Friday, September 12, 2008
The Right to Choose
There's power in choice. This week Aidan and Patrick begged me to buy lunch from the "big boy" cafeteria. I packed them milk and some fruit, and they could choose their "entrees."
I suggested pizza or even a hamburger. Maybe add a yogurt?
"What did you get for lunch today?" I asked in the car on the way home.
"A chicken patty, Mom!" Patrick said as if I should be impressed.
"Really, what else?"
"A soft cinnamon sugar pretzel," Patrick said.
"So you ate a soft pretzel with sugar and some chicken?"
"Well, I didn't eat the chicken because it tasted funny, but I ate the roll," he said again as if I should be impressed.
"Aidan, what did you eat?" I asked.
"Why?" I asked.
"It's Trix yogurt and it looked like it had dye in it. I only ate chicken, but I got one of those pretzels. They're really good," he said.
I can't entirely fault them. Lunch lines, hair nets and ladels of unidentifiable meat casseroles are the flashback images of my school lunches. Today's cafeteria is serving up a ton of options - a lot more than the old bloated, sweating hot dogs in silver chargers. Too many fried foods and "all natural" smoothies filled with sugar. It's a processed food party with plenty of granola bars and chips. So, we're sticking with "home" lunches for now.
When I went to back-to-school night, the kindergarten teacher requested that parents write down what kids can choose to help guide them in the lunch-hour rush. She said that without a little guidance, the majority of kindergartners who purchased their lunches ate "bacon and corn" the first week. She also said the kids weren't being pressured to purchase, but there was a subtle up-sell push among the food service staff. Sell more. Eat more.
Meanwhile, Jack's boycotting solids. He's eating pureed and "smooth" food with a flourish. Anything that has consistency is rolled out of his mouth. He chooses the soft stuff. So, I'm still offering yogurts and pureed carrots and spinach with diced carrots and cheese. We keep plugging along.
Did cave mothers have it this complicated? Throw them a little marrow and berries and call it a day.
Nugget o' the Moment: "Mom, you would love soft cinnamon sugar pretzels." - Aidan extolling the virtues of the lunch room loot.