My life is full of "I would nevers."
Especially when it comes to parenthood.
All those things that I said I would NEVER do… until I did.
The truth is, I never thought I would be THAT mom. You know, the one who feeds her kids "healthy" food. THAT one. The one whose sole purpose is to make her kids the "weird ones" while simultaneously making other moms feel bad about what they feed their kids. Yep. That's me.
I did not intend this. Many times, I don't WANT this. But each time I try to fall off this particular wagon, I am thrown back on. With a vengeance.
If you've been following along on Facebook, you know that last week, my kids requested Lunchables.
The way my daughter asked, it was very clear that she knew I would say, "No." Because she knows, as well as anyone, that I AM "that mom."
I understand my journey, our journey. I know why my impulse is to say, "No." I have my reasons. I understand them, and have (mostly), made my peace with them.
I could explain to my kids why I don't think it's a good idea. But, I am a teacher, and I sometimes have to remind myself that telling isn't always the best way to teach.
And though, in some cases, learning from experience simply isn't possible, desirable, or even safe; in this case, it was both doable, and safe (though some would argue... ) so I decided to give in.
I devised a plan. The kids could pick any two Lunchables they wanted. They would finally get to try what everyone else had. I would also be making my own, "homemade,"Lunchables in an attempt to match or "beat" the strore-bought variety.
My kids both picked one nacho lunch and one pizza lunch. These were the two options offered at Aldi. I asked if they wanted to go to another store with more options, but they said that these were the only two that other kids ever brought to school. And, unlike their mother who can't make any decision easily and must always consider all options, they are very decisive kiddos.
Interestingly, although they picked the same two lunches, my daughter (who is also older) chose two name-brand Lunchables, while my son chose the Aldi store-brand imitations.
Day One: Store-bought Nacho Lunchable, plus apples.
Daughter's response: It was good. Didn't like the cheese sauce; it was gross. (She also said that the apples were rotten and she didn't eat them.)
Son's response: GOOD.
Day Two: Homemade Nacho Lunchable
Daughter's response (when asked which lunch she liked better): About the same.
Son's response (when asked the same question): Lunchable (Reason: the cheese sauce)
Night of Day Two… My daughter had an allergic reaction. I'm still not sure about the cause. Her behavior was similar to that which occurs when she has red dye or soy. From a young age, we called it "soy rage." Her ears were also on fire and bright red. In addition to the fact that the way she was acting was completely unreasonable and out of character, this was the indication that the behavior was allergy related. Once I realized this, I stopped trying to deal with the behavior and instead gave her an antihistamine. She, almost immediately, fell asleep.
At this point, I considered abandoning the experiment. I didn't know what was causing the reaction, and it even occurred on one of the days when I made a homemade lunch. However, it may have been a cumulative effect from the red dye (in the drink… which I honestly hadn't thought about) the sugar, the soy that is often in processed foods, and possibly even the corn.
Day Three: Store-bought Pizza Lunchable
Daughter's response: Asked me, all on her own, to remove the drink before giving it to her. Didn't like the lunch. She particularly disliked the sauce and said that it made her stomach ache so badly that she had to go to the nurse.
Son's response: Loved it.
For my son- Homemade Pizza Lunchable
For my daughter, at her request- a "regular" lunch
|This almost looks like "green-themed," lunch, but it was completely by accident!|
Daughter's response: Loved her "regular," lunch and has no further desire to have a Lunchable.
Son (MJ)'s response:
Mom How was your lunch?
Mom Which did you like better, the Lunchable or today's lunch?
MJ I didn't like the mushrooms on the pizza.
Mom (Seeing empty lunch box) But, you ate the mushrooms, just not on the pizza?
Mom Without the mushrooms, which one did you like better?
MJ Today's lunch.
MJ I liked the olives instead of the cheese, and the sauce was much better.
1) Not every child reacts to food the same way.
2) Food reactions can have a cumulative effect.
3) It is a lot easier to "make lunch" with a Lunchable.
4) My daughter realized that she likes my "regular," lunches better than Lunchables.
5) My son likes just about everything he eats, good for him or not, and that's no surprise.
6) I'm ok with the fact that my kids don't hate "junk food."
When I first shared the information about letting my kids try Lunchables, one of my friends commented that they would hate them. When (at least initially) they didn't, I felt, a bit, like I had failed.
My kids are supposed to only like fresh, natural, homemade, good for them foods. Right?
My kids, like most kids, like many adults, like me enjoy a lot of different foods and that includes foods that aren't, necessarily, the best for us. That's natural. That's real.
As long as they like the "good," along with the, "bad," I'm cool with that. Especially since even my own definition of good and bad changes all the time! I will still make choices about what to feed them, which, most of the time, will be healthy. But it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm doing something wrong if they still like or even prefer unhealthy food.
7) Be careful when you say, "I would never…"
I read this post last night and had to fight the urge not to feel insulted.
Now, first of all, this is just plain silly because I do not have the talent or skill to make 99% of what she shared, so even if someone should be insulted, it clearly should not be me.
Secondly, I wrote a post a few months ago about my own falling out with fun lunches (Of course, once I got that off my chest, I started -occasionally- upping my lunch game- go figure!)
Most importantly, I need to tame the "I'm offended," reflex a bit, and try to take things in the manner they are intended. Her post, like the lunches it pokes fun at, was meant to be "fun."
And yet, it can be so easy to look at these lunches and say, "I would never…" or as she puts it, "Ain't nobody got time for that." But there are people do who have the desire, and therefore make the time, for THAT.
When you pack "regular," lunches, it can feel like those who make art for lunch are just trying to make the rest of us look bad.
I would venture to say, that most of the people who made the lunches, enjoyed what they did. It's how they express themselves, it's how they connect with their kids, it's how they relax. There was a time when I enjoyed making "fun lunches." I'm not very crafty, but I like food, and for me, it was a fun way to express myself creatively.
All of this to say: I worried, a bit, about sharing our Lunchables Experiment. I worry about each post I write. I want to encourage people. I want them to know that if they have the desire, they can change their kids eating habits. I want them to know that there is a way to teach your kids to be good eaters.
That is my intent. My intent, is NOT to make anyone else feel bad about the choices they make.
Do I think that Lunchables are a healthy lunch? Nope.
Do I think that kids would be better off eating something else for lunch. Yes.
Do I think that you are a bad parent if your kids eat Lunchables every day. Nope. Really.
Could my own kids have been better off without the McDonald's we had for lunch yesterday? Yep. But we had it anyways, and I didn't feel guilty. Could there come a time when I outlaw fast-food forever….
Who knows. I've learned to never say never.
Questions to Ponder:
What is something that you now find yourself doing that you said you would never do?
What was the last time you had to talk yourself down from being offended?
Have your kids tried Lunchables? Do they like them?
What do your kids eat for lunch?
Are fun lunches on your "I would never…" list?
If your kids pack lunches, who makes them you or them?
In case you're wondering, those great lunchboxes are Easy Lunchboxes. You can buy them here. I also use these lunch bags to keep them upright. (affiliate links)