When Grandma Comes to Spoil the Kids, part 1 of 3

This is edited for length, from “Momof3.” It was a response to one of my recent blog postings and I re-post it here.

I often get long emails like this from readers, asking what to do about the older generation’s visits to our children, filled with junk-food “spoiling.” Parents feel that their hard work to provide good nutrition is being un-done by Grandma.

Today, read her comments. Tomorrow, read my reply:

“I needed a pep talk! The in-laws will be staying for 8 DAYS.

I wish I was making it up when I say my mom in law (when she came after the last baby birth) feeds my kids chocolate chip cookies FOR BREAKFAST. (I came down from nursing baby and sleepless night and the kids had milk and cookies sitting on the table at 7:00 am. Grandma just smiled and said, “I’m spoiling them.”) Maceys giant ice cream cones FOR DINNER!

I asked if she would buy spinach at the store and lemons for a wonderful whole wheat pasta spinach dish. She came home with a chocolate ice cream kong cone at 4:30 pm and Cheetohs.

What adult thinks that is a good dinner for a 2- and 3-year old? Again, she smiled and said, “Grandma is spoiling them, and I’m not that hungry either.” I was not amused. I confronted her about it and she just said, “Grandma spoiled them.”

She also bribes them w/ Smarties to ‘be good’ at the store, I looked over at my son in church and he had a mouthful of Skittles and was munching on ‘fruit by the foot’. Grandma had a list of fast food places w/ takeout every night for dinner and brought it home, then tried to give my babies pop and “diet juice” with artificial sweeteners to wash it down because “diet juice” is “healthy.”

Plus, I guess, my freezer full homemade smoothie bars did not seem to be a good summer treat because grandma decided they needed a huge gigantic bag of popsicles instead. (I had made smoothie bars before going to the hospital and pointed out there were lots in the freezer along with all my other healthy snacks.)

I will get through this. I can do it. The kids WILL thank me someday. I KNOW I am fighting the good fight! I can do this even if my in laws (not to be rude, they are good good people and loving grandparents but they are morbidly obese) will try to sabotage me where I live. In my own home with my babies. I WILL be strong. I will not cave. I quietly will go about my ways and quietly do my thing with my babies and self and hubby and the world will stay right. I will do right by my family. I will do it as kindly as possible, but I will be kind but firm. Any suggestions?

What happens when I’m outnumbered 3 to 1? (Hubby and parents against me? especially when hubby’s mom is making all hubby’s ‘favorites?’) When it’s not just pop culture trying to sway our children…but loved ones too? The kids see the Twizzlers, soda, Captain Crunch, potato chips, Cheetos, big pink Grandma cookies, pimento olive bologna loaf, white bread, big greasy Costco muffins, hot dogs, M&M’s, milk, fake peanut butter, Cream of Chicken soup casseroles. This is what my in-laws buy and make and eat at our house. Of course that is what my kids want instead too.

It doesn’t work to have meals and menus ready and food bought and planned. They SHOP for ALL their favorites when they don’t find them in my cupboards because they won’t eat what I make. (They say it ‘messes with their digestion’ to eat whole grains, legumes, greens, and so much fruit and veggies.)

Even when I plan it all out, “cookie salad” (nothing salad about it) gets whipped up or something like it and stuck on the table. Unfortunately, if it’s in the house (or in Grandma’s purse) it finds its way into my children. It’s such a sporadic encounter because they live out of state that it’s difficult to just go off about how EVERYTHING they buy and eat for the 8 days is just unacceptable to feed my kids.

But, the BIG no-no’s for me Grandma tries to feed to them on a large scale: processed lunch meat, artificial sweeteners, soda, milk and ooooodles of sugar constantly. I don’t want to feel like the bad guy for 8 days, but they really are over the top with their terrible eating habits while staying at my house and feeding my children. More pep talks please! I’m in serious anxiety mode. Family pressure is intense!”

that ubiquitous blue, sugary sports drink

That blue drink. It’s everywhere. I’ve never tried it, but it’s in the photo with my son in the dugout from last week.

One of my kids reported to me not long ago, “My soccer coach says I HAVE to drink Gatorade, because it’s good for us and she doesn’t want us passing out.” I told her, “I’ve never tasted Gatorade in my life, and I’ve run 10 miles at a time, or played tennis for 3 hours and haven’t passed out yet. There was no Gatorade until 20 years ago or less. [Thanks, University of Florida! Not.] What do you think all the distance runners in Africa are doing? All you need is what I already give you–good ol’ water. Mom trumps the coach in this case–I am not buying Gatorade.”

Chemical food dyes, chemical sweeteners, chemical electrolytes, no thanks. Good water and fresh fruits and vegetables, plus some nuts or seeds for good fats, are the best thing to fuel a workout before or after. I also love Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie–what I make every morning–for a perfect electrolyte and fat/carb/protein ratio for athletics, 400 calories. It’s in the Breakfast recipe collection or Ch. 11 of 12 Steps.

Green smoothies for birthdays?

So my 12-y.o. was sitting here with me, excitedly planning her birthday party next month. Making a list of girls to invite, foods she wants provided. We’re doing “Café Rio” type salads, a big platter of pineapple (her favorite thing), and she has asked for . . . green smoothies.

No lie. And this is my most resistant child. (The youngest likes to play “picky,” which I don’t indulge, and the oldest has been condescending about the nutrition I provide, the past year or so since splitting his time between my home and his other home, where the Standard American Diet rules.)

I couldn’t be more shocked. I said, “Wow, really?” And she said, “Yeah, my friends like the green smoothies you make and tell me they don’t know what my problem is.”

More evidence that if you stay the course, they often come around eventually. Sometimes the pressure to cave into pop culture’s tastes can be intense. And I’m not saying you have to take up an extremist position. But I really believe that if you just keep on keepin’ on . . . your kids will thank you eventually. You’ll one day see them doing the right thing by your grandchildren!

baseball, apple pie, and . . . green smoothies?

I was asked recently for photographic evidence of my son Tennyson’s snacks in the dugout that radically differ from traditional standards. It wasn’t easy to capture boys sitting together eating (since they are usually PLAYING), and this isn’t the greatest photo, but here ya go.

I love baseball, but I don’t love blue PowerAde and Red Vines and salted sunflower seeds that you see my son’s teammates eating.

I do love apple pie–the LaraBar kind! (It’s a raw-food snack widely available now, even at Costco.) And green smoothies. Here you see Tennyson, who Coach tells me leads the team in all categories, with both.

No, my high-school junior doesn’t take Mom’s healthy stuff in the dugout any more. That’s okay–I give it to him at home before the game.

ideas from readers, part 3 of 3

This was posted on my blog this week by “mgm” but was deep in an old thread. I like this idea a lot, so I’m re-posting it here. If you are “mgm,” feel free to take credit:

I’ve been doing something at work to make the green smoothies look amazing to people, and I think it might work for kids, too. At work I use an easy to carry around Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender/Processor. Actually, I make all my smoothies with it – at home, too. Costs 30 bucks at Costco and pulverizes veggies well. Since I don’t have kids, and my husband has no interest in GS (sadly), something that small works fine for me.

Anyway, mix all your reds first (red cabbage, radishes, carrots, blueberries are what I use) and pour that in the glass – make enough to fill it half way.

Then do your greens (usually romaine or spinach with a little banana) and pour that in slowly. It makes an awesome two-toned smoothie of beautiful, vibrant colors – the colors aren’t mixed and don’t muddy each other up to an icky brown. And each one comes out different. It reminds me of the old Big Stick frozen popsicles that had side by side colors – fun and pretty to look at.