At the grocer’s today a mom-and-daughter duo caught my attention.
So i committed what i admit are my biggest vices: eavesdropping and judging.
The ~8 year old was gnawing her way into the mom’s focus. “Mommy, mommy I saw Jiejie eating this one with Mary, but I never eat it because I thought you will scold!” she jabbed her finger at the shelf stacked with overpriced, organic oatoridkwhat bars ’80 calories per!’ it proudly declared, ‘Gluten-free!’.
It was a blatant, classic case of tattletale-ing. She knew Mary wasn’t supposed to be touching those. She also knew Jiejie wasn’t supposed to let Mary touch those. Most of all, she knew Mommy would be pissed and Mary + Jiejie were in deep, deep shit.
GOD i felt like sinking my fist into her smug little face. I have approximately ZERO tolerance for antagonistic younger siblings. Partly because i’ve been spoilt by my own: who at age 9 voluntarily washed my school shoes every week, and covered up for me when i unwittingly tipped over the milk carton in the fridge. My sister’s either really nice (which she is), or subservient from by my abusive ways (partly).
The mom – petite, with a chic pageboy haircut and clipped accent complete with indoor shades – drawled for the older daughter to come over for an interrogation about Mary and her supposed forbidden forage into the mom’s pretentious health bars. It was painful to listen so i zoned out a little.
That was just a preparatory back story to establish how fundamentally aggravating the mom/kid was. The younger one, presumably pleased at having successfully earned brownie points with her mom, asked for breakfast cereals.
“Ugh… breakfast cereals?!” the mom’s contempt was palpable “But they are so unhealthy!”
B R E A K F A S T C E R E A L.
U N H E A L T H Y
Ok understandably they’re not as nutritious as they are marketed to be, but ngh i hate it when parents impose strict regimented ideas about health and food on children. The only times i’d deprive my child of m&m’s will be if (a) they’re deathly allergic to it or (b) i want them for myself.
It’s important, of course, to moderate the amount of junk your child ingests. My dad had to came up with the Chips in a Bowl system during my chip addiction stint (so instead of straight from the bag i had to portion them out), but i could still have them whenever i wanted.
I’m not advocating extreme unhealthy diets – my grandma who insists fried chicken is okay with a sore throat is probably not the most commendable nutritionist around. But that is my grandma’s (slightly delusional) way of loving us: to make sure we are well-fed even if it’s logically incongruent.
I suppose that was Grocer Mom’s way of loving her kids as well. Her beliefs on what is healthy are naturally imposed on her children, whether right or wrong, because she thinks those are what will be best for her kids. At the same time…
I’ve heard moms express surprise when their kids, young enough for kindergarten, complain about their poochy kid tummies or refuse food because it would ‘make them fat’. And i’m not even talking about scenes from Toddler & Tiara. “I have no idea where they get such thoughts from!” the moms would say.
Well i have an idea or two.
Because the very same moms would be the ones wrinkling their nose at anything that uses oil besides the olive variety or gossiping about a colleague with flabbier arms after a particularly indulgent vacation.
Children learn not merely through explicit teaching. In the same way they pick up words and phrases from our conversations, they pick up ideas and beliefs from the way we react to the world. And while we as adults may be old enough to distinguish between appropriate concern and outright obsession, kids don’t. They may take the dramatic dinner time lament of carbs doing damage to your thighs as factual and significant.
I don’t know about everyone else, but kids should not need to worry about cholesterol levels before the age of 16. Just let them eat whatever the hell they want as long as they’re aren’t chugging down twinkies by the cartons, and aren’t obese, and are happy and running around. Give them the right to determine their priorities without the horror stories of saturated fat haunting their childhood.
Everything in moderation, and don’t be the one to corrupt your child with the neurosis society has shaped us to internalize. Because society will do that in due time anyway, the least we can do is to keep their childhood untainted.