Thursday, August 6, 2009

Feeding Frenzy

Eating takes on a whole new meaning with kids. I suppose this is true though with any given stage of life. For example: as a kid, you have a distaste for all things healthy preferring instead to eat peanut butter and jelly, cinnamon toast and sugared cereals whenever you can get your grubby little hands on them. I know I used to do my best to trade my tuna sandwich or carrot sticks for things like chocolate pudding, Fritos or Jell-o. Stuff the other kids brought and I was never allowed to have. Perhaps that’s a part of my dietary issues now, but, that’s a whole other Oprah.

Experimenting with food combinations is another step towards culinary development. Like when I ate only peanut butter and pickle sandwiches all through sixth grade. What was I thinking??

For teens, candy, soda and other junk foods have much appeal, though different tastes can begin to develop. Tastes that include burgers, fries, milkshakes, movie theater popcorn and anything parent types don’t eat (at least in front of the kids). College brings an entirely different dimension of eating into play when, rather than asking for money from mom and dad, maxing out the gas card on mini mart delectables becomes a bridge into adulthood. Living on your own can sure make you think twice about spending that extra money on something you don’t even like if the tasty stuff is so much cheaper. Professional life improves habits, when eating salads and not touching the pizza in front of other women prevails so at least the impression that you care about your weight is obvious. Man that ice cream does taste good later on though while watching Letterman.

And then, one day, you find yourself living in suburbia, trying to make healthy eating choices and set a good example for the grubby little hands beating down the door to the pantry and trying to get at the cookies. Is this hypocrisy? Maturity? Irony? All of the above?

I find myself very irked when my kids throw ‘perfectly good food’ off their high chair trays. The floor becomes a giant plate when they are let down from their chairs, fascinated by and suddenly ravenous for what seems like tasty treats. WTH?? Once I gave up and just put their trays on the floor, which only served to egg them on. BIG MISTAKE. Then they started purposely tossing everything, telling me they were “all done” and immediately stuffing their faces once on the floor. You would think I learned that lesson after one of my sons made “raspberries” while eating yogurt. We laughed and took video because it was ‘just so cute!’. Until he started spitting at every meal. Sigh. Why can’t I just giggle and enjoy these moments? Oh, right. I’m supposed to set an example and teach them proper etiquette. I can just see it now – “Your son cannot play at our house anymore. He taught Billy to string spaghetti through his nose. And, he threw vegetables on the floor.”

Each of my kids approaches food differently. One son is very picky and hates to get messy. The other one spits and throws (see above), and my daughter, well, she is just a complete mess. I’m talking total wardrobe change after every meal. Now I just undress her altogether before eating. I don’t so much mind the messy kids, it’s their job. But I’m so darn tired of cleaning up all the wasted, and might I add, healthy food I try to feed them. I’m just about ready to give them each a gas card and point them toward town.

Kinder Gym – Who’s Doing the Learning?

A couple of weeks ago we went to our first out of the house play date. Finally. It was also the first day of kinder gym class with one of the kids. Admittedly, I’m a homebody, and the first year I was super paranoid about my kids getting sick. So we stayed in a lot. That made this week quite the whirlwind. I expected to be busy packing the kids in and out of the car. I expected to have fun being social with other parents. I even expected my kids to be cranky in new settings, though surprisingly, they weren’t.

What I didn’t expect, was that kinder gym class was such a busy place! Kids and parents were crawling all over the place, up and down equipment, making ribbon sticks to wave during song time, and occasionally listening to the teacher. I broke a sweat chasing him around. But did I chase him onto and off of the climbing apparatus? No. All over the mats? No. My kid is obsessed with doors. If there is one open, he must shut it. If it is shut, he must attempt to open it. Rather than climbing on the equipment, he went to every door in the room, pushed, pulled and knocked (in case anyone was going to open it from the other side). Once he was satisfied, he stood in front of each one, waved and said, “Bub-bye”.

My son was easily the youngest one there, and I was a little worried about that. But my normally shy kid who clings to me in his own home, decided he was going to be the circle time entertainment. Bounding out of my lap, he charged into the middle of the circle time, waving, laughing and giggling at the group of thirty plus people. And though he never puts toys or anything in his mouth at home (his sister eats enough books for all of us), he chose that hour to sample the fine taste of purple and brown crayons. Mmm.

It was a rapid paced hour for me, following him all over the room. He wanted to be picked up, but I realized if I kept doing that, he would never learn to play. Once he (finally) began to play, another kid decided mine was the one he HAD to hug. Over and over again. My son didn’t want that so much, preferring instead to wave up at another little boy’s tall, blond, Russian model looking mother. Several times during the hour.

The second week was better in terms of my son playing on the equipment. Until he went head first off the side of the trampoline. My heart skipped beats and jumped into my throat as he suddenly ran across the trampoline and I rushed the two steps needed to get to the short side. But it was too late. Down he went, fortunately landing on the padding and only a little startled. I started to wonder if this was indeed the right class for him when the teacher casually said, “Huh, that is usually so safe. I’ve never seen anyone fall off”. I was shocked that she would not immediately ask if he was ok. I would never turn over responsibility of my child to someone else, but this class is pretty big, and though although there are parents everywhere, the teacher is the only official supervision. I suppose I have much to learn about these classes. But why aren’t there assistants? At one and a half, is my son actually too young?

So let’s recap. I had hoped and expected my kid to like climbing, playing and singing with other kids. Instead, he likes doors, entertaining, and older, tall, blond Russian women. I can only wonder what next week’s class will teach me . . .