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When Is A Popsicle More Than Just A Popsicle?

No, I’m not talking about anything Freudian. For my husband and me, the Popsicles that I bought yesterday have become a source of contention.

My husband and I used to fight about one thing only: money. We’d have skirmishes here and there about other things, but if I were to list our top ten biggest fights, fights about money would be at least eight of the ten. But recently, for the past four months or so, we’ve been having huge fights about what the kids are eating.

I’ve had issues with my weight since I was about 18 or 19. For years it was just the same 20 pounds or so, but since I was trying to get jobs as an actress, that 20 pounds might as well have been 200. Then I had kids, and I just ballooned up. I’ve taken some off in the past year, but still have a ways to go. And I’ve been trying to pay close attention to why I eat too much. If I only ate when I was hungry, I think I could eat pretty much anything and be an OK weight. But I eat whether I’m hungry or not, and continue eating way past the point of being full. I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was OK because I was running around all the time. But in my late teens, it all started to catch up with me.

After much introspection and observation, I realized that I was mostly eating out of fear: fear that the food wouldn’t be there tomorrow. When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. She would buy me any foods I wanted, and I lived on a diet of Jeno’s mini pizzas, ice cream, sugary cereals, and peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches on Wonder Bread (or so I’m told). I ate as much as I could, as often as I could, because I knew that when I went back to my parents house, it was going to be all carob and tofu and brown bread. It probably wasn’t as bleak as all that, but that’s how I saw it as a kid. I was insanely jealous of friends whose houses were packed with junk foods.

So, I would feast, in anticipation of the famine. And years later, when our house was filled with a bigger variety of foods, and I had control over what I was able to eat, I was still eating as though the “good stuff” was going to be taken away. And as I got older, and wasn’t on sports teams any more, and got a car, and money for eating out, the pounds starting coming on.

I don’t want my kids to grow up with the same food issues that I have, but we’re sending them down the same path. I try to give them as much leeway as I can with what they eat, without totally going against what my husband wants them to eat. But as they get older, it’s becoming more of a problem. I can see them attacking food and eating and eating and eating, and not even paying attention to whether or not they’re full. My son craves white bread and pasta and chocolate all the time. I think he should get it all the time. Eventually, he’ll get sick of it. But The Ass (that’s how I’m going to refer to him from now on, since that’s what I usually call him at home) thinks that’s horrible, that I’m encouraging bad eating behaviors.

It’s not like I think eating white bread and pasta and chocolate all the time are good for Jake, but I also know that the more we try to get him to eat other foods, the more he’s going to want what he wants. My husband is a raging liberal, but in this case I think he’s using a very conservative kind of logic: do what you think is right, based on your principals, not what you think will get results. Just think teen pregnancy and condoms vs. abstinence, and you’ll get what I mean.

Fiona always wants ices and Fla-Vor-Ice pops and ice cream. So when she wanted Popsicles at the store yesterday, I picked out a big box of sugar-free, lo-cal ones. Personally, I believe in giving kids the real stuff, but I figured these would make The Ass happy and she wouldn’t have to beg and plead for them.

So today, she asked her Daddy for two, and he said no! And I was like “Really? The low-cal, sugar free Popsicles? She can’t have two?” And he said no, because that would be gluttony. Because she perceives it as a dessert, a treat, something to beg for and cherish. So letting her have two would send the wrong message.

I give up. The girl who loves broccoli and yogurt and baby carrots and fruit of all kinds can’t have two Popsicles, because that would be gluttony. But Jake the pasta boy had Oreos and chocolate chips, and that was OK. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever witnessed.

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