Sugar, Breakfast of Champions?

    Part of learning to parent is learning to functionwithoutsleep acceptpooponyourfinger identifyillnessfromboogercolor  cook. For some this may have been a base already covered. I picture you jogging, nibbling on an apple. On the other end of the spectrum, I was faced with the harsh reality that Doritos aren’t made from real cheese and apparently deep-fried onion rings don’t count as a nutritious serving of veggies. A daily dose of coffee, sugar, extra mayo and microwave supper became the norm.
Say whaaaaat?
       For the first year of the little man’s life, my son’s nutritional needs were tended to by one Miss Jar-O-Gerber. For a few cents, my baby could eat veggies, lean meats, fruits, and wholesome oats while I scarfed down copious amounts of tortilla chips and leftover taco meat.  Rather than shell out the cash for organic vegetables and an at-home food processor, I cranked up the A/C and took the road most traveled: store-bought, no-prep-time-required items. Ah! But for the fork in the road…
   We recently stopped by the pediatrician’s office for my son’s 15-month checkup. Highlights of our visit: four shots, three minutes of wailing, two super speedy diaper changes, and one stunning warning: NO MORE BABY FOOD!
{As with most things I don’t want to hear, this medically trained statement sounded like a scream. In retrospect, the Baby Doc is a mild-mannered gentleman who was, no doubt, barely speaking above a whisper.} 

Naturally, I quickly set out to serve the tot a heaping stack of chocolate chip pancakes. For his first full meal of table food, I wanted to wow the little guy.

Here’s my secret recipe: 
2 cups pancake mix

1 1/2 cups water

1 MILLION chocolate chips

Butter (generous portion) You can’t put a number on Happiness, only cholesterol.

Mix. Stir. Spoon. Flip. Serve. Eat. Probably suffer a heart attack.  


3 Daily Servings for a more fulfilled life.

     What happened next can best be described as savage inhalation. The normally peaceful, happy-go-lucky boy grunted like a starving beast, clawing bits of pancake into piles like a hyena guarding his kill. He stopped to let loose a crazed laugh, only to quickly return his wide-eyed gaze to the tray. As he viciously chomped his own fingers to extract the last of breakfast’s gooey goodness, an inner dialogue knotted in my belly. “You are the best mom ever. He will love you forever for this”…..”Can you feel that? It’s the eyes of a million Vegan Moms judging you. You’re a heinous milk-drinker, egg-beater. You pollute an innocent child’s innards?”. It was a fluid movement from the guilty shortcomings of a new and naive mom to the woman proud to please her loved ones with an honorable, buttered skillet.

Look closer. You can SEE his blood pressure spiking.

     Freed from the confines of the high chair, I watched the chocodrunk run like sugared madness. I could barely track his movement. I would catch just the scent of Aunt Jemima’s and the odd arm flailing overhead. Tearing through piles of toys, spinning in frantic circles, running face-first into corner after wall after closed-door, my kid was amped up on chocolate chip pancakes. For three hours the mayhem raged forth, furniture overturned and cabinets emptied until he collapsed to the floor. A three-hour nap and carnal wreckage of a  poor diaper brought our day to a close.  I would wager a dollar that his dreams were less about sugar plums and more about, well, just sugar.

In the days following, I have been a culinary mess. My weekly trip to the grocery store was frightening proof that I do not eat healthily. I stared at a cart filled with the usuals.When faced with the question “Can you feed your kid this?”, I realized our pantry is essentially a salt lick wrapped in a vat of butter smothered in caramel sauce. For months I’ve eaten more artificial product that I care to admit, all the while feeling secure that my child was getting the very best diet Gerber had to offer. He ate corn; I ate corn pudding. He ate chicken and rice; I ate a fourth meal courtesy of Taco Bell that may or may not have contained chicken and rice. Now, he must eat what I eat.

     To save myself from dented walls and save my child from prepubescent clogged arteries, this cupcake mom has to find a balance. After much internet browsing and friend consulting, I’ve stocked my house with a little less salt and a few more greens. I’ve ditched the sugar-sprinkled cereals, and bulked up the bowls of fruit. I’m even trying to fool myself into NOT believing it’s  not butter. It’s all Wheat-Instead-Of-White in these parts.

   Perhaps it’s a dumb refusal to fully embrace a healthy lifestyle, but the pancake mix and those little drops of Heaven we’ve come to call Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips remain cabinet bound. For as much as I am starting to understand that these fat-packed snacks can’t be a regular occurrence, giving my son the occasional jolt of sugar and thrill still seems like the right thing a mom should do.

  {Healthy mothers cringe. Carrot-munching toddlers shake disappointed heads in my direction. My son perks up from his nap with the meer mention of a  breakfast treat.}






37 thoughts on “Sugar, Breakfast of Champions?

  1. my kids get partially hydrogenated oil filled cinnamon rolls once a week and no one has yet to sprout a third arm (they also eat eggo pancakes or waffles every day too, with a banana)…enjoy the pancakes- the best part of the sugar high is the crash! Enjoy it!

