Mom Guilt: Kids and junk food

Want to make a mom feel guilty? Get her to admit to the junk food she allows to pass her precious children’s lips.

When I was a kid, my mother NEVER allowed us to have junky breakfast cereal. Consequently, there was nothing I desired more for breakfast every day than a big bowl of Captain Crunch (with crunchberries, of course), Lucky Charms, or Trix. I begged for the bright, obnoxious packaging to go into our cart with every trip to the grocery store. Never happened. I’m sure my mom was proud of the fact that she sent her kids to school every day with something “wholesome and nourishing” in our tummies.

On the flip side, snack time was a free-for-all in which beautiful, shiny, silver wrappers figured prominently. These wrappers contained Ho-Ho’s and Ding-Dongs, which bear absolutely no resemblance to any kind of naturally-occuring food item. Another interesting treat found in our cabinets was a straw containing a minute amount of artificial chocolate powder and about four tablespoons of sugar – meant to be placed in a glass of milk and stirred for instant “chocolat-y” milk. And then there was the vast array of potato chips we had to choose from. Every new variety eventually made its way into our kitchen. Not to mention boxed caramel corn with interesting names like “Fiddle-Faddle” and “Screaming Yellow Zonkers.”

There was always something disgustingly delicious for us to munch on between meals.

Fast forward to my own parenting years. With our first, I was constantly obsessed with how many ounces of calcium she’d had each day. I plied her with milk, of course, but supplemented with broccoli, cheese, yogurt, and pudding every day, all day. And every day I kept a running total of “calcium ounces consumed” in my head.

Thankfully, I’d either given up or come to my senses by the time child #2 came along. We gave her plenty of healthy choices, but thank goodness my obsessive days were over, at least as far as the calcium-meter went.

Child #3? He was notorious for sneaking into the kitchen and finding whatever snack we most didn’t want him to have. And for hoarding candy (and little piles of empty candy wrappers) in his bedroom. He survived.

I am proud to say that in my adult, parenting years I have never once bought a box of Hostess snack cakes of any sort (or course, that would be impossible now, as Hostess closed up shop a couple of years ago). Potato chips are an occasional treat, as a side when we’re having sandwiches and salad for dinner. For the most part, I offered healthy choices at snack time.

But there were the McDonald’s years. When our darlings were small, the allure of the Happy Meal prize and an indoor playground (especially in our climate, which 2/3 of the year provides us with weather that makes outdoor play absolutely miserable) was too strong for this mom to resist. Thankfully that habit came to a complete halt when our kids hit middle school and were shown the documentary “Super-Size Me.” We haven’t passed under the golden arches for almost ten years now.

In the end, parenting and food is about like any other parenting issue. You do your best, sometimes you turn a blind eye, and for the most part everything turns out just fine.

**In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to report that as an adult I regularly succumb to the lure of Captain Crunch (with crunchberries), Trix, and Lucky Charms. I claim a small victory, however, in the fact that none of my children will even touch these anti-foods.

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Ten thoughts? Hope that’s not too ambitious…

image

Here we go:

1. I don’t exactly enjoy being wide awake at 3:30, but since that seems to be a fairly common fact of my life at this stage, I might as well take advantage of it with a post-writing session. Assuming I can come up with ten coherent thoughts in the middle of the night…

2. Yesterday I had a comment from a new reader on my post from last week about “sewing Susan.” What a joy to discover that someone has that particular weird advertisement in her home, a memento of her grandmother. Thanks for that, Sassy02!

3. The Husband got a funny text from The Boy last night, having received his Easter package. The package contained a “Bit o’ Honey,” (don’t ask me why – The Husband threw it in, though I consider it the rutabaga of candy: bizarre and inedible). The Boy’s comment via text: “Bit o’ Honey is a long-term commitment.” Quite. And there’s no shame in discontinuing that particular commitment.

4. A good friend of Middle Sister is celebrating the Passover in Israel this year (and this week). She’s a great kid. She’s been saving up for this trip for a couple of years, and went to the lengths of graduating early from high school so she could fit this trip in before she begins college in the fall. It’s lovely to think that last year’s declaration of “Next year in Israel!” from last year’s Seder came true for this special young woman.

5. It’s now 4:04 AM and the spring birds have just this moment begun their morning song. Considering our nasty, snowy day yesterday and the continuing cold, I have to admire their optimism.

6. Oh my gosh, we haven’t bought any Peeps yet this year! It’s a disgusting Easter tradition…especially the part where we put them in the microwave and watch them grow like some kind of horror movie special effect.

7. I find it’s really true what they say about screen time right before bed stimulating your brain so that it can’t settle down to sleep. And here I sit at 4:10 looking at my iPad and typing. Note to self: Never go to bed without a good book (hard copy!) on my bedside table.

