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Just Because I Feed Them Junk Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Love Them (Right?)

I love cooking almost as much as I love not cooking.

While it’s my pleasure to prepare most of the family meals at home, the first thing I will spend disposable income on is meals out. There’s nothing like being served and being cleaned-up after. I can’t wait to be a ninety-year-old in diapers. Pure heaven.

funny parent

Family Meals Without the Fruits and Veggies

It’s this level of ‘Where’s the Beef?’ fast-food thinking which perverted a recent ski trip into a guilt trip.

My son began lessons at a local hill this past Sunday morning. We turned it into a family ski day – no small expense, once four lift tickets and the equipment rental for my wife were factored in.

In an effort to put the brakes on our budget’s downhill slide, I hurriedly packed snacks for us all: fishy crackers, rice cakes, half a cheese wheel, a box of crackers, and a Costco-sized container of cashews a friend had given me for my birthday (I’m a bit of a salt nut).

Look, they can go one meal without fruits or veggies, right?

The starvation begins

By 11:30am, everyone was starving.

The hill was packed, so we were forced to share our cafeteria table with another family – another mom, dad, and two children similar in age to our own. Surely they would understand when I upended my back-pack of snacks and other food containing enough preservatives to survive a shuttle voyage. Parents of young kids are busy, and tired, and are rushed getting their kids to a 9am ski lesson. No time to start packing lunches. I mean, it’s not a school day. We get a break, right? Non-perishable, disposable goodies were invented for days such as these.

They began to unbuckle a fairly massive Tupperware container from underneath our shared table. I left them to their work as I went to search for…more food. I mean, budget aside, I had packed a plethora of snacks, but nothing which would constitute a real meal, even my wife recognized that.

family meals

When your counterparts eat healthier than you

By the time I returned to our lunch spot with two trays supporting 5 hot dogs, two poutines, 4 hot chocolates, and a diet Pepsi (in a pear treeeee), our familial counterparts had emptied their meals neatly onto their half of the table…

…Their children began with a chicken salad. Not the mayo-filled, processed stuff I bring home from the deli, but a neat bed of romaine, drizzled just slightly with a light dressing, topped with home-roasted white breast.

When (and only when) they polished off the salad appetizer, the children were each handed a short stack of carrot sticks. Not the baby-cut ones I buy in bulk and scoop unwashed out of their resealable plastic bag, but rather the hand-cut, hand peeled, hand washed variety…probably imported from their Brazilian cousin’s veggie farm he’s bringing to maturity just in time for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Did I mention the side of hummus dip?

My kids weren’t even taking notice, they were too busy pulling poutine cheese strings out of their ski-pant suspenders…

Covered Food Groups

My lunch, and additional $42; theirs, $0. Numbers reminiscent of our respective cholesterol ratios.

Their healthy meal was causing my guilt began to grow as quickly as my heavy lunch was causing my consciousness to fade. Surely their children could not continue through an afternoon on the slopes on this low-cal diet?!

How do they survive?? I was convinced their eldest, who appeared to be no more than 8-years-old, was probably really a nutritionally-stunted 27.

Finally, after all (and I mean all) the carrot sticks had been happily devoured, the health-parents reached into their bag for dessert. I became excited with possible vindication as I recognized the familiar sound of pre-packaged cellophane…yes, it was true…they were about to reveal a processed food!

Nope. All natural, health-food store brand, nuts-and-grains-only granola bars.

I didn’t even know those bars came without marshmallows.

They had all the food groups covered. But so did I: saturated fat, sugar, preservatives and MSG.

I Bet I Love My Kids More!

Yeah? Well I’ll bet, I told myself, I love my kids more than they do.

If that were true, why did I seem to spend my lunch time telling my kids to sit down, to stop playing with their food and eat, while the health-family’s kids seemed quiet and well-mannered, allowing the adults to talk amongst themselves?

I was the poutine parent, they were the carrot parent. All that was left was for me to acknowledge their victory:

“Excuse me.” I said “I have to say I’m really impressed with how well you feed your family, and how receptive they are to such a healthy meal. I’m feeling a little guilty. Just so you know, we were rushed this morning, and I didn’t have time to pack properly. Usually we always insist on a good portion of fruits and veggies with every meal, I’m going to make up for it with a healthy supper, for sure”

Even in victory, he was gallant: “It’s funny you should say that. Our kids were telling us how jealous they were of your family’s meal.”

funny parent

I laughed and he laughed and I looked at his kids and told them what great parents they had and how they were going to grow up to be tall and strong and healthy. Secretly, of course, I was praying for an explicable numbers of cavities to show up under their next molar scan.