    1. Did you say third arm? I might encourage this deformity, just so my third ankle doesn’t feel like such an outcast 🙂
      The marathon nap after Baby’s pancake party was AWESOME. I did sneak in his room to make sure he was still breathing, but it was the longest break I’ve gotten in ages!

  2. Yep, meals after baby food is yet another thing for us to feel guilty about. You’re stocking healthy stuff too, so I wouldn’t worry about the pancakes. They have chocolate – isn’t chocolate the base of the food pyramid?

    If it makes you feel any better, once they go to school, any good habits you instill will be squarely dumped at the schoolyard entrance. My eight-year-old has told me enough about his choices that I know this is a fact 🙂

  3. … and yet we all somehow survive– butter or no butter! 🙂

    One of my own mom’s fondest (but most guilt-wracked) memories of my babyhood is the first time she ever offered me chocolate. Apparently, I was thrown into an almost epileptic fit of ecstasy, shaking my tiny fists and blinking my eyelids over my now-bulging, trembling eyeballs. She was thrilled by the joy she gave me but simultaneously haunted by the thought that she had RUINED. EVERYTHING. FOREVER. I turned out fine. Everything in moderation, right?

  4. I think it’s a little sad, on my part, that I want some of those pictured pancakes. I’m almost jealous of Thomas! 🙂

    I struggle to get Michael to eat anything…he prefers bland…tasteless food…chicken, turkey, yogurt. But he loves “chocla”. In order to get him to take medicine, I promise him a hershey’s kiss. He drinks the medicine as if were the best drink to be had…

    1. Haha! I was a little tempted to “help” him finish his breakfast 🙂
      I am lucky. Thomas will eat any and EVERYTHING, so I guess my job is just to make sure it’s not all bad all the time!

  5. My last little guy had his first waffle at 10 months (he’ll be a year old next week). 2 nights ago he had little pieces of shredded chicken, red and yellow pepper pieces, and steamed carrots! Next week he’ll get his only little “let loose” on some chocolate cake!!!! Because it’s fun, and he’s a kid. We try to keep it healthy the majority of the time, but the rest of the time… we let them be kids! Heck… one of the reward systems I have set up for school is candy after 5 (I did my best on this subject) stamps! Right now we have Tootsie Rolls and Blow Pops in the candy basket. WHAT THE HECK is in a tootsie roll, and really….what’s in the blow pop??? Because that smooshy centered filling they call gum… just really isn’t gum like at all. It kind of this weird keeps dissolving the more you chew it… and just sends goosebumps up my arms thinking about how disgustingly DELICIOUS they are thing! 🙂

    🙂 Your son is a beauty and I think that mom is awesome for making him pancakes with 1 million chocolate chips in the mix! My son makes the same face yours has in the pics when he attacks our puppy (that we got for Christmas….ugh… the pain in my…) anyhow, sorry back on track 🙂 when he attacks her and pulls her ears, then beats on her a bit. Now I’m starting to think that maybe I need to be concerned that my child makes this same excited, best time of my life expression- when showing the pup whose boss, ROFL!

    1. I think you are right. Mostly healthy is great, but there has to be a treat thrown in the mix for good measure! Puppy for Christmas? I would have killed someone. With the anxious dog we already have, I think I would’ve died!

      1. Ugh, yes… beast pup for Christmas. I have avoided writing a post about her because it just angers me to think of the fourth, very hairy, horse-like, 12 week old child in my home. I’m getting chills just replying to your comment, so I think I’ll end it here 🙂

    1. As a Southerner, giving up butter kind of feels like kicking a preacher….totally wrong and against all moral codes. I’m just trying to use it in smaller, less heart-attack-inducing portions!

  6. Hilarious, especially the food pyramid. I was a demented make-all-the-baby’s-own-food-from-scratch mom. Then, one day, when I picked my daughter up at the sitter’s (I, of course, sent her there with a container of organic, unseasoned food I had prepared), the sitter said, “Oh, Yael had such fun today. I made hot dogs for all the kids and she ate four!”

    1. Oh Lord! She was just so darn excited for a taste of artificial meat product! My mom was super healthy as far as our diets were concerned, but eventually we went off to the cafeteria and hoarded cookies and microwave pizzas. All that work, and the school gave us chips and ice cream 🙂

  7. Tori, you’re a fun mom. I want me some of them pancakes. Eating what they call “health food” nowadays is hugely overrated. Real butter and real cream is better than the supposed heart-healthy margarine, fake cream and low-fat foods. The body knows how to break down real food, but it doesn’t know how to get rid of the toxins in man-made, overprocessed foods.

  8. You are a fabulous Mom. Don’t beat yourself up about the occasional willingness to give your happy son decadent gooey-ness. Sarah’s birthday breakfast this morning was chocolate chip and banana pancakes (granted made with whole wheat). Later today she will have ladybug cookies in her classroom, followed by some kind of cake in the evening. I have no clue about what I will feed her to counteract the sugar high.

