Tonight started out innocently enough.
Maya was in her high-chair, happily eating bite-sized pieces of cucumber and a few chopped up pieces of mac-n-cheese for dinner. We eat after she goes to bed, but I was hungry too. So I opened the fridge to find a healthy snack … and, found myself with the can of Reddi-Wip.
[Insert Jaws soundtrack here]
Ah, fat-free Reddi-Wip.
Long-time readers (and friends and family) might know about my not-so-secret vice that comes in a stomach-bloating (but so delicious!) can of blue. At just Points for the entire can … (200 calories) … it’s a little taste of heaven – and yes, I’ve polished off a can in a day before. Please don’t judge.
Anyway, there I was standing with the fridge open, literally squirting Reddi-Wip in my mouth when I suddenly heard that familiar whimper coming from across the room.
It was Maya, pointing and reaching her little hand out — her way of telling me that SHE wants whatever it is that Mommy is having. (This child will eat ANYTHING. Literally there is nothing we have offered her that she has not liked yet!!)
My heart sank.
Not because she wanted what I was eating (she’s of course had a taste of RW before!) but because the situation was all wrong, and made me feel uncomfortable and sad. You see, she is watching our every move now, following our lead. She is absorbing and learning at a pace we can’t keep up with … and I don’t want to mess her up.
[Funny and relevant side note about learning: this weekend when I was at Zumba, L was folding some laundry on the couch in the living room. Maya had been playing with a toy but when she looked up and saw what he was doing, she suddenly stopped, walked to her room (big girl!), pulled out a pair of black tights from her accessories basket, brought it to the couch and proceeded to “fold” it, a la Daddy. When he told me the story, I melted a hundred times over. God I love this child!]
Anyway, this means she is exposed to much more than we think she is. Seeing Daddy fold laundry and mimicking him? Awesome and adorable.
Seeing Mommy 1) standing at the fridge 2) eating whipped cream squirted out of a can? Not so much. It’s certainly not the example I wish to set for my daughter, and it was a good reminder of what NOT to do.
I put the can away and made sure to eat a few cucumber slices in her presence, and it was over — at least, for the moment. But it certainly got me thinking.
I’m not saying she’ll never see me squirt Reddi-Wip again or eat something standing up, but it was a good reminder I need to be more aware of my surroundings now than ever before. What might seem like a harmless action really isn’t so innocuous — and it sets a bad precedence.
Parents don’t need to be perfect, but they need to practice what they preach. That means giving a little thought to my behaviors with respect to food.
I’d never want her to see my doing things I do that are not exactly disordered (by my definition) but aren’t exactly normal, either – (e.g., taking a bite of a candy bar and chucking the rest; eating the pie filling but not the crust, to name a few).
I’m ashamed of these things because — though they are things I’ve always done and they aren’t the ugly behaviors of my past — they’re still not nice, not polite, not acceptable. I don’t want her to follow my lead in that way … and she is watching us like a hawk these days — all the more reason to quit said behaviors.
Have you seen those those public service announcements for the ABCs for babies and sleep? (Babies should be ALONE/On their BACK/In a CRIB). I’ve decided I need to create something similar for how I need to eat — I’ll call it the RST. (Melissa needs to eat REAL food/SITTING down/at a TABLE)
Has a nice ring to it, no?
In a way, I’m glad what happened tonight happened. I think I needed this wake-up call to realize that Maya is at that parroting stage where she is repeating everything we do and say (in her own little way). Teaching her good table manners is important — and it won’t always be easy, but I need to lead by example.
It’s that important.
How about you? What behaviors have you given second thought to after having children?