21 July 2010

Question

I took the Little Lady to her first ballgame today.  It was a blast and she outdid her two year old self and sat/walked around/was tantrum free all the way through the middle of the eighth inning.  Seriously, I know adults that can't do that.  One of the reasons (I think) that she was so well behaved is that I fed her for almost three hours straight.  I pulled out all of those "special treats" that I usually reserve for bribes, long car rides or special occasions.  You know, like fruit snacks, cookies, cotton candy, ice cream cones.  All in one sitting.

So it got me thinking.

When I go out, whether it's a fun night out with my girls, a date with the Mr. or simply treating myself to something nice I tend to feel justified in "splurging" a little bit.  Mostly calorically.  I'll have that piece of dessert.  I'll order the deep fried asparagus (because it's still vegetables!).  Or a latte and a cookie.  Completely unnecessary, but it's a treat, so it's ok, right?

I started thinking that maybe I was approaching this treat business all wrong and I was just setting the LL up for a lifetime of special treats and eating out of boredom.  I know I'm quite good at it, so it's no surprise to me that I'm showing LL the way too.  I get why I do it, it's far easier to let me kid eat that extra pouch of snacks than to try to distract, entertain or simply interact with her in the way she needs at the time.  But, from here on out, I'm going to try to feed less and interact more.  Perhaps I can save her future hips a few pounds and give her another way to address boredom.

So my question to you is:  

Am I  teaching bad habits by filling the LL up with treats?
Or am I simply teaching her that it is ok to treat yourself once in a while?

Discuss.

2 comments:

  1. I think you have to ask yourself first, "Am I treating my child out of anguish to ignore the necessity to distract, to interact, or am I treating my child out of love and generosity?" I think kids are smart enough to read in between our words and look past posturing to see the truth in our eyes and the cream pie resting in those open palms like an offering held in future thighs. I strive to treat my daughter to bike rides along city streets pointing out dried leaves in the summer heat as we debate the value of going faster to escape imaginary bears. Hopefully when she gets older and gets bored she'll remember how delicious fresh air can be.

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  2. The fact that you're concerned at all about this issue speaks volumes about how much of a problem your "treating" probably isn't.

    I don't think you're teaching LN that she needs to eat to feel loved or to fill some sort of void when she's stressed. You nurture her in plenty of other, tangible ways. You hold her and hug her, tickle and talk to her and read and re-read the same books over and over. You take her for long walks and trips to the park and… really, need I go on???

    The truth is, that the association between food and love is absolutely unavoidable. We teach our infants to trust us by feeding them when they are hungry and crying. We do this over and over again, at all hours of the day and night, having had little to no sleep because of aforementioned hunger-crying-feeding. We do this because we love them. Later, when they're a little older, they mimic this behavior by trying to shove slobbery lumps of food into our mouths because they want to make us feel good too. As much as I believe that an already been slobbered on banana is a really, really gross sign of love, it's pretty sweet if you think about it.

    I'd also like to add that most of the treats you share with your family and friends are lovingly made with your own hands. You aren't shoving individual serving bags of Doritos and cans of Sprite into LN's hands and pushing her out the back door. In fact you even let her help you create these delicious treats, meals, etc.

    I'm tempted to go into a longwinded geeky anthropological rant about food and culture and specifically how it reinforces, and sometimes even creates familial bonds, but I've probably already ranted way too much.

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