    But seriously, I’m trying to change my eating habits as an example to my daughter and to combat the imminent doom that my family’s health has placed over my head. However, I refuse to diet or completely give up the occasional indulgence. If I do that, life becomes a form of torture from healthy meal to healthy meal, that does not feed my soul. (Since I’ve focused on this after New Year’s, I have lost 10 lbs.) I think Sarah is slowly learning what is good food, what is bad food, and what is food that sometimes is good for spiritual reasons if not health reasons. That’s all I can ask.

  9. Unfortunately, this is the first in a long line of habits that you’ll have to question as he gets older. Won’t be long until he says “how come I can’t have snacks in my playroom but you and dad eat chips in *your* playroom (aka the living room)?” Sigh. “How come I hafta go pee and you don’t?” (because *mommy* doesn’t pee her pants in the car on the way to gymnastics, that’s why…) Sigh. “How come I have to eat broccoli and dad doesn’t have to?” (because mommy gave up on daddy’s eating habits a long long time ago, that’s why) “How come I have to go to bed and you get to stay up?” (because I said so) “How come I only get 1 hour of TV and you get, like, seven?” (because I am the mom) It never ends.

  10. Brilliant, Tori–especially, “But for the fork in the road.”

    Have to admit that I empathize, as I am still eating poorly. I went for about 10 years eating exceptionally well, but then I rebelled. And I rebelled bad!

    Good luck learning to love those apples!

  11. Lol, holy crap, Tori, now I’m scared AGAIN about raising a human being! Good lord, woman, is there any moment in motherhood that won’t reduce me to a blathering mess in the bathroom corner??

    Just kidding. 🙂 I actually experienced something sort of similar when Robert was diagnosed with his soy allergy. When we walked through the grocery store to find new forms of food that wouldn’t kill him, I was beyond grateful for the cart because it supported my wobbly legs as I discovered that EVERYTHING has soy in it! I started crying in the middle of the cookie aisle as I realized that our favorite Keebler elves had been slowly poisoning my husband for the past year. It scared me and made me so so sad. Hm…I probably shouldn’t compare shopping for Robert to shopping for a toddler…but…uh…there you have it, lol.

    Also, I think chocolate chip pancakes once a week would be okay, don’t you think? Surely there’s a time when we can teach our children moderation…if there is, though…I have absolutely no idea how to do it, lol. Maybe I’ll just let you sort of pioneer that land for me…. 😉

    1. Oh girl, dealing with a serious soy allergy is much harder than saying no to the Cheez Its! If anything, your attention to Robert’s dietary needs will make you a PRO by the time you guys have a kiddo! I’m hoping a weekly helping of pancakes won’t do him much harm. That smile was the best thing ever!

  12. Ok, I’ll be the Debbie Downer of this thread. You can eat healthy and have fun too. I used to make open faced sandwiches with raisins for eyes, prunes for noses, apple bits for mouths, eyebrows, ears, whatever, sunflower seeds for hair. The kids loved them. Eating healthy does not have to equal bland, hard or bad. Sweet potatoes are sweet and can be nuked, just like regular potatoes. Yes, there certainly is room for treats. But even treats can be relative. My kids still miss my oatmeal pancakes. My daughter never had sugar for her first two years of life, my son, well, lets just say your second child is usually the more relaxed one. I do think it makes a difference. It might be scary to change, but there is more than enough information and support on the web. Everything is relative, even if you only make a partial effort, that is still better than nothing. I will now put my cheerleader outfit on an start chanting “go, Go, GO, TORI GOOOO.”

    1. No, you are right! My mom used to feed us banana chips for a treat. It took until my freshman year in college to figure out what most other kids considered sweets! I think my panick was realizing that I have not been feeding myself well, and suddenly need to feed my child well. It’s a whole new way of thinking!

  13. For about 15 years my mom, who COULD NOT COOK, preented me with cinnamon toast for breakfast (white bread liberally slathered with margarine, doused wth sugar, and wildly chastened with cinnamon, then broiled to carmalized goodness. Packed lunch was 2 slices of white bread containing 2 slices of FRIED SPAM (no shit Sherlock!), slathered with yellow mustard. This would sit in damp foil in my locker for about 6 hours before eating. Yum! Kind of like eating wet gym socks. Dinner was always some form of overcooked, burnt protein, with canned veggies boiled until they were grey. NEVER had a fresh salad until I was 18, nor raw veggies, or even much fresh fruit. Here I am, 58 years later, in the peak of health!
    I say it’s all balance, and the Man Child must have mucho happy culinary memories of Mom and pancakes and choco chips, Frito pie, and gooey mac n cheese. Viva la biscuit!!

  14. I totally think that pancakes are a balanced meal. You’ve got some dairy, wheat, maple syrup comes from a tree which almost makes it a green leafy vegetable. What else do you really need??

  15. Hold the phone… deep fried onions don’t count as a vegetable?? Crap!

    I experienced that same panic the first time around with my 4 year old. (Where I’m from baking equates to love. How could I NOT feed the poor dear sugar and real butter? Plus, we’re vegetarian – he’s deprived enough.) Don’t worry, you will find a happy medium.

    1. See, as a Southerner, I kind of feel the same way. Smothering food with butter or salt or sugar is a friendly way of saying “I really love you. Please don’t blame me for future cholesterol problems.”

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