Snack Envy

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Let's Get Personal, Parenthood | 68 comments

I had forgotten how good graham crackers could taste. And Cheerios, and Goldfish, and animal crackers, and every other crunchy, carby kid food.

Until I had a toddler.

It’s not just the flavor, either. It’s the crackly bag, the tantalizing smell, the convenient thereness. Irresistible. And I can’t eat any of it. Not if I want my morning milk, evening chocolate, or, say, lunch.

But it’s hard to turn down tempting treats when you’ve got a two-year-old snack pusher in your household. Sunshine’s not subtle, either. Like my grandmother, her namesake, she’s a high-impact sharer who hates to eat alone. And I’m her preferred dining partner – or at least the most convenient one.

Each time I break out Sunshine’s snacks, she pinches a few in her fidgety fingers and sweetly offers them to me. When I turn her down, she tries again, pushing the crackers against my hands, my mouth. She chants, “Share! Share!” and eats a bite herself, then waves the gnawed-on remains in front of my eyes. After all, if she loves them, then Mommy will, too, right? (Yes. Unfortunately.)

A short quiz, plus a confession: Do you know how hard it is not to share with a two-year-old who wants to snack with you? (Answer: Impossible.) Do you know how hard it is to turn down a Goldfish when its cheddar essence has brushed against your lips and hovered under your nose? (Answer: Even more impossible.) The truth: I want those snacks even more than she wants to feed them to me.

When I am strong, I clench my lips shut, and force myself to smile, and praise Sunshine for being nice. I mentally count my calories, subtracting exercise, adding dinner. How many in a handful of Goldfish? (Answer: 140.) How many in one animal cracker? No, strike that. Three animal crackers? (Because eating just one is the most impossible feat of all. Oh, and by the way? 23.) How many in the Cheerios Sunshine just offered me? (Answer: x times the number of Cheerios, minus y, wherein x is Sunshine’s determination and y is my ability to adhere to my diet.)

When I am weak, which is often, I take the proffered food. Sunshine grins, thrilled with my choice. I chew and mentally praise the goodness of crunchy snacks, trying not to regret them before I’ve even swallowed.

I want Sunshine to share. I want her to be generous and giving. I want her to say, “Yours!” instead of “Mine!” I want her to have a healthy relationship with food, whatever that means.

And, oh, God, I want to eat those Honey Grahams.

I just want not to be a blimp tomorrow.

Life is like this, a constant weighing of good vs. bad, a never-ending list of choices. And, frankly, most are bigger than whether or not to ingest twenty-three calories’ worth of crunchy circus animals. Like which prom dress to wear. Which subject to major in. Which person to marry, which house to buy, which book to write next. When to have children.

So when I do give in to Sunshine’s enthusiastic, pushy-grandma ways, I try to see her goofy smile and not the calories. And I remind myself that, well, at least we’re not choosing colleges. Yet.

  • 12tequilas

    Thought I’d return the wonderful favor of your visiting my blog. I haven’t enough time to read all of your comments here, so I’m sure this was already said, but your lovely daughter’s act of sharing her snacks with you obliterates the calories thereof, so don’t worry!

  • Suzanne Lilly

    As a teacher, I’m surrounded by Goldfish, Tackis, Oreos, and Teddy Grahams all day long. I’m also a stress eater. So guess what? During the school year, I gain 5-10 pounds. It comes off in the summer, then come September, and all those yummo snacks, I start gaining it back. The joys of being around kids, eh? Thanks for a fun post!

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Tuere – Sunshine loves those, too! They’re harder to take places, though, because they crumble more easily. (Or maybe it’s just the whole wheat ones we get.) I should start using those instead, though. Eating them makes me think of being sick, so they’re not as tempting. Hmmm. Might have to do that!

    @Carole – We do try to be careful with what we eat, but sometimes we’re out for an entire morning, and Sunshine just needs a quick something. I don’t want her to have food poisoning from eating old apples and cheese, and I’d much rather give her Cheerios or Whole Wheat crackers than fast food.

    @Robin – LOL! (Especially the bit about being a bottomless pit and not supposed to be growing.) I forgot to mention pretzels and popcorn in this post. Those are also great take-along snacks. We use the unsalted pretzels, which is great because they’re not nearly as tempting for me and they’re better for Sunshine. And, no, I haven’t tried the peanut butter / graham cracker combo. Sounds delicious!

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Liz – We keep expecting Sunshine to become very picky. I’m sure that time will come soon, in fact. I love that your daughter dresses you in stickers and barrettes, too. So cute! I you feel so GORGEOUS after that!

    @Kim – Thanks for stopping by! LOL at picking up a snack that’s supposed to be crunchy and finding out it’s moist instead. That happens to me sometimes, and eeewwww! When I do take from Sunshine’s stash, I usually dig under the top layers for something fresh, and I try not to let her actually feed me (though that doesn’t always work).

    @Medeia – I’m glad you stopped by, too! Your students sound so sweet! When I was teaching I had a few who tried to share. Some were just being nice. Others seemed to think that if they could get me to eat in class, they’d be able to as well. I always declined their snack offers, too.

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Nina – I love MyFitnessPal! Well, I love that it does help me lose weight. I hate actually having to hold back, and it’s awful to slink in after a bad day and enter all those calories. Ugh. But it’s been working for me, so it’s not all bad! And I love your graham cracker + chocolate chips idea. Sounds delicious! I like the individually wrapped Ghiradelli chocolate squares, or something similar. I dole out one to myself and that’s what I get to have in the evening.

