Tom’s Diner

I turned on the heat and smeared some olive oil on the pan, added a patty of chicken sausage, cooked a scrambled egg, added cheese and gave it all to Sawyer. Ten seconds passed.

‘I done.’ He tilted the plate toward me so I could see how barren it now was. ‘I have cereal?’

I poured some Apple Cinnamon Cheerios into a bowl, added milk, served it. Five seconds passed. ‘I have more?’

‘Let’s wait and see how you feel after a little while, okay?’

‘I have more.’ It was no longer a question and he was now pointing at the bowl for emphasis. I used a parenting strategy that we’ve found to be highly effective at avoiding strife: The Caving Technique. I added a little more cereal, a little more milk.

Quinn, meanwhile, was already finished his second bowl. That was after he’d had a pre-breakfast of apple sauce and Goldfish crackers.

How the hell do they eat this much?

I’m not really worried that they overeat, because I know they get a decent amount of exercise and that their metabolisms are turbo-charged. But since adult obesity — a risk factor for basically every major disease — starts as a kid, it’s got to be something on the radar screen. This is a helpful little post, from a reputable source, Children’s National in D.C., on discerning between hunger of the mouth, stomach and heart.

But I’m sure that on some days — maybe even most — between the gummy snacks, cookies, ice cream and chocolate, we push past this ‘added sugars’ threshold.

Before our first baby, I had these grand visions of every ingredient being certified organic, fruit always for dessert rather than ice cream, and never eating French fries — preferably not even knowing what a French fry was. Haha — cute, right?

My plan ignored: Commercials, diabolical grocery-story displays, the ability to see what other kids eat, and — most obvious — our own cravings and laziness as adults.

As with a lot of my parenting, I comfort myself with the assurance that since I’m at least aware of a potential parenting pitfall, I must be doing at least a decent job of avoid that pitfall. Cop-out? Yeah, sorta. But the result is, usually, olive oil instead of butter, one piece of chocolate instead of two. Some days, oatmeal for breakfast rather than Fruit Loops. And, often, organic chicken nuggets for dinner instead of a hot dog.

And that’s how Tom’s Diner slogs on, one decent-but-not-great eating choice at a time.

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