So…what did your kid have for supper?
Mine had ketchup.
Yeah…you heard me, ketchup.
Hey, I tried okay. I put a whole smorgasbord on his tray: roast chicken, potatoes, carrots, a smoothie, grapes and pears. He squished a few carrots, stared at the pears, and threw the grapes on the floor. So, I decided to bust out the ketchup and teach him the ancient art of dipping. First, I dipped a potato in some ketchup. As I ate it, I put on an elaborate show sure to put Barbra Streisand to shame. I moaned and groaned and declared, “MMM, YUMMY!”
The Beast observed my every move. Then, he slowly dipped one finger in the ketchup. Without taking his eyes off me, he carefully licked the ketchup off his finger. His eyes grew huge like he’d just discovered something really amazing…like fossils or something. He continued to smash his whole hand in the ketchup and lick it off. When the blob of ketchup ran out, he pointed and grunted, demanding a fresh blob on his tray. I complied, knowing all the while I was just loading him up with sugar. I convinced myself it was okay though, because I was sure he would eventually dip some actual food into the blob instead of just his hand.
He was having ketchup for supper and that was that.
I gave up. And you know why?
I’m too fat, hot and pregnant to have a food fight with my toddler right now.
These days, we’re not just dodging food fights with our kids though. It seems we’re up against much fiercer opponents—each other. That’s right. I keep hearing stories over and over again about parents waging war and judgment on other parents for what they choose to feed their kids. From breast milk to formula, and jarred baby food to homemade puree. We’re constantly under the lens of our fellow cohorts.
I read an article recently about a man who allegedly humiliated a woman in public for letting her kids eat pretzels at the mall. He apparently sat his kids on a bench and played on his phone while his wife shopped at Hollister. When one of his kids asked for a pretzel, he apparently said he’d never feed his kids food like that even if they were starving to death because that kind of food would kill them. He apparently said it loud enough so that the woman who was letting her kids eat pretzels, and all others within earshot could hear.
Ugh, Pretzel Hater, give me a break.
Pretzel Mom, you’re a kinder woman than me. I would have launched into a sleep deprived diatribe about how his kid only begged for a pretzel because he was sick of his kale chips and water. I would have grabbed Pretzel Hater’s iPhone out of his self-important hand and went, “Beep, boop, boop, boop!” in my best robot voice while pressing all the buttons in hopes of ruining his game of Candy Crush. Then I would have asked him how he felt about the fact that children no bigger than his own made his hot wife’s new shirt she just bought at Hollister. Finally, I would’ve taken a big bite of my doughy pretzel and wiped my buttery fingers on his shirt ensuring I got to touch his svelte abs in the process.
Actually…I probably wouldn’t have said nor done any of that…but a hormonal pregnant woman can dream, can’t she?
Seriously though, the real reason I wouldn’t say or do any of that is because what good would it do? Then I’d be just as bad as Pretzel Hater. A microscope lens is meant to narrow our focus in order to take a good look at things. But when examining a tired parent’s choices, instead of zooming in to judge, maybe we need to zoom out, broaden our scope and open our hearts. You know? Give our fellow parent community the benefit of the doubt.
Pretzel Mom defends herself (which isn’t even frigging necessary…it’s just a frigging pretzel) by saying she feeds her kids 80% clean food. They eat all the green things and pretzels are just a treat they have once in a while. She worked the night before and woke up with a raging headache. She went to the mall to break up the day a bit, but one kid was sulking and the other one was crying. She had to buy a shirt for work, so she decided to press the reset button and got pretzels to settle her kids…in essence, to shut them up. There. Pretzel Mom widened the lens for us to see a slightly larger scope on her life.
So, Pretzel Hater, since I insist we widen the lens for Pretzel Mom, I will now do the same for you. Perhaps you hate pretzels because they make your stomach hurt. Maybe you used to be obese and you worked really hard to change your eating habits. Perhaps your kids REALLY DO like kale chips and water. Maybe a family member is sick or died from eating a diet of processed food and living a sedentary life. Maybe you weren’t directing your judgemental comments towards Pretzel Mom at all. Maybe you were just trying to reaffirm your family’s values to your kids in a really loud voice.
There, so can you, me and Pretzel Mom just be friends? We’re all too tired and busy to bother having the food fight with our kids, so let’s stop the food fight with each other too, shall we?
Good. Great. Hey, what do you say you and Pretzel Mom come on over to my place for supper in order to fortify our friendship? We can make it a potluck just in case you find my menu unsavoury. Hey, and if you’re friendly, I might just let you dip your kale chips in my ketchup.