Yesterday, I took my 6 year-old daughter to Starbucks to get her a treat for being brave at the ear doctor. If you’ve never seen the implements used to clean out an ear – trust me – a reward from Starbucks is proportional to the discomfort caused by the long pokey tools.
I try to let my children make decisions for themselves, where appropriate, and Starbucks is one of those places where a child can choose what to have. None of it is healthy (some a little better than others). So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when my daughter announced that she would forgo the doughnut she wanted for something smaller since she’d recently had a doughnut and knows that doughnut’s are “sometimes” foods.
Could it be that all our dinnertime discussions about food have seeped in and reemerging in thoughtful choices? Or are we making our children neurotic about food? It’s really hard to know.
When I was a kid, we didn’t discuss food. It appeared on the table, we ate it and that was it. I made no connections between where my food came from and what I ate. I supposed we ate somewhat seasonally but that was more due to availability rather than conscious decision making.
Now, my kids know a lot about food. My older daughter has visited the farm where our CSA comes from and helps to pack up the food on pick-up days. She knows the difference, generally, between a “sometimes” food and an “anytime” food (thanks for the terminology Cookie Monster). We recently sat down together to make a list of healthy snacks we can bring during the coming school year and she know that I am making lots of peaches and plums now for her her baby sister so that she can eat them through the winter when such fruits are out of season. She thinks drinking soda will make you hairy. In my defense, she came up with that one on her own and I did not correct her.
And still, I worry that we are putting too much emphasis on these issues. But, today, I will take my small victory for what it is.
If you’re interested in reading more on this issue, Frank Bruni recently wrote a wonderful piece in the New York Times. You can find it here.
Photo courtesy of tomdouglas.com