“I don’t mind!” – “Oh yes you do!”

A tribute to MFK Fisher

My tween age son has the habit of answering “I don’t mind” to most parental questions. So do his friends. We recently had one over for a spot of lunch. I asked him if he wanted second helpings – the boy seems to be growing by the minute, he must be hungry! “I don’t mind,” he answered.

“I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand what you mean by that,” I said.

“Uh, well, I don’t really mind, you know?”

Oh, was this meant to clarify things? I hung in there. “So is this a yes or a no kind of not minding?”

“MUUUUUUM, you are embarrassing him! He doesn’t mind!”

I will spare you the follow up to this clumsy exchange. Suffice to say that lunch was swiftly terminated by two fleeing boys, one (my tween age son) looking for a a hole to jump in, and the other (the easy going chappy) still hungry or again full – we will never know.

Unfortunately this wasn’t a rare example of “not minding”. It was one of many and I was beginning to despair. What should I do about this seemingly un-bothered generation of children?

Thankfully a newly discovered Californian food writer has come to my rescue. In Love in a dish and other pieces Melanie Frances Kennedy (MFK) Fisher recounts the anecdote of her first Coast to Coast travel experience with her Uncle Evans. Sat in the train’s dining-car, the 19 year old Fisher is asked by her uncle which omelette she would rather order, whether with wild asparagus or fresh mushrooms. Her answer rings close to my ears: “I really don’t care,” she said, something which didn’t go down well with Uncle Evans. He delivered a most eloquent tirade:

“You should never say that again, dear girl. It is stupid, which you are not. It implies that the attentions of your host are basically wasted on you. So make up your mind before you open your mouth. Let him believe, even if it is a lie, that you would infinitely prefer the exotic wild asparagus to the banal mushrooms, or vice versa. Let him feel that it matters to you…and even that he does!”

I will make a note of these wise words, which left a lasting impression on young MFK Fisher, and I will recite them at any future instance of my son and his friends “not minding”. Tween age son will hate me for it, but his friends’ mothers won’t, of this I am positive, and the world will be full of gentlemen in the making, well mannered, attentive and honest!

A big thank you from the bottom of my heart goes to our own Jilanne Hoffmann, (www.JilanneHoffmann.com) who recommended MFK Fisher’s books to me only a few days ago. Wonderful reading tip, Jilanne, thanks!

Do your children “mind” or “not mind”? As always, I will love to hear from you.

All the best,

OG&Bs

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About ofglassandbooks

Who, me? A fan of good reads and glass jars experiences; budding fiction writer in the very little and spare time available...
This entry was posted in books that influence, Books, reading, reviews, boys, change behaviour, hungry, inspire, motivate, reading, tweenagers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “I don’t mind!” – “Oh yes you do!”

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Well, at least you get an “I don’t mind.” Sometimes all my teen son gives me is a grunt and an eye roll. 😉 But I love that advice. I may have to paraphrase those words myself. 🙂

  2. My youngest is now 18, I don’t recall him uttering the words ‘I don’t mind’ that often or maybe I just didn’t notice. However he does often reply ‘I don’t know’ when asked about what he will be doing today. This drives my husband mad.

    When I was a young person I was often guilty of not minding. My fiance found it frustrating that I never minded what we did, I wasn’t being difficult I really didn’t mind what we did, I was just happy to be with him. After a couple of years we broke up but got back together again a year later, by which time I had begun to mind what we did. He wasn’t so keen on this new more assertive person I had become.

    One thing I never ever said I didn’t mind about was food. I have always been a very fussy eater (not quite so bad now) this meant that I usually did mind what I ate.

    good luck with training the local tweenies.

    • Thanks for the brilliant comment. I didn’t realise that not minding could just mean being happy – or trusty of somebody we think knows best. And I’m happy that other people’s children have similarly peculiar non-committal replies! This cheers me up!
      All the best and keep in touch!

  3. Neeks says:

    My daughter is 18 now, and the most common response I’ve gotten from her has always been, “I don’t care” or a chin to chest mumble that I’m supposed to be able to decipher. Ah kids. I usually respond like you did – “so is that a yes or a no?” 🙂

    • Excellent! Your comment makes my experience feel more normal, thank you! Although this also means that I still have a few years before the ‘I don’t mind, or care’ phase is over for my tween age kids!
      All the best, and thanks for popping in!

  4. I’m so glad you’re enjoying Fisher! Yay!

    I haven’t gotten the “I don’t minds/cares” yet, but then my son is only 10. Stay tuned….

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