When I was a kid, there were two ways I knew to make popcorn, either in a pan of hot oil, or the more fun way, with the use once, all-in-one Jiffy-Pop, with the growing tinfoil lid.
Then this amazing thing came out when I was a teenager, the hot air popcorn popper. All it required was cheap popcorn kernels, and almost no work or cleaning, and so popcorn became a food staple of mine in college. It seemed like everyone had a hot air popcorn popper.
Then, microwave popcorn came to market, and once again, it seemed like everyone forgot all previous methods of creating popcorn. For a decade or two, just about the only made-at-home popcorn I ate came from a microwave. There were even low-fat popcorn packages to make in the microwave, and I assumed this was a healthy enough snack.
But what did I know? Very recently, I came to find out that many people believe microwave popcorn is extremely unhealthy (references 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). There are indications that harmful compounds in the lining of the bags vaporize and leach into the popcorn (DuPont has agreed to eliminate use of the chemical FPOA by 2015, 5). Many people working at the plants that make the microwaveable popcorn developed a lung condition, which was sometimes fatal.
It seemed easy enough to revert to the 80s, and so I purchased this hot air popcorn popper on Amazon.com for $20. Now making and eating popcorn with my 2-year-old son is an effortless pleasure; he loves to watch the hot air popcorn popping process. I assume it’s as healthy as any empty-calorie snack, in that it has fiber, not many calories, and no real bad stuff (fat, additives, etc.). Hope no one tells me hot air poppers are unhealthy for some reason!
I don’t think many childless people realize they can be pretty judgmental about the way their friends and family deal with child rearing. I thought I was pretty open-minded, but I can see at least one big way I flipped in a belief after having my own son. I used to be judgmental of parents when I’d see pile after pile of toys in their house. I’d become even more judgmental when I saw parents bringing home junky toys for their kids every time they left the house for more than 10 minutes. I wondered what horrible things this was teaching these kids. Would they expect free stuff to rain upon them for the rest of their lives?
Along these lines, when my wife was pregnant, and my bachelor pad had already become something other than a bachelor pad, I made several very strong statements that I didn’t want to have a house with toys strewn about. I insisted to my wife that we would keep all of our son’s toys in his room, and not let them accumulate. We also would not buy him tons of junky toys. Just imagining my once minimal house becoming cluttered with child’s toys made me cringe.
Fast forward to today, 2.5 years later, and our living area has toys everywhere. We have stickers on our living room wall. And our son has a ton of toys, probably ten times more than I envisioned him having. But strangely, having my bachelor pad become a kiddie play zone has been totally fine with me. In fact, much of it is my own doing.
Even the phrase that used to send shivers up my spine five years ago was recently overheard coming out of my mouth: “Come with daddy grocery shopping and I’ll get you a toy.” What the hell has happened to me?
One could argue that I was judgmental, and I’ve become a hypocrite. But it almost feels like some biological change happened once I had my son, and my mind just works differently now. Am I ruining my son? I hope not. I’m banking on the belief that, if my wife and I are consistent, and follow through on promises as well as punishments, and if we set reasonable limits on behavior, then we won’t be spoiling our son. What do you think?