Slice of life

by Meg Heiman

A couple in Florida made national news a few weeks ago when they went on strike to protest their children’s unwillingness to do their chores. The parents refused to cook, clean or drive for their children until the two kids, ages 17 and 12, “shaped up.”<BR><BR>Parents’ striking to protest lazy children is nothing new. Unfortunately, such efforts are usually not effective. <BR><BR>For one thing, a strike involves workers withdrawing their labor to place pressure on their employer to meet their demands. We can infer, then, that parents who strike = workers; kids = employer. From the start, parents who strike put themselves in a precarious position. <BR><BR>Also, the Florida parents may have underestimated their children’s ability to hold out. I’m always impressed by how strong the will of children can be, regardless of their ages or sizes. I know four kids who would rather eat dry spaghetti noodles for a week - and think nothing of it - than fill the wood bin or take out the garbage. <BR><BR>The striking parents in Florida struggle with the same issue many of us do: how DO we get our kids to do what we want them to do? We try all kinds of tricks: negotiation, manipulation, reward systems, bribes; we give privileges; we take privileges away; we try being firm; we try being flexible. Sometimes our tactics work. Sometimes they don’t.<BR><BR>This system of interaction is part of what’s referred to as “family dynamics.” Dynamics. Dynamite. See the connection? There are powerful and conflicting forces at work here. The ultimate goal of each force is control. The parents who gain control of their kids are called “good” and their kids are considered “good children.” The parents who don’t gain control are called a number of things, and so are their kids.<BR><BR>Whether we label the striking parents in Florida determined or dingbats, we want to know: who won? Did the kids shape up? Last I knew the children had the house; the parents were living and sleeping in a tent in their driveway. The children had a freezer full of TV dinners; the parents had a cooler of sandwiches. The children referred to their parents as “insane”; the mother referred to her children as “my babies.”<BR><BR>I’m rooting for the parents for obvious reasons, but I’m afraid it doesn’t look good for them, regardless of the outcome of the strike.<BR><BR>The recipe below for Tuna Salad is made from ingredients we typically have on hand. It’s good served on crackers or bread, and with soup. Best of all, it keeps well in a cooler, if such circumstance should arise. Enjoy!<BR><BR>This recipe is from Picnic in the Park. <BR><BR>TUNA SALAD<BR><BR>4 celery ribs <BR><BR>2 T cider vinegar <BR><BR>2 T sliced green onions <BR><BR>1/2 t salt <BR><BR>1/2 t sugar <BR><BR>1/4 t dried oregano <BR><BR>1/4 t dried basil <BR><BR>Freshly ground black pepper to taste <BR><BR>1 can (7 oz) water-packed tuna, drained and flaked<BR><BR>Cut each celery rub lengthwise into four strips, then crosswise into 1-inch lengths, to make about 2 cups. Place in a bowl and stir in next seven ingredients. Gently fold in tuna.<BR><BR>