Finn, my six-year old was taking his last trip through the kitchen before bed; it had put him into a contemplative mood.
“Mom, you know, my friend R.? He gets so many treats in his lunch! He is so lucky.”
“Hmmm,” I say, stalling, the words “Type II Diabetes” and “teeth rotting out of his head” rolling around in my mouth like pebbles, but I hold onto them and instead say:
“Well, that’s what R’s parents choose for him. Every family makes different choices.”
Finn stares at me for a moment, searching my face. Then:
“He’s probably going to die quick, right?”
Oh boy. My brain whirs through the range of possible responses:
I’m not a doctor, honey, but I can’t imagine a steady diet of Lunchables is going to win any longevity contests.
Probably not. His parents look pretty hearty to me. Genetics can get you out of a lot, actually.
In the end I go with:
“Who knows, sweetie. We need to worry about our health, not other people’s.”
True though, right? After all, we don’t know if letting our kids raid the Halloween candy three weeks past Halloween is going to doom them to tooth decay and childhood obesity; we only know that balance is key – as is exercise, moderation and common sense.
As I kid, sugar was pretty much non-existent in my house and it made me yearn for the stuff; come my bestie’s birthday sleepover party, I was the kid at the breakfast table commandeering the Captain Crunch and mini-donuts.
“What is this wonderfulness?” I would ask with glee, flakes and powdered sugar flying.
I try to be little more even-handed with my own kids. We have dessert a lot of nights, and sometimes we don’t; you’ve got to eat your healthy food first, and we offer mostly tasty, healthy food options. My kids actually like broccoli. And tomatoes. One likes sushi. One’s crazy for cashews. Of course, they both love chocolate too. But who doesn’t?
One can only hope that the saying is mostly true: if you keep good food around, you (and the kiddos) will eat good food. And also: if you have a good attitude towards the not-so-good for you food, hopefully your kid won’t be the one in the corner bogarting the box of Captain Crunch.