I can be controlling
Food, sugar, activities, screens, family time, bedtime. My husband and I are the gatekeepers of these things. As parents we need to be, to some extent. It’s our job, after all, to make sure our kiddos are safe and healthy. But here’s the thing. I’ve gone too far.
Sometimes I feel like my life right now can be pulled right out of an episode of Portlandia or some other spoof show. (My older sister is happy to take shots at me on this topic). I grow a huge organic garden, preserve everything for winter. I have a fish guy, a cherry woman, a peach guy from whom I’ve bought 50 plus pounds of produce or fish from at any given time. When E was little I had her convinced that chia seeds were sprinkles. Our cars run on vegetable oil, and we don’t have a TV. I can keep going, but I’ll lose you and bore all of us. Just know that I can be a bit over the top when I commit to something.
I’ll admit it’s challenging to follow all the guidelines of our house. On a recent visit Emilia’s Nana pulled me aside and told me about a secret E had told her. Full of seriousness, Emilia leaned into her Grandma and said, “Don’t tell anyone….but I LOVE junk food.” Nana was laughing at how cute it seemed. I felt stung. For one, she confided in someone else besides me. OK, that’s bound to happen at some point. Second, she doesn’t think I can relate or understand her love of junk food.
What?! Let’s be clear…in high school I fueled myself with a steady stream of diet Mountain Dew, Hostess doughnuts and other gems from the vending machines. I have a stash of chocolate in every backpack and bag I own. There’s a side of me that, like my daughter, is smitten by sugar, color and impulsiveness. I know and love junk food, but I haven’t been up front about it, and by the way, while I may have a late night road trip hankering for a chocolate-covered Twinkie, I pretty much never succumb to the hankering because it makes me feel bad, and I don’t want to eat that stuff anymore. The realization that I’ve presented myself to my daughter as some ultra pure human who only craves kale and never hears the cries of the chocolate chip cookies to be eaten as I walk by them, hits me profoundly. So what do I do?
I confess. Instead of ratting out her grandma, on a recent road trip, I pull her aside and tell her I have a confession. I whisper, “Sweetie, I have to tell you something you may not know about me.” She looks at me wide-eyed, knowing she’s going to get a humdinger of a secret. I take a deep breath, and I say it: “I love junk food.” I confess: “I don’t think I’ve ever told you, but I love it. Cheetos, potato chips, anything with chocolate, pastries, cookies, fast food and french fries, corn dogs. Heck! I love hot dogs and super cheap pizza too.”
The realization of what I’ve just said hits her. A smile creeps across her face until she’s beaming. She says, “You do?! I didn’t know that!” Then a bit quieter she says, “I do too.” She asks me, “Why didn’t you tell me?” and I explain that while I love junk food, I know it isn’t good for me or our family, so I don’t buy it.
“Today,” I say, “we’re going to buy some. Go inside the convenience store and pick out anything you want to try. I’ll buy it for you.” She shrieks and heads inside to spend 30 minutes deliberating over the candy aisle. She walks out with a package of candy and proceeds to eat the whole package in the car. I, meanwhile, stuff down my urge to limit her to just taste it, and save some for later when I hopefully can intercept it and throw it out.
As we drive off into the sunset, I smirk when she says: “Mom… I have a tummy ache.”