I have to work hard to suppress my sanctimommy urges. Generally, I do a decent job. I’m guilty of letting D2 watch back to back episodes of “Chuggington” so I can get a few extra household chores done; when he fights taking a nap I’ll let him stay up with the rationale that he’ll go to bed earlier (usually wishful thinking). And when he doesn’t feel like wearing clothes he’s free to run around the house naked (D2 calls this his “run naked” time). I try to be a chill mom.
I can’t lie though. There is one area where I’m slowly losing the sanctimommy battle: D2′s diet. I am more than a little bit obsessed with making sure he doesn’t live completely off of chicken nuggets and french fries (or “chick uggets and fwies” as D2 calls them). It started with breastfeeding. I exclusively breastfed D2 for six months (no cereal bottles for my baby!) and breastfed for 13 months. I made all of his baby food (cheaper and of course healthier). I was such the smug mommy thinking that I was keeping my little one’s digestive system pure and free of nasty hormones and chemicals. My goal was to shape D2′s palate so that he would appreciate all kinds of foods, be it Thai curry or pasta primavera. He would be my toddler gourmand. The only sweets D2 knew were grapes, apples and other fruits. And juice? Forget it. Empty, junky calories guaranteed to turn my darling boy into a tubby tubster. As far as I was concerned a full-on meth addiction couldn’t be far behind if I gave D2 juice. No question about it. Juice = drugs. Bad, bad, juice.
So most of D2′s two years were blissfully juice-free until that fateful day a couple of months ago. My next door neighbor has two little boys, Bowen and Austin, ages four and six. They adore D2 and D2 adores them. All three boys were playing happily outside when the youngest ran to the refrigerator and gave D2 a JuicyJuice juice box. I must have cocked an eyebrow because Bowen’s mom offered helpfully, ”It’s real juice.” Well, I don’t really give D2 juice but I guess it’s okay this one time, I say.
D2 took that juice box and, no lie, sucked in down in 12 seconds flat. I watched as his eyes got wide. He had taken a bite of the proverbial apple and was forever changed. I could see it. It was as if he was thinking, “Man, mommy’s been holding out on me. This sh*t is good!” I waited. “More! More!” Uh oh. How about a nice glass of water? Milk? ”No! Joose! Joooose!” Crap. This went on for days. Every now and then he would look at me expectantly and ask for a cup of juice. Occasionally, I obliged. I filled his sippy cup with one part juice and thirty parts water. You could barely taste the juice but he was psyched by the pink-tinged water in his cup. I let the reality sink in that my child had become a juice head.
This was confirmed again one night when I took him to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I let him push one of the child-sized shopping carts to hold our items. I was out of V8 and so we headed down the juice aisle. That’s when D2 spotted the motherlode. First he spied a solitary shopping cart with a bottle of apple juice. “Mama, appa joose! appa joose!” he shrieked. He ran to cart and tried to wedge the bottle out of the cart. That’s not our juice, D2. Put that back. “Joose! Jooooose!” I could sense a Def Con 5 tantrum coming on. He spun around and spotted a whole row of juice at eye-level and began loading bottles into his little cart. He grunted as he hefted a bottle in his little arms. “Joose, heaby!” (translation: heavy juice). Other shoppers looked on with amazement. He managed to get three bottles of juice in his little cart before I cut him off. At the check out, we bought all our items except for the bottles of juice. When we got home, D2 eyed me suspiciously, “Joose, mama? Joose?” Sorry. No juice, baby. How about some nice milk? “Okay!” Crisis averted. This time.
I still haven’t totally relaxed my no-juice policy but every now and then, I give it to D2 as a special treat. He’s as happy as a little clam. It makes me wonder, am I being too uptight about not wanting him to drink juice? When we were kids most of us drank juice almost every day and we turned out okay. What do you think? Are parents too controlling about what their kids eat and drink these days?