I’m thinking about starting a sister blog entitled The Bad Mommy Chronicles. Why? Because every week I tend to commit some kind of parenting malfeasance. If such a blog did exist this week it would be gettting updated hourly because I have had a bonanza of parenting malfunctions.
Let us begin with my child’s vegetarianism. You’ll recall that she’s five. And now an avowed vegetarian. If it weren’t for her obsession with cheese she’d be a vegan and probably 20 pounds, so vive le fromage mes amis. The difficulty level of her vegetarianism is this: she says she hates meat, but eats chicken nuggets. She says she hates beef, but eats Hebrew National hot dogs. She says she prefers soy, but barely nibbles the soy dogs and soy nuggets. All of which means, IMHO, that she likes the idea of being vegetarian but not the actual practice.
In any case, this week we made dumplings. Some of which contained beef hot dog cut up into tiny dumpling-filling size. She LOVED it, eating about three of them in swift succession. When she asked what it was, we kind of hedged. She ate more. So now the dilemma presents itself: do we tell her it is beef, or lie and tell her it is soy? My money is on lying, which is what I did. I didn’t necessarily say it was soy, but I didn’t go out of my way to yell, “Proudly presenting beef in your dumpling!” I made a jokey reference to it on facebook and got a few offline and online smackdowns for lying to my child, and breaching her trust vis a vis her ethical sensibilities. I felt bad about it, but then got the absolution from my old rabbi (the greater good is that she grows healthy and strong) as well as my mother (“A 5 year-old does not dictate what is for dinner. Who is in charge over there?!”)
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to obfuscate when it comes to the meat in her food. And you know what? I’m okay with that. When she weighs more than a 2 year-old and is making her own food, she can eat or not eat whatever she wants. While I still have to make sure she consumes some kind of protein at every meal rather than constant mac and cheese and carbohydrates, I’m serving her protein-filled stuff she’ll eat. Even—and especially—if it’s meat.
When she’s older I will treat it much like people treat the issue of Santa. Yes we sort of lied to you, but it was in the interest of you experiencing the magical joy of giving and peace on earth. In this case, it is in the interest of her experiencing the magical joy of, you know, growing taller and maintaining brain development. Have a holly jolly hot dog, darling!
Next up, I made my child cry tears of bitter disappointment, and all because I wanted to chit chat with the mommies. She told me in no uncertain terms that when I picked her up at camp yesterday I was to stay in the car, because only little kids’ moms get out of the car and go get them. Big kids just come out of camp and jump in the car all by themselves. I was so thrilled that she was excited to do big kid stuff. When I got there at pickup time, I saw her friend’s mom behind me in her car, so I jumped out to kibbitz.
Unfortunately, the kids were let out a few minutes early and she came running out to the car, all wide-eyed and smiling and drunk with Big Girl power—until she saw me standing outside the car. All of a sudden her eyes filled with tears, her lips started quivering, and she said quietly, “Mama, you promised you’d stay in the car.” I said, “Oops! I’ll jump in right now!” But the magic was gone. The tears came, the sadness, the agony of having her Big Girl Moment stolen from her by mean old chatty cathy mama. I gave her all my explanations and promises to really do it next time, but she was inconsolable at the loss of something she had obviously been thinking about and planning and looking forward to all day. If that afternoon had a headline it would have been, “MOTHER RUINS BIG GIRL’S DEBUTANTE MOMENT.” I really did feel bad because I could see how much it had meant to her.
She finally recovered from the disappointment when I promised that we’d do a Big Girl Dropoff the next morning wherein she would get out of the car all by herself and I would stay in it no matter what. However, the Bad Mommy struck again. I may have mentioned that Bambina likes Vitamin Water. I grabbed a couple of bottles on sale and gave her some at dinner. That night said she had a stomachache and was having trouble getting to sleep. I had to go sit with her until she finally settled down around 9:30pm. Today at lunch I grabbed the bottle to pour myself some, when I noticed that the water was yellower than our usual orange kind, and the small writing on the bottle read, “citrus + guarana.” GUARANA??! Oh my god, I caffeinated my kid at dinner! With some questionable herbal concoction! No wonder she felt unpleasant and sleepless, which I now felt, but for entirely different reasons. I called the BBDD to confess, as if he was the parental licensing board. He was so solicitous that it made me feel worse.
In any case, I’m 0 for 3 for 24 hours. Stay tuned, because the day ain’t over yet.