Kids and Food

How children eat and/or should be fed is a hot button issue for me because of the many challenging experiences I have had feeding my own children. Econ-Mom’s recent Facebook post was triggering for me, so now I have to write about it. And if you missed it, here was the post:

I guess the internet already responded pretty well to this tweet, but here are my favorite responses:

Ketchup was definitely a food group for SC2. Hysterical. Favorite moments: SC2 dipping chocolate Easter eggs in ketchup and drinking ketchup out of a straw.

Truth.

SC2 was also like this. She was my “good eater” as a baby and then turned into the ketchup-eater later in life. Now, she loves to cook, but she still won’t eat half her creations. Fascinating.

Yes, parenting for me has come with a very heavy dose of humility. I was definitely in the “I will never” parenting camp. Before I had kids, I never ate at McDonalds. I had watched the movies and read the books about how horrible all that food is for you, etc….I was educated, people. I KNEW!

Then, I had SC1. By the time she was one year old, we knew she was allergic to eggs, sesame, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish. (So, don’t give me any of that stuff about making sure you give your kids food early enough.) Thereafter, we found out she was allergic to sunflower and green peas. (She had an anaphylatic reaction to homemade split pea soup when she was 15 months old.)

When she was 4 months old, I started out by making all her organic, pureed baby food. She wouldn’t eat it. Guess what she would eat? The jarred GMO crap.

You really cannot force a child to eat food (and if you do, you’re going to be in for some serious therapy down the road). But empty bellies lead to long sleepless nights. And I can promise you that after you’ve already been through the long sleepless nights of infancy, once they are eating solid food you will do anything – ANYTHING – to get five hours of chopped up sleep. Especially if you are now breastfeeding another infant.

So, sure, you can never order off the kids menu and force them to eat whatever you put on their plate. But you may not sleep. (As I child, I ate everything, and I remember ordering chicken kiev at restaurants when I was like five or six. If you get a kid like me: 1)You are lucky. 2) You had nothing to with it. 3) Do not give yourself credit for being an amazing parent.)

When SC1 was a toddler/preschooler, she had a harder-than-usual time separating, and my mom was a preschool teacher about 30 minutes from our house. Because I knew that SC1 would be happy near her grandmother, we opted to attend that preschool in her early years rather than one closer to our house. I’m not saying this was a mistake, but in retrospect I think I might have done things differently. Here’s why:

A thirty minute drive doesn’t sound like a very long car ride to an adult. But to an inarticulate 2/3-year old who is prone to fits, it is. Driving to and from preschool two or three days a week became its own special form of torture. And, since school also would end right around lunch time, and SC2 would fall asleep in the car during that time, guess what I resorted to?

That’s right! Drive-through McDonald’s! Wooohoooo!! McDonald’s proved to be safe for all of SC1’s allergies. So, between the allergy factor, and the baby-sleeping-in-the-car factor, McDonald’s became our go-to lunch on those days driving to and from preschool.

I wasn’t proud of it. In fact, it made me cringe. I often told people that if there were other *safe* drive-throughs, I would have by all means chosen those over McDonald’s. But find me a safe drive-through restaurant when your kid is allergic to sesame, sunflower, and green pea!

Last story: When SC1 was about 4 or 5, she was attending gymnastics. After gymnastics was over, she very loudly said to me so everyone in the vicinity could hear: “Mom, can we go to McDonald’s?” My face flushed, while another mom and her daughter looked at each other like: “What poor, pitiful souls, eating that unhealthy, fattening, barely edible food.” And then the other mother said to her daughter, in a knowing, superior voice: “That’s right, honey. WE don’t eat at McDonald’s.”

I’m probably explaining all this to you now because I so badly wanted to explain to that woman why my kid was familiar with McDonald’s and wanted to go there. However, I think it also highlights a very important point and aspect of parenting: It’s unpredictability. Sometimes that unpredictability takes you to places–physically, mentally, and emotionally–that you’ve never been to before. And that might include ordering off the kids menu or taking your kids to McDonald’s. (The horror!)

Econ-Mom: Sorry for bringing up all those emotions with that post–honestly it is a bit triggering for me, too. Of course, I’m not dealing with allergies, but we ended up at McDonald’s sometimes in Seattle just because it’s a place (nay, THE ONLY PLACE) we could eat without me having to cook and without any expectation that my children sit quietly and draw. TONS of people in Seattle don’t go to McDonald’s….Obviously, they’re health conscious and there are many vegetarians/vegans, so I get it. Just don’t judge those of us who do go! And yes, Law-Mom, I’m 100% with you that if they made a healthy/vegetarian/etc. option that had a drive-through and/or play place, I would be there ALL THE TIME. Why isn’t someone doing this?!??! I legit sometimes consider quitting my job and starting a gofundme (or kickstarter?) to make this happen.

Law-Mom: Word. Why don’t we do this? Why doesn’t anyone??? It just seems like such an obviously needed market.

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