8. The Husband is now up and wandering through the house. I think his CPAP mask was making a weird noise and woke him. Any moment now he’s going to come to bed and tell me I shouldn’t be on my iPad in the middle of the night if I ever want to get back to sleep.

9. Yup. He said it.

10. I’m now accepting the inevitable and signing off, in order to go downstairs and get a book to read.

Good night!

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Healing through community

jcc logoOverland Park, Kansas is my home.

Today our community is in shock following killings that have made national headlines, and which were almost certainly motivated by hate.

The three murders took place at Jewish facilities in our community: the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement center. Although these two facilities fall under the umbrella of the Jewish community in our area, they are fully a part of the fabric of life in Overland Park.

Our children perform in excellent community theater productions through JCC. Our public school teachers direct these same productions. Our kids participate in sports through JCC leagues. Our brightest young singing talents take part in an annual JCC-sponsored singing competition that provides significant scholarships. My oldest daughter’s best friend worked at Village Shalom all through high school. My son and his girlfriend visit a resident there weekly and sing her favorite “oldies” – the one piece of reality she hangs on to in her twilight years. My two girls have sung and played for the Village Shalom residents.

I don’t imagine there are many citizens of Overland Park whose lives haven’t been touched in one way or another by the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom.

Today we grieve. We hug each other, we share our shock and pain.

From no one have I heard today any words of hate directed toward the perpetrator of these murders. Social media and news outlets are concentrating on pulling together to face the pain.

I often rail against the rampant “affluenza” in our high-income suburban community. Our nickname, “the bubble,” is generally apt. Overland Park residents for the most part live a cushy life, isolating ourselves from the difficulties of reality dealt with every day by those with less money, less education, and fewer opportunities. I sometimes forget that there is so much about this place that is fundamentally good.

But today I am proud of my community. The only way to tip the balance from hate to love is to show love, to live forgiveness, to embrace all.

Dona nobis pacem.

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Perspectives on reality: First grader edition

Yesterday while doing my weekly volunteer gig at a local elementary school, I witnessed a masterpiece in the denial of reality perpetrated by a first grade boy. It went like this:

Boy, addressing a small group in the hallway, led by a teacher:
“It’s not our day to have Tier 3.” (the name for his math practice session)

Teacher:
“Yes, today is Friday. We have Tier 3 on Fridays.”

Boy:
“No, it’s not the day for Tier 3.”

Teacher:
“Friday is always the day for Tier 3.”

Boy:
“But it’s the wrong time. We’re not having Tier 3 right now.”

Teacher:
Do you see me sitting here with the book? Do you see your friends around the table? We are having Tier 3 right now and you need to sit down and join us.”

Boy:
“No, it’s not the right time and it’s not the right day.”

Teacher:
“We are having Tier 3 now, and you will sit down and get to work.”

Boy, thinking carefully about his last-ditch response:
“I don’t LIKE Tier 3.”
No dice. He sat down and got to work.

Why did I find this scene so funny? Because I’ve tried the exact same tactic on a grown-up level. Don’t like the realities of a situation? Pretend they don’t exist!

I don’t think it works much better for me than it did yesterday for my first grade friend.

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ABC’s of Parenting…”J” for Juggling

Though most parents do not resemble this adorable duckling, they will be familiar with the prospet of trying to juggle WITHOUT EVEN HAVING ANY HANDS!

Though most parents do not resemble this adorable duckling, they will be familiar with the prospet of trying to juggle WITHOUT EVEN HAVING ANY HANDS!

No parent since the beginning of time has ever been allowed the luxury of doing (or even thinking about) one thing at a time.

The very nature of being a mom or dad is that something extra is constantly being placed into your hands, something that you absolutely MUST keep up in the air, or everything will come crashing down around you.

Featured in the juggling act:

*Tidy house/clean clothes/edible food v. babies who need feeding/toddlers who need to read the same book for the 12th time in an hour/a partner you would like to remain in touch with before you’re both relying on walkers.

*Working outside the home v. family. Feels about like trying to juggle twenty hand grenades at the same time, all with the pins pulled out and ready to blow.

*Desperately-needed time alone v. siblings who must be supervised at every moment lest a bloodbath result.

*Exhaustion-inspired meals of hot dogs, Gatorade, and Oreos v. our sincere commitment to pumping our loved ones’ systems with calcium, fiber, and anti-oxidants.

*Time with friends and family (or anyone who represents a connection with the outside world) v. the constant tug of tiny hands that legitimately need to be held.

