones, microwaves, cell phones, and the Internet...but, my generation has embraced all those changes rather well.
Then I consider my parents, who've lived with those same technological advances, but their archives reach way back further than mine do. I mean, we're talking wood-burning furnaces, hot water bottles, stay-at-home moms and cooking from scratch! They grew up with mothers and grandmothers who made their own pies, gravy, canned their own goods, etc. Life was simple, it was rough, and everyone did their share - nobody was exempt.
So that's my parents' frame of reference when they had me and my brother, right? But, somewhere in the 1980s, our family moved to a new house, and that purchase was only feasible if my mom left her "job" as a stay-at-home mom and went back to work, which she did. That move, which happened when I was in the 4th grade, is when I began to remember the foods of my childhood being pork chops in the crockpot, instant mashed potatoes, Hamburger Helper, and Swanson's salisbury steak.
My supposedly awesome-baker grandmother died in the early 80s, when I was 6. My other grandmother, who allegedly could make out of this world gravy, died in 1976. I was one year old. So, I never grew up like countless other women my age, in the kitchen with their grandmothers...and I never really grew up in the kitchen with my mother, either. Cooking was a chore, and a tiring one for her at that. Hence, the crockpot, Hamburger Helper, etc. She wasn't much of a baker, either, so I have no real memories of making cupcakes or cookies with her.
It's a wonder, really, how I ended up in culinary school, with a passion for food and wellness, at the age of 37.
Thankfully, my parents are good sports about my culinary endeavors, and my mother, especially, is always very willing to try whatever dish I've put together. She and I talk shop a little bit, and I suspect cooking is still not her thing, but she supports me, and that's good. She's very adventurous, and will eat just about anything.
Dad, though. Very much a creature of habit. Very much a "meat-and-potatoes" guy. I discovered in the last few years that he really loves fried chicken, but because my mom doesn't like to make it, he doesn't get it often. He informed me last night that I make "healthy" food (whatever that means), and I only convinced him to stay for dinner with us last night when I told him I'd heat up a can of Van Camp's Pork and Beans***, as well as make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese***, for him
And so, there it is. Kenny Rogers' famous mantra, for my purposes:
You gotta know when to hold em,
know when to fold em,
when to make Pork and Beans,
and know when to refrain from lecturing your dad on his crappy eating habits.
***Incidentally, I did not purchase these two items. They
somehow ended up in my inventory after my husband did the groceries
about three months ago. They are gone now, and my husband has been banned from food shopping.