We were all collecting our belongings – them replacing their geometric Tupperware back into its larger geometric mother; us throwing our Styrofoam and plastic refuse into the waste basket – when my salvation showed up.

When Treats Trump the Healthy Stuff

“See? Grandma’s here.” My counterpart announced. “It’s not always health food.”

He motioned as their grandma handed over a package of Skittles and a Hershey bar to the kids.

“Oh! I feel so much better.” I chortled.

Little did they know that my kids’ grandparents were coming over for supper that night. The poutine and hot dogs had better hurry up and digest. Hosting grandparents for supper was a special occasion. If they don’t clear their system of lunch soon enough, they won’t have room for the apple pie defrosting on the stove at home.

Should of at least made a carrot cake.

Kenny Bodanis

Kenny Bodanis is the author of MenGetPregnantToo.com.
The site's articles and interviews focus on the trend of shifting gender roles in parental duties and involvement, as well as such topics as bullying, stress, and other challenges facing both children and parents.
His blog was named by Reader`s Digest Canada as one of the top parenting blogs in the country—the only dad on the list. It has also received accolades in the U.S. and the U.K.

Kenny's column, "Questions Parents Ask," appears weekly at
LifeWorks.com. He was part of a trio of bloggers at the site who won the Marcom Platinum Award for their writing.
He is also the regular parenting contributor for Montreal's Breakfast Television.
He lives in Montreal with his wife and two children. This is his first book
Feel free to follow him on:
Facebook | Twitter

63 comments

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  • Hi Kenny,

    I’m the mom who was sharing your table at the ski hill- the one who made chicken salad for lunch. When I was reading your blog, I laughed so hard. Very funny!!

    • Hi Lyn-Anne!

      I was thinking I should have asked you for your email address to send you the link, but I figured I had been chatty enough. I freak strangers out sometimes by talking too much:)
      I’m really glad you read it, and I look forwward to meeting again! (I’m carrying around sacks of broccoli just in case).

  • What a great laugh….food and kids have to be what parents spend the most time fussing over. I totally hear ya on this one. With 11 kids that were always hungry – easy and maybe nutritious was all for me! Now they’re all grown up and they can be 100% nutritious if they want! Ha!

  • What a fun and truthful post! I enjoyed reading it. My kids are all grown now, but as they were growing up we traveled a lot for my husband’s job. Lots of hours in the car. We ate a lot of goldfish, jerky, Pringles and Chex Mix. It all travels easy. Also, lots of fast food for meals. I feel a little bad about that now, but at least we were together, having a great time and creating memories.

    • We used to go from long trips to visit my cousins in another province. Everytime I saw a sign advertising a McDonald’s at the next exit, I would attempt to lure my parents off the road with an ‘I’M HUNGRY!’. My mother always reached into the little plastic bag at her feet and offered me a peach….ugh.

    • Thanks! Observing each other is really what we all do isn’t it? Sometimes to much…(your kid is READING???? Mine isn’t…I’m a horrible parent!)

  • I can so relate! Especially when packing snacks for a day out–who has time to put together salads and all that? I’m lucky if I can get PBJ’s and sliced cucumbers together–and if I do, I feel like an alpha mom. Great post!

  • absolutely loved this.. I was just like you and my 4 kids never had the most healthy meals and snacks but they are all grown up from 30 down to 25 and guess what.. all happy, healthy and turned out just fine.. so no guilts! Thanks for a great article!!

    • Thanks, Carol! Same here. I remember having tons of chocolate chip ice cream (onto which I would sprinkle chocolate milk powder and corn syrup!). Now, I really no longer have a sweet tooth (and have just recently promised myself to cut down seriously on my chip consumption!)

  • I love this post. We eat out a minimum of once a week. I do try to stick to healthy options when I can but when eating out healthy is EXPENSIVE, which is sad. I ate fast food as a kid growing up and I turned out just fine. I believe that everything in moderation is okay. When your out shopping and the kids are starving, you don’t stop your trip and go home. You go to the food court and feed them. Life happens!

  • What a great story! My mom has before said that she wishes we had eaten healthier when my twin sister and I were little. But with 2 parents working full-time and living during the era of novelty snacks, convenience was grabbing some Gushers or a burger on our way to whatever school program twin and I had.

    As I have gotten older, I realize now that I can balance between the line of delicious goodies and healthy food. And when I have children, I will do the same.

    It seems that every parent can sympathize with taste buds craving junk food and wanting your family to eat healthy foods. Damn those taste buds!

  • lol your title is awesome! Loved reading this post! I think its impossible to resist kids when they beg for junk food and candy. Its probably good I don’t have kids. I don’t think I could ever tell them no. lol

  • Very funny. Enjoyed reading.
    My kids played football, our house quantity over quality for many years.
    Sad but true.

