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.