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We May Not Make It To May

When Maddie was a baby, I had several
rules in place that only a first-time parent will ever even attempt
– things like no television until age 2, no desserts until
age 2, that sort of thing. I had well-researched, well-documented
reasons for these rules, and was proud we managed to follow those
rules despite societal pressures and temptations.

Fast-forward two years, to Cora’s early days, and while the
rules may still be in place, they’re taking quite a

Now that Maddie’s older, she gets to
watch one television show a day. She’s not allowed to watch
it before nap time, so it’s often the first thing she asks to
do upon waking; my child has learned to fun of vegging half-asleep
in front of a television. Cora, of course, is still not able to
watch television, so if she’s awake while Maddie’s
watching her show someone’s got to distract her and keep her
out of the room for that half-hour or hour. When Cora was younger
it wasn’t an issue, but as she’s gotten older
she’s begun suspecting something really great happens behind
closed doors and is increasingly agitated at having to leave.

But as difficult as television’s become, it still pales in
comparison to the whole sugar rule.

Maddie is allowed to have treats now, and will get a cookie or
piece of candy every week or two. Again, this was not an issue when
Cora was a baby, but now she sees this yummy-looking piece of
chocolate disappearing into Maddie’s mouth and says,
“Cora want some! Cora have some, peeese?”

How do you explain your logic for withholding to a toddler?
“Well, honey, we’re trying to develop your palate in a
natural way, and make you crave healthy sugars like blueberries and
peaches. That’s why Mommy makes all your yogurt and
doesn’t allow you to eat any of those cupcakes or cookies we
bake for other people, and it’s why your ‘ice
cream’ is frozen pureed fruit while Maddie’s eating
chocolate chocolate chip. Sorry, but it’s because we love you
and want you to have healthy habits!”

And here’s what Cora hears: “Blah blah blah blah blah
blah, we like Maddie better.”

I’m slowly caving on the sugar issue, simply because I
don’t want Cora to think it’s a favoritism thing.
I’ve got our “treat” substitutes for Cora that I
bring out whenever Maddie’s having something yummy:
“banana donuts” (banana bread made in mini muffin
cups); mango “ice cream” (though in all fairness Maddie
still loves this food!); and the big guns - organic teddy grahams
or animal crackers when Maddie’s really going to town on a
chocolate cupcake. But even those are less appetizing when a
toddler's looking uncertainly at a big sister, who says smugly,
"You can't have this, Cora! You're too young!"

I’ve only got a couple more months to go – really just
a month and a half – and it’s going to be a race to the
finish line. I think Easter’s going to be the biggest hurdle;
how do I explain all the chocolate-covered Cheerios and M&Ms in
Maddie’s basket to a toddler with a basket full of
yogurt-covered cheerios and animal crackers?

And truly, I know there are worse things than eating a piece of
chocolate a few weeks shy of your second birthday. I know
it’s not the end of the world, and doesn’t make me a
bad mom. Really, I know that. But I see how much I was able to
control and shape Maddie’s first couple of years, and I want
to do the same for Cora – if only so I can say I was fair,
that I gave both girls the same start in life. I don’t want
Cora to grow up with bad teeth or eating issues and me think,
“If only I’d waited on the chocolate like I did with

See, it all seems noble and self-sacrificing, but it’s really
all about me: what can I do to keep my name out of my kid’s
future therapy sessions?


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