Saturday afternoon, we watched an American movie <Racing Stripes>, featuring a young zebra – Stripes is the name — who’s determined to be a racing horse. The plot is quite similar to another favourite of mine, <Babe>. The most intriguing part is that Stripes isn’t aware of his identity as a zebra (Nobody ever talks about that) until a vicious racing horse reveals the truth to him in the hope of bashing his confidence and eventually backing out of the game.

This lovely story summoned up the memory of watching a news clip “Mama Cat Adopts Squirrel” on the American eco-friendly website Care2. A big-hearted mother cat, who’s just given birth to quite a bunch of kittens, adopted an orphan baby squirrel. Growing up with his feline siblings has turned the squirrel into a cat in many curious ways. For instance, he’s tame enough to accept humans’ cuddle . What really left me in awe is that he even purrs when being stroked, exactly like a cat! He IS living proof of “Children learn what they live”.

I recalled writing back to my Belgian girlfriend on Friday night, talking about how some parents seem not at all bothered by the way their kids tuck in junk food. We both agreed that there should be limits and boundaries. Most people would assume that children are attracted to candy and the like by nature, but I beg to differ and I am speaking from my own experience.

Panda and I are not really crazy about snack foods, hence rarely do we stock up on them, meaning you don’t get to see them in our house more often than not. Under such circumstances, it’s only natural that Beam got used to the absence of junk food. So, whenever people offer her candy and the like, she just turns it down politely, which is purely a choice of her own and has absolutely nothing to do with us.

Ironically, candy and the like were introduced to Beam at school, where I thought is supposed to help parents “educate” children, by teachers who used them as rewards and classmates who simply can’t live without them. Fortunately, good habits are hard to break, just like bad ones, particularly if they are formed from young. Beam hasn’t really been affected by that. Well, we do find Marks & Spencer’s famous “Percy Pig” and Muji’s strawberry marsh mellows nice, but we only take them once in a while when the mood strikes. Then last year, she began to take an interest in Sprite when a neighbour kid in Taiwan offered her one can. I agree that she can have a cup of it no more than once every week if her craving strikes, and, like Percy Pig and the marsh mellows, it serves as a dessert after a proper meal. With the good habits formed earlier, she has no problem with these rules. I don’t buy these things unless she asks – Out of sight, out of mind — and only one product at a time – She learned to make decisions for herself.

For good measure, whenever we feel like getting the munchies, we practise portion control… by sharing. For example, we’d buy one Magnum (You’ve gotta admit that the TV commercial is so well-done!!) and take turns in having a bite, same as how we take turns to sip at the iced lemon tea. Some people might reckon we are stingy and cheap, or even jeer at us for doing so. But hey! Beam’s never ever had problem with sharing like a lot of kids do. Not at all. Apart from saving money, it’s a good way to exercise self-restraint — It’s like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes; the less you use it, the weaker it gets — which has become one of Beam’s remarkable dispositions.

Seriously, I’d rather save the money for good causes such as World Food Program by United Nations. I wonder how many of us are aware that hunger is the Number One health risk in the world. This is the reason why I am not complaining at all though we’re living without homemade meals for now. I’m truly grateful for being able to stay away from hunger.

The number of malnourished people worldwide is the population of the US, Canada and the EU combined, which is just under one billion people – nearly one seventh of the global population. Among them, approximately 60% are women and one fifth are children under the age of five.

Despite the horrifying figures, it’s not all doom and gloom. It takes only USD.0.25 to give a hungry schoolchild a cup of food that contains all the nutrition they need for the day. And by donating USD.50, you can feed a child at school for an entire year. How good is that?

So please! Lend a helping hand, for we are all God’s Family!


