Monday, October 26, 2009

You can't have ice cream for lunch!

so sayeth Queen Teen. Nor can you have chocolate, fruit loops, caramel corn or sweet tarts. In fact, you shouldn't have these things ever, but now and then is okay, but just for a snack, and not very much.

My daughter really absorbed the "eat healthy" message her schools and I have taught her. I blame Blues Clues and that "Healthy snacks" song. I know I'm lucky. My daughter has never whined for candy while waiting in line at the supermarket, and even when I offer her a sweet, she'll only eat half. When given a plate full of cookies and then told, "help yourself," Queen Teen will eat one, maybe two, then set the plate down and walk away. "You can have the rest."

She eats her vegetables

Since she is under weight by about twenty pounds, she is allowed to eat anything she wants. Of course it helps that her favorite snacks are fish crackers, cheese and bananas. I beg her to have a milkshake, but she'll rarely take it. She just isn't that interested in sweets.

One night while she and I were coloring together, Queen Teen set down her crayon and said, "Can I tell you something?

"Of course." I set down my own crayon and gave her my full attention.

She sighed then leaned forward, staring at me so intensely I wondered if she was going to tell me she had a boyfriend. "When you're not here, Rick gives me too much chocolate."

"I see." I looked down to hide the smile that was sabotaging my serious expression.

"It's a big problem." She sighed again very dramatically, then picked up her crayon and started to color again.

In Queen Teen's world, everything is broken down into compartments. There is good and bad, black and white, yes and no, healthy food and not-healthy food. There are foods you eat for breakfast, foods you eat for lunch, and foods you eat for dinner. This is how she makes sense of the world. Because of her poor hearing and eyesight, it's hard enough for her to figure out the tangible world, let alone all those exceptions to everything. There is no gray area and ice cream is not lunch. This is her own adaptation and I try to respect it. For a while I tried to teach her about life's exceptions and prepare her for the variables and gray areas that are invariably a part of life, but it created too much confusion for her, so I stopped. Instead I go along with her rules about the way things are. Eventually she'll figure out that life doesn't fit into perfect little categories and sometimes it's perfectly fine to eat ice cream for lunch. And dinner. And even breakfast.

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