Living in the spotlights of all three rings of the parenting circus requires the juggling skills of an expert. Here’s a little secret that might help: Dropping a ball or two might make the audience gasp with shock for a brief moment, but before you know it they’ll be laughing again, in awe of your talents. Just pick up the dropped balls and act like nothing happened. The show will go on.

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A really quite lovely day.

Nothing special, really, happened in my little world today. Just a lot of little “nothings” that added up to joy.

•The day started with a staff meeting with my co-workers, whom I like and respect, outdoors at a cafe, in gorgeous spring weather. Lots of mutual support, dreaming, planning, and big thoughts.

•Several big projects taking steps toward completion at work. Exciting, fulfilling stuff.

•A truffle from my all time-favorite fudge shop, from a gift box delivered to our office today. Heaven!

•A last-minute SOS from my friend/coworker/pastor and his wife, needing child care for their two-year-old while they went for their hospital tour in preparation for baby number two, due to arrive next week. An hour and a half with one of my favorite little people ever. She actually had a fever and had been vomiting all afternoon, but she was a bright ray of sunshine in my day. Oh, and did you know she has a boo-boo on her knee? I’m sure she’ll be happy to show it to you.

*A happy and excited announcement from The Husband the minute I walked in the door, to the effect that he loves his new career and couldn’t be happier. I knew this already, of course, but what a nice thing to be greeted with.

*A brief but lovely phone call from a dear friend I haven’t seen enough of lately.

•A re-viewing of the first episode of this season of “Call the Midwife.” Honestly, I think this may be the best TV series I’ve ever watched. THE FEELS!!!!

*A phone call from our darling Oldest, who has been working her tail off in grad school and chose to give herself a break tonight. I loved her story about what she’s been doing to fruit flies lately (it involves mutating them so that legs grow out of their heads). Even better was the one about the day she didn’t read her email that said professors were going to start making a point to eat lunch with grad students. She ended up “accidentally” having lunch with the head of the Carnegie Institute – which is apparently something any sane person would avoid if at all possible.

•Looking forward to a trip to beautiful, windy Wichita, Kansas tomorrow. Actually, this too is something any sane person should strive to avoid. But I’ll fall on my sword for this one, because it means seeing our son in his university production of “Die Fledermaus.” It’s been a year since we’ve seen him in silk tights and a powdered wig on stage (last year was Molier’s “The Miser”) – really looking forward to it!

And now to bed, with more little “nothings” sure to present themselves all weekend. Happy dreams, everyone!

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The interwebs crack me up.

imageAdmittedly, I’m easily amused. Especially by the absurd. And since the interwebs are a notorious gathering place of the absurd, I find a lot to laugh about daily. For example:

•”Nomorerack.” People I’m friends with on FB are all the time “liking” things from this page. I swear it took me a week of seeing this in my feed to figure out that it’s meant to be pronounced “No More Rack.” I still can’t stop my brain from reading it “Nomo-Rerack.” And that’s just ridiculous. Whoever is behind this entity either has a great sense of humor or is really not on the ball.

•That thing on FB where you wish someone a happy birthday, which I actually really enjoy, even though it’s so repetitive and un-original. The part that’s funny (and obnoxious at the same time) is where it gives you the opportunity to buy a gift to send to that person. Our Oldest’s boyfriend has Celiac disease. When I wished him a happy birthday, FB suggested I send him some cookies. Now that’s funny.

•Blog posts that begin with some variation of “Sorry I haven’t posted for so long.” Honestly, unless you have a truly enormous following, there’s no need to apologize because no one really cares that much.

•FB posts that read like tweets. There is a really good reason why I don’t do Twitter. I totally don’t care about every little movement other people make all day long. If you feel the need to post that your children are crawling around under the table in the dining room today (which, after all is a very mundane kid activity), I feel the need to hide all your posts. And I will chuckle  to myself with evil glee while I’m clicking “hide posts.”

•Those emails that go to my junk box that are such obvious phishing attempts or money-making scams. I’ve read all the articles about why those bad folks do what they do the way they do it, and it still cracks me up. The pidgin English, the wild promises, the sob stories, the one-liners that look like they’re from someone I know but just have the words “Awesome link!” hoping I’ll click on it. I always imagine some freaky little guy in a dark cubby somewhere, sitting up all night long to compose that crap in the hopes of catching someone. Of course it’s sad that some people are lured into this stuff. But still, it makes me laugh.

And so, to sign off:

I’m sorry I haven’t posted for so long, but I’ve been flying back and forth to care for my decomposing father, the prince of Nigeria. Check out this amazing link for for more information. I have to go to the bathroom now, and I’m sure you wanted to know that. And by the way, happy birthday! You will soon receive a gift from me that will make you tremendously ill.

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