    • Ahhh…yes, bribery! I admit, I get lazy sometimes. I try to combine health and fun. Last night (when I was alone with them for supper) I gave spaghetti (a guaranteed favorite), but with an artichoke and oil/balsamic vinegar dip on the side. My daughter loved it, my son, not so much. But the fact that it was a dippy finger food encouraged them to try it and get messy. (I now have a bloated stomach from polishing off all that leftover artichoke.

    • It’s great to be vindicated by gramma, until it’s YOUR kids gramma…then you think she’s ruining their health fro life….we parents are crazy.

  • What a well written post! Loved the story. It’s funny how you both thought that you each side of the table thought that they had it better. Sometimes convenience trumps healthy and vice versa. No matter what it’s all about moderation.

    • If there were a pill for easing guilt, my kids wouldn’t live past the age of 15. It’d be 3 poutines a day for them, and three pills daily for me!

  • I loved reading this post! Your writing is so fun and refreshing to read. I don’t have kids yet, but I was still funny reading this story! I always to eat healthy just because I like the food choices 🙂

    The Tiny Professional

  • You are an excellent writer, its a great story to read, despite your guilt about not having a healthy lunch or dinner. I think many more parents have these issues too. I do.

  • It shows that you love them becasue you took them to their ski lessons when you didnt have to do anything for them. Keep doing what your doing.

  • I mix healthy and fast food. I think it’s important to get the nutrients and eat healthy, without all the added chemicals. But children do deserve occational unhealthy snack. To me it’s all about the proportions. Which proportion is bigger, the healthy one of the unhealthy one.

  • We all have been guilty of that & honestly as much as I try to feed my kids healthy & balance diet sometimes on the hill they just want the poutine & smokie even if I have healthy snacks in the bag. The way I see it they work hard all day skiing & the little indulgence is perfectly fine.

  • Its all about balance, if this were every day, I would have to pull you aside and say “dude, not cool.” BUT from what you say, its not an every meal thing, and part of childhood, IMHO (and sane parenting, if you want to get nitpicked) is letting go here and there, I mean- I WISH I could get a serving of poutine every now and again, but living in the lower 48 makes that impossible, so I would respond this time by saying, “dude, I am jealous of your kids!!!”

    • You live where there is NO POUTINE?? Don’t you have a congressperson who should be getting on that, like, asap?? I would threaten to revoke my citizenship.

  • Your convo with the other parent made my day! Lol

    “It’s funny you should say that. Our kids were telling us how jealous they were of your family’s meal.”

    It’s okay to have a not so healthy foods sometimes, shouldn’t be a big deal at all as long as it’s not everyday right?

    🙂

  • I wouldn’t stress it too much really. I mean you know you love your kids, even if they get unhealthy food here and there. They sound like healthy active children, so count that as a blessing right? 😉 I try not to worry too much about what’s being fed with other families around me. Though I will admit to feeling a little heart broken (and upset) when I see an obese young child eating their own bag of cheetos while drinking from their own personal 2 liter of soda at the beach in the summer!

  • No i don’t agree, if you love you must demonstrate in your act. Your reasons for serving junk food may be good to you but not to most parents, junk is junk not so much healthy. Oh but if once in a while it’s ok, after all taste buds need change!

  • we all have days like that–I think the biggest thing is to watch that it doesn’t happen daily. THAT’s where the trouble begins– Although I did just see a study where a man ate only McD’s for 3 months and lost 37 pounds…he did exercise regularly and counted his caloric intake.
    I do LOVE that Grandma came with skittles after LOL

    • Gotta watch those studies, though. (I know, I’m getting too heady here), weight loss is not an indicator of health. TOO much of that food will skyrocket your blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
      We try to encourage grandparents to not reward kids with sweets…so now they show up with arts and crafts and office supplies for the kids. Our house is starting to look like Staples.

About Author

Kenny Bodanis

Kenny Bodanis is the author of MenGetPregnantToo.com.
The site's articles and interviews focus on the trend of shifting gender roles in parental duties and involvement, as well as such topics as bullying, stress, and other challenges facing both children and parents.
His blog was named by Reader`s Digest Canada as one of the top parenting blogs in the country—the only dad on the list. It has also received accolades in the U.S. and the U.K.

Kenny's column, "Questions Parents Ask," appears weekly at
LifeWorks.com. He was part of a trio of bloggers at the site who won the Marcom Platinum Award for their writing.
He is also the regular parenting contributor for Montreal's Breakfast Television.
He lives in Montreal with his wife and two children. This is his first book
Feel free to follow him on:
Facebook | Twitter