Monday, December 22, 2008

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal...

unless you are my daughter(s). In which case, unless it’s made by McDonalds or IHOP (which are very special treats that happen once in a blue moon) you refuse to eat breakfast of any kind, even non-breakfast foods.

But, then at 10 am you suddenly realize you are STARVING, throw an enormous tantrum because you have no energy left and then scarf down half a cupboard of snacks.

And then, if you are ME, you go into the bathroom and bang your head against the wall because if I don’t’ I’m going to scream “JUST EAT SOMETHING ALREADY!” and scar the children for life by going all ape-shit 'n all. Maddening. Absolutely, maddening.

Oh, I’ve tried it all. Typical breakfast foods like: cereal, toast, waffles ,yogurt, smoothies, granola/cereal bars… POPTARTS for pete’s sake. I bought Poptarts and tried to get my kids to eat them (which was fundamentally wrong in my mind, but I was desperate). We’ve tried non-breakfast foods like mac&cheese, tortillas, hotdog, cheese/crackers, pizzas and leftovers. I’ve tried bribes and rewards (I know, I suck). I’ve tried not mentioning breakfast at all and/or saying “If you’re hungry, you can get yourself something”. But that feels a bit negligent to me considering how young the girls are.

Some days I resort to almost begging them to drink even a small glass of milk – with CHOCOLATE or STRAWBERRY syrup in it, just to give them some fat/calories. Some days, like today, I sneak in some Carnation Instant Breakfast and mix in extra chocolate syrup. But most days it doesn’t work.

I've tried making breakfast part of the routine of what we do, at about the same time, every day. Get up, dress, eat, brush teeth/hair, get ready for school (shoes on etc). No tv until all of that is done and ready to go. I can't get them into the breakfast groove. I was hoping to train their brains/stomachs into thinking "now we need to EAT". I've tried giving them choices and just saying "THIS is what is for breakfast". Again, all to no avail. Or at least, not to any consistent resolution.

The other day Mouse ate 1, yes, 1 mini-wheat, and had 4 tiny sips of milk - the equivalent of about 3 tablespoons. Baboo had ½ a class of milk (probably like a ¼ of a cup) and 3 mini-wheats.

Yes , I know they have small stomachs and I don’t expect them to sit down and eat a mountain of food (though some days they eat so much it makes me sick to watch them) – but don't they need to eat more than that???

Until this year, I didn’t really care that my girls weren’t breakfast eaters. We could go with the flow and they could eat when they needed to. I know some people really CAN’T eat breakfast and I try to respect that.

However, this year, Mouse started preschool 3 mornings a week and snack isn’t until 11 am. She starts to get clingy and homesick at about 10:00 on the mornings when she won’t eat anything and I know it’s because she’s hungry.

I know that many children/diet experts tell us let them “eat when we’re hungry” – the whole “grazing” theory, but you know, sometimes our lives are not set up to allow us to do that. I understand where Mouse is coming from when she says she “can’t” eat and yet, at the same time; I understand that her teacher can’t just allow the kids to eat whenever they want. It would be so disruptive to the whole class.

My girls are tiny, Mouse is 4.5, has JUST reached 30 lbs, and wears a size 3T. She is the smallest in her class by a lot. She’s barely at the 5 %ile on the “charts”. New doctors panic when I take her in for checkups. People often tell me how well she can talk because they assume that she is 2 or 3. Most are stunned and embarrassed when she indignantly announces that she is 4 and BIG – thankyouverymuch.

Baboo is also tiny. She’s 20 months old, but is about the size of a 12m old (I’m saying that because we’re around a few babies that just turned 1 and they are the same size). She’s below the growth charts. She’s just over 20 lbs. People are often surprised by my very mobile, talkative infant. Ahahah. Oy.

Both girls were of average weight when they were born – within 2 onz of each other actually. They grew very well until 9 months then dropped off the charts. I know that a slow down at that point is typical for breastfed babies, but when Mouse didn’t really grow or gain weight for 8 months nearly pushed our previous, very calm natured pediatrician over the edge.

Hubster and I are not big people, so it’s unlikely that our girls will be big. We’ve already been warned that puberty will likely be delayed for both girls. (Not that I’m against that!). Any time we change pediatricians, the new doctors panic that our girls are so small and tell us to push MILK, PROTEIN, heck, even give them ICE CREAM.

They have no problem eating sweets. They would happily eat ice cream and chocolate and gummy bears all day if I was willing to do so, but that’s not realistic.

And really, most days breakfast is the biggest battle of the day, they do seem to eat some lunch and dinner pretty willingly. And I offer regular snacks as well. As much as I can I try to do meals around the times that I know they will eat, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

So, where am I going with this post, other than just ranting out of frustration? I AM ranting, but I’m also looking for balance; thinking out loud and trying to find a solution.

I’m trying very hard not to make this an issue because I know that if Mouse senses that I’m trying to pressure her to eat, she’ll dig her heels in harder just because she can. And Baboo, sees what Mouse does and copies it. I can’t MAKE them eat, as much as I want them to and as much as they really need to. When either of them get to the point of the 10 am hunger meltdown, I make a point of saying “your body is telling you that you are hungry and maybe next time we’ll try to have something to eat BEFORE you get to this point”. I’m trying to encourage healthy living by making healthy food choices, having all things in moderation and hopefully guiding them to follow their own hunger cutes by eating when hungry and stopping when full. We talk about this; how important it is for our bodies and I try to set an example by living this way as much as I can.

But it’s hard, so hard, when we have to get out the door in the morning because, well, we can’t hang around in our pjs until 10 am and then have a leisurely breakfast. Or when I really don’t have it in me to go the 9 rounds when it comes to the hunger tantrums. It’s hard to know what the balance is: how much to push vs they live and learn (natural consquences)?

I hope that it “clicks” soon for Mouse, in particular, that she needs to have at least a little something on her stomach to help her get through her mornings. Next year she starts school every day and the thought of this battle every morning is enough to make me cry.

1 comment:

becprints said...

I wish I had suggestions! Special plates? To go cups? Diamond encrusted untensils? Hypnosis?I know you've tried it all. Wishing you morning calories.