Driven to Distraction by the Snack Action

616730_goldfish_crackerYesterday Nanook, Crackerjack and I headed downtown with our poor neglected, understimulated third born girls to MacPhail Center for Music for a Mom Culture event featuring Adam Levy. Adam Levy plays in a few bands around here, our favorite being Hookers and Blow. We had heard that he started a kid music band and thought it might be entertaining to see this guy do his thing for the kiddos. We’ve enjoyed some silly, dance-a-licious Hookers and Blow adventures and are trying to make up for the serious paucity of story times, music classes, and gymboree type shit that has been the fate of our thirds, so there we were.

Before he came on, there was a music class led by a hefty lady with a guitar. Seriously, is this an archetype for music teachers? The girls were not interested in her operatic crooning of Wheels on the Bus and within minutes I found myself outside of the auditorium digging through my purse for one of the three bags of Cheez Its I had brought with me. As I sat in a corner, I watched some well-scrubbed mommies packing up their elaborate snacks into little glass and stainless steel containers. As my daughter licked cheese dust off her fingers, the well-scrubbed mommies offered their toddlers another bit of edamame, a little more red pepper, just one more cube of tofu. Good God, I thought to myself peevishly. There was a time when I would have felt a tinge of inferiority at such a display of peripatetic culinary organization and motivation, but I have completely retrained my thinking and in a masterful feat of mind judo, I turn the tables and manage to feel superior. While they were chopping tofu into perfect little cubes, I had time to peruse all the dresses from the Golden Globes on line. Who’s the sucker? And then Nanook comes out in her sexy brown thigh high boots and tosses a package of fruit snacks on the table for her daughter and I realize that this right here is one of the reasons why we’re friends. (The fruit snacks, not the boots. Well, maybe the boots too.) Maybe the well-scrubbed mommies will become as lazy as we are someday. Maybe not. The point is, after all the switcheroonies took place, we shared a chuckle about the lovely cheese and fruit snack we had conjured out of our bags and went back to enjoy the show.

But I’m not always this blasé about snacks. In fact, I’m about to lose my shit over this whole snack business because Devil Baby is a relentless snacker. As someone who tends to eat in more of the boa constrictor mode – gigantic meals that leave you so stuffed you can’t even think about food until all of the sudden you are starving and ready for the next gigantic meal – I abhore being asked for food every twenty minutes. It just doesn’t seem to be a healthy habit to be thinking about food, much less eating food, with such frequency. I understand little kids need snacks, so I’ve gotten sucked in to the whole thing – especially since my particular little kid will NOT take “no” for an answer. I dole out snacks for peace. If I cut up an apple, she’ll stop asking for food, at least for a few minutes. If I say no, I will find her hooking up her carabiners and scaling the pantry shelves to help herself to some Oreos. So I give her a snack because at least that way, I get to pick what it is and I don’t find myself prying something unhealthy out of her death grip, or more often, just letting her have it.

Every night she sits with us at dinner, not touching a thing on her plate, and Doctor Dash listens patiently while I bitch: Uh, it’s obscene! She doesn’t eat a bit of protein! She eats crap and carbs all day long, she’s a dough girl, this is horrible! She’s not touching her food! Look how she’s not touching her food. It’s terrible! This has GOT to stop. I can’t stand it. She doesn’t eat a speck of meat! What the hell is wrong with her? Here, Devil Baby, one bite, here it’s dipped in mayonnaise, one bite. Arrrgh. Sweet mother of God I’m so sick of this! etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. This morning Doctor Dash sent me this article from the New York Times before he went to work and I devoured it with my coffee, muttering like a mad woman Yes, yes, yes!

The point of the article is that snacks are ubiquitious these days and heavens knows, no one is in danger of starving. At first when Saint James started playing soccer, I didn’t really care about the snack. It was our only activity and a rice krispy treat or a Kudos once a week seemed like no big deal. In fact, the first time some parents banned the snacks and juice I thought they were total buzz kills. This is childhood! Where’s the sugar? Where’s the sweetness for our perfect little angels? Well, people, I’ve come around. And then some. Those parents probably had older kids and had had their fill of watching their kids’ bulging-eyed fish faces as they frantically sucked down Capri Suns after every single game and every single of their siblings’ games. Obviously the kids are thirsty after a game, so those juice boxes are drained in an instant. That’s kind of gross. What’s wrong with the water bottle we dutifully schlep every time?

So I realize I’m veering around like a drunken old lady with my flower hat all akilter. On the one hand I scoff at the mommies with the super healthy snacks in pcb-free bento boxes. On the other hand, I would be happy if snacks and juice were banned from all sporting events from here on in. I just think we don’t need to be EATING all the time. It’s about DELAYED GRATIFICATION. The reason I bring snacks around now to a much greater degree than I did with Saint James and Supergirl is because, unlike my other kids, Devil Baby will kick my ass all over the soccer field if I don’t have something for her to graze on while the others play. I didn’t used to be this way. I’m not a Boy Scout by nature. I don’t like to plan ahead. That’s why I nursed my kids – zero prep, zero planning, just a little exhibitionism – that much I can handle. If we really find ourselves starving out in the world, we can always drive somewhere and get a bite, right? If I had packed snacks for the park every single time, how many ravenous hair raising drives to Galoonies for steak and cheese subs would we have missed out on? Practically all of them! And now that Galoonies is gone, I’m so glad we weren’t sitting in the sand eating carrot sticks all those times.

