Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sacrifice Play

When my fifteen month old child picks up a purple marker with a gleam in his eye and begins playing a manic game of cap-on, cap-off? And I let him do it, knowing that the pen’s going to end up in his mouth? The very same mouth I went to great lengths to feed pureed-spinach-tinted frosting a few weeks ago rather than allow him to nibble synthetic green (food-safe) coloring? That mouth? Yes, that is a classic example of one of my parenting Sacrifice Plays. I know that I am conceding a small defeat (in this case, Crayola marker ingestion) for a larger goal (toddler empowerment, tantrum avoidance). So it makes me a hypocrite? Small price to pay.

We all play the parenting hands we’ve got. We maximize our kids’ well-being while sacrificing what we have to in order to meet life’s challenges. In our house, we like to say that everyone’s got to take one for the team. Our dog has been getting an extra breakfast or two lately, since the aforementioned toddler is fairly focused on plinking kibble into his bowl and it keeps him entertained while mom gets to, I don't know, blog (wink). The dog’s girth may suffer. But we all have to pull our weight in the family, as it were, to ensure that the whole is healthy.

I thought about weight recently in the grocery store. I’m one of those annoying virtuous people who usually shops at health food stores, co-ops, Whole Paycheck, Trader Joe’s, farmer’s markets, places I know won’t sneak cr*p worse than a "Conforms to ASTM D-4236" marker into my kid’s food. I make a lot of my own food (pancake mix, for starters, although I have to get the sugar out of that recipe). But sometimes, it is convenient (and cheaper?!) to go to a regular grocery store. What snuck into my cart the other day just made me groan.

Let me just say up front that (hypocrisy alert again) our house sees its fair share of candy. It’s not like processed sugar products don’t make their way into our lives. It’s just that when I am trying to grab whole wheat mini bagels for my teething toddler, it irks me that there would be high fructose corn syrup in the top five ingredients. Thank you very little, Thomas' Company. "The perfect wholesome snack for kids and people on the go"? Mmmm, that HFCS wholesome goodness.

When I am going for a whole wheat product, I really don’t expect to be making a Sacrifice Play. If I’m giving my kid a Ring Pop? I probably expect to have some artificial color tradeoffs. Giving my kid a (perfectly frozen) Ding Dong? I think I can sense there might be some troubling preservatives there. But whole wheat bagels? Come on, folks, that’s no place to sneak in a Sacrifice Play.

What are the Sacrifice Plays you face as a parent? Do any of the choices you’re forced to make seem unfair?

*Original DC Metro Moms post. Photo courtesy of SXC.


Cathy said...

Well, my daughter is 38, so I'm not in charge of her food or her toys anymore. But I will say that when I was the mom, I was fortunate to have MY mother helping me. And let me tell you, she was a force to be reckoned with. We're talking home-made yogurt, blender drinks with brewer's yeast, argh and yuk. She was so wonderful with my baby. I don't remember very many sacrifice plays in that house. But we had probably a LOT more time to devote to childcare than you have. My mom didn't work and I had a job from 9PM - 2AM, so I was with her most of the time.
Remember, do what you can and don't sweat the rest. The fact that you even THINK about it is way beyond most people.

Tech Savvy Mama said...

Ugh, the corn syrup is in everything!!! My MIL is very allergic to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (ok, and everything else on the planet) but knowing that it is a way of sneaking sugar into food, makes me avoid it at all costs. I've banned products with HFCS from our home along with those containing transfats. I'm happy to join you in being one of those annoying people!

MamaBird said...

Cathy - Your mom sounds amazing! That's good stuff, the homemade yogurt *and* the 2 generation parenting force.

Tech Savvy Mama - Sorry about your poor MIL's allergies but hell, yeah to your household bans...

Melissa said...

I had to make a lot of Sacrifice Plays when I was nursing my daughter, I allowed my son to get away with a lot during those times. Lately I have found myself buying my son little things in the store just to avoid fits, it is something I am trying to reign in, but it takes a lot of willpower.
The meme you tagged me for is up on my blog now.

Professor J said...

Oh man, you make me sad talking about Thomas' whole wheat bagels! I've got to pay closer attention!

kate5kiwis said...

i am totally with you on the pure, organic, wholefoods kick.
and am ever-so-secretly glad that there's someone else in the world who's a hypocrite, er, paradox too.
the *bad* guy at our place is NUTELLA.
*boo hiss*
i know.
my friend clare asks her kiddos to count the pieces of fruit they've had (hopefully = 5) before they're allowed to choose nutella.
i'm thinking could be a good idea X

MamaBird said...

kiwi kate! love the counting till 5 fruits idea. simple one. and I so heart nutella. leave it to the french to invent such a delightful bread spread. kicks ass on peanut butter...