A week ago, Karma and I were invited to an afternoon play date. Naturally, I figured the standard equation: afternoon + kids = snack, where the snack is a variable that is anything but unknown: it is seldom a healthy one. I often find myself a bit apprehensive of this particular detail in play dates or birthday parties. For some reason, wherever kids congregate, you’ll be sure to find gooey candies, chocolate bars, store-bought cakes, colored cookies, and the inevitable juice (did anyone say it contained fruit???). As if kids could not have fun if those elements were not part of the program.
All parents will tell you that when your kids start going to school, it becomes impossible to control what they’d be eating. I agree. We will never be able to control anything 100% (never were anyway, from the moment they were born…). Kids are bound to be exposed to crap, especially that there’s so much of it, all around. It’s a bit paradoxical though that most of the times, it’s the parents themselves, those who were just telling you that they wish their children ate more healthy food, who buy that crap, to put it in their kids’ mouths – as well as other children’s. I wonder who is pointing a gun at their temples, forcing them to do so, against their will and so-called values…
For my part, I feel compelled to always try to offer Karma wholesome foods and snacks, hoping at least that she’d develop a taste for those, which can be a good start. I know that she WILL be facing junk later, and will certainly be eating some; it’s inevitable. It will not keep me from offering her good edibles whenever I can though. Come to think of it: mothers are the only chance a child has to be eating good (or real) food. Where else would they be able to find quality sustenance?
What’s really tricky is that you don’t want to let food be a barrier between your kid and the world, and the last think you’d wish for him is to become some sort of pariah, isolated in his eating – or worse, in his fears. So one has to play it smart. Go figure how….
Anyway, back to our play date: I decide to make a huge fruit salad and take it along in a big box. It would be great, I thought, if everyone ate some of that and less of something else. This is a case where my aspiration regarding Karma’s healthy eating spills over to other children’s diet. It happens often. I rarely can stand the sight of a child bingeing on oily potato chips or honestly-anything-but-appetizing candy. I truly wish I could do something to hinder such habits. If only I had on hand some of the yummy treats I make at home for Karma…
So, while preparing the salad (the process does take some time), I found myself daydreaming about my daughter’s future years at school. I started picturing her at recess, or during lunch break, in the middle of all the other kids, bringing out her usual “unusual snack her mommy made” from her bag. For most kids, the sight of homemade goods would be either unattractive as it lacks coloring, irregular because it’s shaped by hand, or totally quirky with bizarre ingredients and combinations. Let’s see, what’s in the bag today? hmm, a chicken pâté sandwich in almond rosemary bread, stuffed with greens. And for dessert? coconut balls, carrot cake, or chocolate quinoa pudding? No wait, it’s a trail mix. Oh, and there’s apple chips with cinnamon!!
Then, still daydreaming, I begin imagining the other kids envying Karma, and wanting to have what she’s having. And so I start sending extra snacks for Karma’s little friends at school. And everybody would be waiting for that special treat she’d be bringing. They would start nagging at their parents that they want stuffed dried figs too, perhaps even throw tantrums (hehe… yes, extra drama).
But, let’s face it. This is beyond wishful thinking. It will probably never happen. The opposite scenario is more likely to happen, where she’d be “the one who eats the weird things”. And when I show up at play dates or parties, I will be the loony mom who’s always bringing outrageous stuff. The fruitcake mom. Or in this case the fruit salad mom.
Well, yes. Better a fruitcake mom than a fruitless one.