Snack Envy

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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.

  • The days of choosing colleges will come before you know it! (It did for me.) And there was always something completely irresistible about animal crackers. Never could say no.

    • I’ve heard that. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but then people told me the baby stage would be over before I knew it, and somehow it was!

  • It’s also the relentlessness of their desire for food. If I didn’t have to go into the kitchen 20 times a day and open the fridge… I might look like I didn’t go into the kitchen 20 times a day to open the fridge.

    • Ha ha ha! SO true. All that stuff in the fridge kills my diet. And so funny the way you said it, too. Love it!

  • I had forgotten all about “the sharing” stage. It will pass. I was once again introduced to Cheese-Its that I love. My mouth trembled a bit writing that just now. And my oldest starts college in the fall. So enjoy — it will catch you by surprise.

    • Oh, yum. I had forgotten about Cheese-Its. I used to love those. Better not get any; if they’re around the house they’ll all go to me, not Sunshine.

      Hope your oldest loves college!

      • Ha! I totally hear you! The last few weeks before I went to the US, I was on a low cal diet and doing excercise. Everyday was filled with decisions and give and take. I couldn’t imagine having a cute sharing two year old trying to take me to the dark side!:) LOL

        • I hope you at least let yourself splurge and eat some good stuff while you were on your trip!

  • Oh, how cute! I can just picture her sweet smile as she offers to share the snacks with you. Really, you’re just doing your duty as a mama by accepting. Not only do you help make her day, but like you said, you’re teaching her all these wonderful qualities at the same time. That should totally mean those calories don’t count! 😉

    • Wouldn’t that be nice? Like calories on your birthday. Or calories you didn’t actually enjoy consuming. Or calories on vacation.

  • I miss those days! There’s something incredibly good and powerful and sweet about little ones sharing. Worth every calorie 🙂

    • So true. Although I grumble about it sometimes – especially as I’m tallying my calories, it’s just so sweet and generally worth it.

  • My guys are past that age and will only share when asked, but I have quite the fondness for White Cheddar Cheez-its. It’s hard not to pinch a few when they snack on those. And have you tried Chocolate Cheerios? They’re especially good mixed with the newer Banana Nut Cheerios (but my boys won’t eat the banana ones).

    • Oh, my gosh. I haven’t heard of ANY of those! They all sound delicious, though. And here I thought I’d bought about every snack food out there. (Just ask the other mothers in our mommy group.) And what a great idea to mix the chocolate Cheerios with the banana ones. I love chocolate/banana combos! Yum!

  • I LOVE honey graham goldfish. Yum. At least there are fewer calories in them than in nachos (which I also love love love).

    • They make honey graham goldfish?!? Okay, my diet is officially blown – or it will be about five minutes after my next grocery shopping trip. And nachos? Yum!

  • Pat

    Caryn, you’ve made me a believer. I very rarely read a blog post that is more than a paragraph long. I laughed out loud reading about you and Sunshine sharing an animal cracker, a goldfish, whatever. As a matter of fact, I read your post twice and enjoyed it even more. The best part was NO calories! I love your writing style and wit!

    • Pat, your comment just made my day! Thank you so much. As for the length, this started out as a short post – really! – but it somehow just kept growing.

  • I adore Sunshine, what a sweetie–and I just saw my younger niece’s graduation from college and all I could think is, how come I have such a strong memory of her eating Cheerios and myself being amazed at those tiny toddler fingers? It seems like yesterday, perhaps because it was.

    • Yes! I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes I watch Sunshine’s little fingers at work and am just amazed. It reminds me all over again that we, imperfect as we are, somehow made another little person.

  • Hi Caryn,

    Diet………gee…..I wouldn’t know what a diet was. Meaning I’ve never had to diet a day in my life. I’m not boasting here. But…
    isn’t it everything in moderation.

    Don’t buy the stuff to put in your fridge that temps you. When you want it, it won’t be there. Have a piece of fruit, drink a glass of juice. I do.

    When it comes to times that you really need something you crave, have a small amount.

    I eat what I want. But I guess I don’t like a lot of fatty foods to begin with. I eat cake, biscuits now and then, but I eat lollies every day. I don’t eat chocolate, because I don’t like the taste.

    I have desert once a pink moon, only because I don’t feel like it much.
    When I do get a craving I’ll have it. I guess we are all different. But, everything in moderation.

    Don’t make the next ten years of eating what they tell you is good, for tomorow they will say it is bad.

    MODERATION. There is nothing wrong with a piece of cake now and again, even a few strips of chocolate.

    Go and have that little desire. You only live once. But have a little slice. 🙂

    • Oh, I wish it were that easy! It used to be, but now I have some extra baby weight that hasn’t come off yet, and all those toddler snacks are so tempting! So cool that you’ve never had to diet, though