Summer is in full swing, and two baby boys are still cooking and ready to enter this world in just a couple of short months! (And not before then, please. Keep growing boys, and stay in there!) Summer is so much better than the school year, and a large part of that is the “no school” part (for me). I felt so much pressure all year to have the girls reading “better”, writing “better”, and constantly living up to some outside standard. So many outside standards, in fact, it was making my head spin! The standard at summer camp is pretty simple… respect others, respect property, for god’s sake eat at least part of your lunch/don’t whine about how hungry you are later when you didn’t eat any lunch, and have fun!!!
I see so much growth in M, already. The freedom from being locked up in a classroom full of academic expectations has allowed so much of the best of who she is to come out. I’m not saying she’s a little angel suddenly, or that her special needs went away. We’re just not constantly shoving her square peg into anyone’s round hole! Another area of growth we’ve discovered (and discussed as parents, ad nauseam) is her ability to eat “junk food” without staying up for 36 hours on end, jumping off walls with glazed-over eyes. And thank god, because at 6 years old, away at summer camps, I just can’t micromanage what she eats. And my intensely social child wants to eat what everyone else is eating, which happens to be red koolaid and goldfish.
So we are allowing her to control what she eats outside of our home, with the understanding that our family does not buy or cook with or serve artificial dye, but these foods may be available at events. She has basically done what any hyper-controlled kid does when they are allowed to eat something forbidden… stuffed her face with as many ice-pops, cookies, and goldfish as she can get her hands on. And honestly, I’ve been waiting for the axe to fall… for freaking out, long restless nights, tantrums out of the ordinary. But nothing. She’s eaten it. Boldly stated she’s eaten it, to see what we’d do. Then we’ve gone about our business pretty much as usual.
So, apparently I no longer have to be the ultra-uncool uptight parent at every party and festival guarding my child against food dyes like my full-night’s sleep depends on it! Hooray! (In case it isn’t clear, though, I thoroughly disapprove of artificial dyes in any type of food or drink, and will continue to support brands and companies that use natural ingredients with all my dollars and words.) But if you didn’t know, schools and camps do a terrible job of guarding kids with food allergies from said foods, and I’m super glad that I don’t need to go ape-shit every time I find out my kid put a piece of candy in her mouth!
My hope is that, in time, this forbidden stuff will no longer seem so great to her, and she will internalize our family’s overall values of healthy, clean foods. Right now, though, I just have to squeeze my eyes shut and be a model through example. It’s the best way with the least immediate results!