Today I was visiting a potential pre-school for Devil Baby for next year and the tour guide was describing snack time; she said they provide Club Crackers, Ritz Crackers, gold fish and the like and one of the other mothers raised her hand and asked: Are the snacks just crackers or do you include vegetables and protein? I couldn’t help myself. I had to turn around and take a look. And guess what!!! Sister didn’t look so svelte. Maybe she’s a music teacher. Or maybe someone should tell her that if her snack features all the basic food groups, it’s not a snack – IT’S A MEAL!!! 

Maybe that’s why my on-the-go snacks are so half-assed. I don’t really want to admit that I’m planning ahead – I want to pretend we are unfettered by and independent of the tyranny of food. If we happen to squeak by a morning without digging into the celophane, so much the better, no big deal, no harm – no foul, I can save it for the next time. But you better believe if I had boiled edamame or cubed tofu, I’d be busting that out before the first stomach rumble.

Food for thought.

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5 Responses to “Driven to Distraction by the Snack Action”

  • Dolly Says:

    Mama – you are not alone. Soul Daddy had forwarded me that very NYTimes article just a few days ago. We both abhor the constant request for a snack by our children and are challenged daily from 3:15 until dinner time with a whiny, “I’m hungry…” It annoys me to no end that with every soccer season comes a sign-up sheet to bring a snack. I am guilted into penciling my name in and then am usually running around at my lunch hour the day of the game, actually taking into consideration that I hope the team likes the snack I bring. God forbid Mimi’s mom brings ‘lil pretzels – again. As the coach, I might have to start a coup against the snack sign up sheet. Oh lordy, I can see my wide eyed seven year old ducking for cover now. Pick your battles right?

    That being said, I love a good snack. I love a good meal, but the nibble leading up to a meal can be just as juicy, especially when pared with a tasty beverage when possible. Working in an office, I must say, the tummy rumbles like clockwork at 10:00 a.m. and I must have some yogurt. After a sensible lunch, it’s calling me again at 3:00, and I’m perusing the employee lounge to see if perhaps a vendor brought something in.

    The problem is that children don’t have an internal register that says, “Hey, I want to have room for that shrimp risotto later, so I’ll stop myself now.” We have to swoop in and limit it, and at 5:30 when everyone is whining (myself included)the defenses are down. I’m pouring myself a glass of wine and thinking, “What’s one more cheese stick gonna hurt?”

  • tartare Says:

    From experience, I must say the perfect protein snack is salami. No prep, no fuss, no maintenance. It can sit in the bottom of the purse for days without damage. The only change is the fat liquifies a bit, just enough to moisturize the little snacker’s lips, chin, cheeks and hands.

  • Mamartiste Says:

    I, too, am disgusted by the junk that kids around me are consuming. Nicolette (my 9-year-old daughter) is on a swim team that has a meet every Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m. It is a common sight to see these little swimmers cramming their mouths with hotdogs and nachos drenched in cheese whiz by 9:30. Some of them are the swimmers who have just finished their 1 or 2 lap race and their parents feel they’ve earned it, or burned off enough calories (I guess). Others are the siblings who get dragged along for a few hours and their parents are trying to make the whole swim meet experience more tolerable, or easing their guilt at making the sibling sit and watch endless swimming instead of doing what they want to be doing on a Saturday morning. Either way, it’s sad to see these young kids with jiggly butts and huge bellies. Aren’t sports supposed to promote good attitudes about bodies – strength and stamina and muscle? There is a huge disconnect.

    I find myself feeling very anal when I tell my daughter’s friend that no, I’d rather that my daughter didn’t eat a chocolate donut right before bedtime, even if it’s being offered in the spirit of friendship. I’m the bad guy. It is often easier to pick your battles and suck it up and let them have it, but I hate being put in that position. Oreos are junk, and sure they taste great ,but they’re a treat and if you have them everyday, then they’re no longer treats but just a bad diet.

    I just read the NY Times article and it’s right on. Bring your own snacks if you need them and stop turning every activity into a junk food fest where to be the responsible parent who doesn’t feel like a heel you compromise your principals and let your kid eat just 2 cookies instead of the 10 that his friend is having. Ugh!

    (Hi Peevish Mama and family)!

  • peevish mama Says:

    Well, well, well! I think I touched a nerve!

    Mamartiste, yes, that cheeeeze that comes with swimming nachos – oh, what is it? I think it’s made of plastic. I loves me some cheese, but honestly, that stuff makes me gag.

    Tartare, I would expect nothing less from the mother of Lil’ Salami and I totally agree with you – I owe most of my youthful glow to the magical properties of pig fat.

    Dolly, shrimp risotto???? I want some!

  • lady tabouli Says:

    Hmmm… the image of your friend throwing out the fruit snacks at the mom culture event made me laugh out loud. I have been to one of those events and felt your same superiority feeling by coming without snacks or a damn extra nappy- had to borrow one from someone’s prada diaper bag.

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