My Son Failed the Chicken Wing Test

I gave him a good life, but I also give him a hard time. It’s a balance.

Chris L. Robinson
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readJan 23, 2020

--

Photo: AHPhotoswpg/Getty Images

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

TThere’s been a meme floating around for a month or two that shows a row of five numbered chicken wings, each one a little more stripped of meat than the last. Number one has a single small bite taken out of it; number five looks like it’s been dug up by a paleontologist. The punchline is that you can tell a lot about someone’s upbringing based on the amount of meat left on the bone.

My 11-year-old son and I both love wings, but we are on opposite ends of this chart. On the cleaned chicken bone scale, I’m about a five — every scrap of flesh gone, along with a good bit of cartilage. Meanwhile, he’s a solid two — a couple good bites, then he’s reaching for the next piece.

I’m always after him about how much good food he’s throwing away. I learned growing up that you had to clean the bone thoroughly. When it comes to eating wings, the boy is just downright wasteful, and it worries me.

While I want my son to have the advantages I didn’t grow up with, I also want him to have gratitude for what he has and empathy for those who don’t.

I grew up the oldest of six kids raised by a single mother. There was enough money that we never went hungry, though one summer we did subsist solely on Malt-O-Meal and hot dogs. But in a house with so many mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, we were short on luxuries and long on hardships. Bill collectors calling, midnight moves, disconnection notices on the dining room table, missed school events—it was the kind of childhood that I vowed my child would never experience.

Today, my son is the only child in a two-income household, and his mother and I have worked hard to ensure that he doesn’t want for…

--

--

Chris L. Robinson
LEVEL

Top Writer in Parenting, and Food. I write about masculinity, fatherhood, family, and relationships.