周六下午,電視播了部美國片<Racing Stripes>,講述一隻小斑馬成為冠軍賽馬的故事,有點類似我很喜歡的 “Babe”。最有趣的是,年幼就與父母失散而後在農場與各種家禽家畜為伍長大的小斑馬,始終沒有發覺自己與其他賽馬是不同物種的事實,直到某隻壞心腸的賽馬為了打擊牠阻止牠出賽而惡意告知。

這讓我想起在美國環保網站 Care2 上觀賞的一段新聞,有隻剛生了一窩貓咪的貓媽媽,很有愛心地收養了孤兒松鼠寶寶,結果松鼠寶寶變得跟家貓一樣,溫馴到可以讓人握在手中;最妙的是,如果撫摸牠,牠會回以 “呼嚕嚕” 的滿足聲,完全就是貓咪的反應。成長環境對於小動物都有如此根本性的影響,也難怪孟母要三遷了。。。

前天夜裡難得晚睡,因為回覆比利時女友伊莎的信;交筆友是我的主要嗜好之一,但是婚後,很多年都沒有辦法正常回信了,所以我要把握在這裡難得的 “Me Time”。她談到丈夫的姪兒們是被寵壞的小孩,飲食方面也很放縱,從早到晚不停地灌可樂吃零食等等。伊莎的專業與醫學有關,所以對於營養方面很注重,她的兩個小寶貝(都可愛滴不得了!)在三餐之間多數吃的是新鮮水果。

我覺得垃圾食物的高度消費,是本世代很普遍的現象,但追根究柢,關鍵還在父母身上,畢竟孩子就像面鏡子,只會實實在在反映成長的環境。有個普遍的迷思是,小孩子都無法拒絕糖果的誘惑,其實如果父母一開始在這方面就管制好,孩子根本不會養成這種習慣。我這麼說,是有切身經驗。我自己對於零食的興趣並不大,熊貓在這方面比我嘴饞,但是為了省錢,也非常少買,可以說祥的成長環境很少看到糖果可樂這些垃圾;慢慢地,就變成一種習慣,每次有人請祥吃糖果,她都是主動回應 “No, thanks.” 大多數的人都以為是我們不許,其實那真的是她自己的抉擇,就是沒興趣嘛。

等到四歲半第一次上幼稚園,終於開始有接觸,老師會用零食當獎勵,同學間慶生什麼的也會分享糖果等等,不過大概習慣已經養成,所以並沒有怎麼受到誘惑。在新加坡上幼稚園期間,同學請吃 Marks & Spencer 的 “Percy Pig” 軟糖,我們都覺得很好吃,不過也是偶爾買一包,想到了就拿一塊,並不多吃。去年回台灣,鄰居小姐姐請喝雪碧汽水,也愛上了,不過有了從小就養成的節制習慣當基礎,她並不吵著要,我規定吃完正餐才可以喝一小杯,她很欣然接受,喝的時候也很開心。如果她沒有要求,我更不會主動買。

我們還有一個小秘訣,就是控制攝取量。例如,我們偶爾想吃 Magnum 雪糕(廣告拍得非常誘人~),就買一支,然後三個人你一口我一口分著吃;想喝冰檸檬茶,就買一杯,同樣你一口我一口慢慢啜飲。當然,不少人或許都會笑話我們小氣或吝嗇,但事實是,這麼做除了省錢,垃圾就是垃圾,吃少一點只會有益無害 — 而且很多人都不知道,”糖” 跟毒品一樣,會讓人上癮,而碳酸飲料會妨礙鈣質的吸收,也有醫學研究顯示,不當的飲食習慣與憂鬱症等所謂文明病其實有相當程度的關聯,所以保持安全距離是必要的 — 另一個好處就是,養成節制的習慣,這個習慣就像身上的肌肉一樣,多鍛鍊就能強健,如果缺乏運動,就會變得無力。祥是獨生女,但是向來都很慷慨分享,而且絕少生病。

昨天在聯合國 World Food Program 網站上讀到,世界頭號健康殺手是饑餓(營養不良),而非很多人所以為的愛滋病。全球饑餓總人數是美國、加拿大以及歐盟各國的人口總和;也就是說,全世界有七分之一的人處於飢餓狀態中 — 將近十億人口!這之中,約 60% 是女性,並且有五分之一是五歲以下的孩童。

見到這樣駭人的數據,我們能不感恩嗎?或許,我們可以試著開始慢慢減少在垃圾食物方面的花費,除了讓自己更健康,省下的錢還可以拿來幫助不如我們幸運的人 – 區區美金廿五分,就能夠提供一名在學饑童一整天所需的營養;美金五十元,就足夠餵飽他一整年。