    @12Tequilas – Thanks for reciprocating! And for the consolation. Hey, at least she’s sharing instead of grabbing them all and saying, “Mine! Mine!” So that’s great.

    @Suzanne – That’s fascinating! I bet it’s especially bad in the time between Halloween and Christmas, when there always seems to be stuff to snack on in the teachers’ lounge. (Or maybe that was just our lounge when I was teaching!) I actually gained weight when I wasn’t teaching, because I could eat whatever I wanted for lunch instead of the sensible lunches I used to pack for myself. Plus I could snack whenever I wanted. It was a lot easier to diet when I didn’t have access to all that food!

  • A.Barlow

    Ha! So true. My kid loves those crackers and every now and then… I’ll take a little nibble an wonder why I didn’t sooner!

    • Caryn Caldwell

      LOL! They’re good, aren’t they? Thanks for following my link back and visiting my regular blog! There’s not a lot of crossover between my photo blog and my regular blog. :-)

  • Valerie

    Adorable post! My youngest is almost 10 (how did this happen?) and is decidedly not a food sharer. His big sister would shout out in the car, “You are wasting it!” if she caught me sneaking a cracker or two. As if me eating is wasteful! Hmpff!

    My biggest weakness was the grilled cheese sandwiches. So glad those evil suckers don’t hit the menu much anymore.

  • Leslie Rose

    I’m having an intense Teddy Graham moment. What a sweet post. I do miss those days. Now when we eat together my son keeps an eagle eye on my plate and says “Are you going to eat that?” whenever my fork pauses.

  • M. Christine Weber

    I swear I didn’t lose my pregnancy weight until my last child was at least 4 because of this whole “sharing” thing. Was it worth it? Yes. Can I relate to you and Sunshine? Oh heck, yes! Hahaha… :0)

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Valerie – LOL! Well, if mama doesn’t eat, she won’t have the energy to feed everyone else, so those snacks definitely weren’t wasted!

    @Leslie – I’ve heard Teddy Grahams are delicious. I want to try them, but am afraid I won’t be able to restrain myself. As for the “Are you going to eat that?” I get that from my husband. Hungry little vultures, aren’t they? :-)

    @M. Christine – Okay, that’s good news and bad news for sharing mommies. Sounds like there’s hope, but it’s still years away. Hmmm. Maybe I should just enjoy those graham crackers while I have the excuse…

  • neal

    oh man…after reading this I zoned out for about 5 minutes thinking about teddy grahams. Those were AMAZING. I NEED THEM NOW.

  • Dawn Simon

    Sunshine sounds like a doll! I love that you’re savoring your time with her. Yes, they grow up too fast.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend! :)

  • Marta

    Oh yes, yes, yes. I 100% know what you mean. I started Monday thinking I was going to restart my diet. I was good at breakfast, but then came lunch and it was okay but then at the beach my daughter kept giving me all her pretzels. And how can I say no? And then the taste was there. The taste for more! And well, let’s just say the diet has been 100% blown since the starchy goodness crossed my lips!

  • Carmen Oliver

    I haven’t had breakfast yet and now I’m craving cheese fishies after reading your post. I have a sharer, too. She’s almost ten now but she never eats anything without offering to see if Dad or I want a bite. Even if it’s her favorite snack or jellybeans. Sunshine sounds equally precious!

  • Julie Dao

    Your Sunshine sounds like such a sweetie pie! How wonderful that she’s so insistent on sharing (though not so wonderful for someone on a diet!).

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Neal – I’ve never had them, but so many people have recommended them that I must give them a try! Maybe on my next grocery store visit. (Though I’m afraid that I won’t be able to keep my hands off them afterward!)

    @Dawn – Thanks! Hope you had a great weekend, too!

    @Marta – Exactly! Hope you are able to get back on track without too much trouble. Once you start with those snacks, though, it’s so hard to stop, isn’t it?

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Carmen – Your daughter sounds wonderful! I’ve heard so many kids grow out of sharing like that, but it sounds like it’s in her personality. How sweet!

    @Julie – Now I just have to get her to share broccoli instead. Too bad it’s not quite as easy to take along on play dates and strolls.

  • Carmen

    Hello, I just found your blog. I gotta tell you that I miss those days. My youngest child is eighteen so she’s hardly home never mind feeding me snacks. I do remember making Rice Krispy treats with the kids. Those were fun to do together.

  • Jess Haight

    I can only imagine how challenging it is to watch what you eat with a toddler eating snacks that make your mouth water. It sounds like you are finding a good balance. I love the humour in your writing.

  • Caryn Caldwell

    @Carmen – Ooh! Rice Krispy treats. Those would be fun. I remember making them with my mom but haven’t had one in years. I bet Sunshine would love it.

    @Jess – Thanks! I like to make people laugh. It’s fun. :-)

  • Elaine-

    oh gosh haha, you’re a very good writer and i could use a goldfish cracker or crate full right now lol

    i’ll tell you tho, you don’t have to do without carbs in your life… i have gone vegan, and i do a program called the mcdougall program from a book called ‘the starch solution’… this book has pretty much changed my life in every way, and i think you should read it haha…

    right now my eating consists of super freakin’ yummy decadent smoothies made in my vitamix, and a huge mcdougall meal at the end of the day, a nice pasta dish, or a bean and barley soup, or rice and refried beans, stuff like that, i’m happy, full of energy, i can DO THINGS now, where as i was too sick to do anything before… i wish you well if you choose the road of carb discovery lol

  • Michael Rawluk

    Maybe I should try some honey grahams. I am trying to gain weight.

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