Monday, October 01, 2007

Jamming in the Years, Part I: Preschool Jam

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca - Days spent nurturing young minds have taught Brandy many important lessons. The biggest is that nobody parties as hard as little kids. Even without frothy golden draught, sweet leaf, and acrid white powder to intensify their spirits, preschool shorties will still out-rage any party of adult pub-crawlers, wringing absurd joys from bizarre fantasy games, unspectacular playground equipment, and countless instances of clowny circumstance that cannot materialize for those of us with fully developed nervous systems.

In addition, Brandy has learned that little kids eat with the best of them*. At the high-end San Francisco preschool where Brandy earns his scratch, the tiny Jammers-in-training grub at least 6 times a day. When they arrive, usually between 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning, they often eat a small breakfast, this in itself often preceded by another breakfast. Indeed, many children do half a breakfast at home, and the rest later, once they stumble through the classroom door, sobbing, clinging to an exasperated parent's leg, round mewling faces the mottled crimson of overripe peppers. Common choices are handfuls of Cheerios, bananas, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandos, and mini-bagels. They will munch again close to 10:00 when the class sits down for a civilized snack. Typical menu possibilities include cheese/crackers, bananas, orange pieces, raisins, and Cheerios. They drink milk, juice, or water at this juncture. After another hour or so of saying really weird shit at inappropriate times, running around like banshees both indoors and outdoors, and recklessly jumping off of anything they're capable of climbing onto (all to the soundtrack of the wretched children's music Brandy changes whenever they'll let him), the wee snappers will be faded and stoked to fill their pie-holes once again. Lunch goes off a bit before 12:00. The children bring their own Jams in gigantic futuristic lunchboxesque contraptions. These being the progeny of at least minorly moneyed San Francisco, they tend to dial in some fairly plum Jams at this point in time. One kid might roll furiously on a thermos of gnocchi/pesto, some kiwi pieces, sliced ham, and a sweet plastic tube of gaudy Yoplait. Another might get down with a cream-cheese-and-cucumber micro-sando, organic string cheese, mixed berries, and a roll or two of leftover takeout sushi. In any event, this is their most epic Jam of the day to which Brandy has the pleasure of bearing witness. A few of the little ones are fussy eaters with weak appetites. For example, there's this two year-old boy who only eats alphabet-shaped crackers. Every day, his mother pours 600 calories of protein powder into his sippy cups of milk so he won't waste away entirely. Thankfully, most tuck into their goodies with a positively feral gusto. By the conclusion of lunch, the junior Jammers have made huge staggering messes of themselves and the tables, chairs, and floor. Creamed corn encircles a miniature mouth like a slimy gold goatee. Grape jelly spills in spidery patterns across a pristine white shirt. After lunch, a blessedly lengthy nap-time ensues. After nap, a few more installments of crackers, yogurt, Cheerios, and so on. They Jam all day. And when their parents come through to take them home, they're already screaming for dinner.

Watching these young'uns eat, Brandy is reminded of his own adolescent Jamming habits, the staggering volume of foodstuffs he'd put away each day in order to avoid collapsing from fatigue. That is another story altogether, one that will serve as center-piece for the second part of the Jamming Through the Years series but, for now, it's obvious striking parallels exist -- namely the fact that rapidly growing young people, whether they be tots, tykes, or teens, must crush ungodly amounts of food to sustain physical and mental development. American children between the ages of two and four weigh on average between 30 and 40 pounds. After weighing the lunches and snacks of three non-obese children for a week (and then subtracting from that average daily weight the collective weight of food left uneaten), Brandy further estimates a typical preschooler consumes more than half the amount of food in a day that an active blue-state-based male adult of reasonably meager proportions might take down. Brandy -- a hearty Jammer but svelte at 6 feet tall and 155 pounds -- of course, weighed his own meals for a week to provide a generous basis for comparison. The verdict: When it comes to quantity, pound for pound, the little Jammers have us smoked like a strip of jerky. Quantity, however, is obviously not the only criteria experts like us use in defining Jammer excellence. The quality of a Jammer's choices come into play as well. While the youngsters might pillage ice cream and other "treats" on the weekends with the approval of permissive parents, Brandy, an adult and true gastro-guerrilla, answers to no authority, spends his own damn money, and reestablishes supremacy with aggressive burrito feasts, heaping ranch-drenched Serrano's slices, and gallons of Pabst. Little kids can't even really stomach high levels of spice or grease, two towering pillars of most Jams worth their salt. Brandy's experiences facilitating their bathroom habits support this assertion. Children may enjoy their food but they consume large amounts more out of necessity born of instinct than sheer gluttony. Can a Jam go down any other way? It's a fair question to ask. The JamZone Jammers, on the other hand, are not growing, at least not in the same way. They Jam with similar dedication but purely for the sake of the Jam, digging into choice slop just because it's there and they can -- and fight subsequent indigestion and gut expansion with bike rides, gym hoops, and morning runs -- so as to stay proud, be healthy, and keep the Jam alive for yet another day. I look forward to further vigorous discussion of these and other subjects in future segments. Stay tuned for Part II.

* Please note that the author of this post is very aware of our world hunger tragedy. For the purposes of this article, "children" are American and privileged enough to have parents capable of providing them with all the wholesome organic Jammables they might desire. There's nothing funny about starving kiddos so they have no place on JamZone.


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