So today the kids and I went to the local farmer’s market. It’s part of our new Saturday tradition and when the season ends, I don’t know, we’ll have to return to pancakes and Car Talk unless something better presents itself… maybe a hike. I had planned on buying some cornbread with orange honey butter from a booth once we got there and while we waited in the slow line, Salamander so patient amid his energetic curiosity, the cinnamon rolls began singing a siren song to me. Then we got closer and the boy noticed them and began yelling, as he does, CAKE!, while pointing. Gah. Damn sugar addiction! My mind was addled looking at the jumbo things and I asked, “what kind of cinnamon rolls are these?” (As if it mattered.) He said they were walnut cranberry cinnamon rolls. I said “how much?” (Probably hoping the price would be more than the cornbread and would therefore deter me.) They were the same price and needless to say we (I) picked out the biggest gooey-est looking one to go with my coffee and we made way for the community tables.
So we ate the thing. I did most of the “work.” I’m a trooper like that.
Within five minutes Salamander had turned from relatively cooperative to hellion. While I was buckling Maddy back into the stroller he took off. I attempted to keep an eye on him but he zigged and zagged and was lost in the crowd in no time flat. I did not panic, perhaps because I was relieved to have a few minutes free of the beast? But also because of the crowd and location of the market. I knew he’d be caught by some well intentioned people and held for me, if they found him first. I half hoped I’d find him crying and scared for me. But no. He was smiling from ear to ear as though he were the most brilliantly clever boy since Christopher Robin. He gave me a sunflower that the ladies holding him had given him (to give to me). And I gently admonished him as he attempted to tear away again.
It was at that point that it dawned on me. Sugar. Sugar is a key culprit here. Before The Big Transition Salamander and I had pretty decent diets. He didn’t have any white sugar until his birthday cake and even after he didn’t eat it often. The last year of turmoil combined with pregnancy was hard on me though and it was therefore hard on him. I was eating more crap and so was he. My parents’ food culture and habit is not helpful. We actually have an entire cabinet (sure it’s the small one in the kitchen, but still) dedicated to junk food/candy. There are red vines, m&ms, cookies, peanut butter/chocolate balls my gawd! And now that we’re in dairyland there are custard shops on every block and ice cream has ALWAYS been my weakness. After cake, I guess.
After Maddy was born I did stick to the Paleo diet for nearly three months, and even saw some weigh loss on it. But the side effects (my gawd, the gas!) combined with a trip to a Jewish deli for bagels and lox knocked me off the wagon and I’ve been practically carb-loading ever since.
So I made the call. No. More. Sugar. It’s deleterious effects on my son are immediately apparent and it’s poisonous effects to me and my blood line are well known. I know I will not be a teetotaler about this, everything within reason, right? But it’s back to brown rice, beans and spices for us. I like vegetables and just because my parents/roommates eat a higher processed diet than I want, doesn’t mean me and my kids have to follow suit. It’s a nagging thought that won’t go away and that means it’s worth listening to. (Farmer Hogget taught me that. We watched some of “Babe” today.)
Since I’m on a parenting choices bent let me rant for a bit about the Wisconsin State Fair. It’s wacky fun. There are bazillions of things to see and do. There are foods on sticks that just should not be, lines that are ridiculous for “authentic” Wisconsin grilled cheese sandwiches and deep fried Snickers bars (which are devilishly amazing, by the by). I just don’t think the Fair is appropriate for young children, despite the large area of kids rides and miles of plastic crap marketed directly to them. It’s too much. Some kids are steeped in stimuli from the get go, and they probably fair just fine. (Yay for puns!) My kids, especially the older one, live with a Mama who appreciates the simple life and who wants things that are “every day” to be special enough to sustain over the long haul. I like hanging laundry on the line. I like making the bed. I like wiping the kitchen counters. I don’t know if that makes me odd or puts me into some kind of bizarrely modern “privileged” category. I think it makes sense in lots of relevant ways.
As the day at the fair wore on, and as Salamander ate more and more sugar and carb loaded junk, his ability to cooperate, listen and be reasonable plummeted. He could not handle it and he could not block it out. I would have had a lot more fun if they weren’t there, that’s for sure and I’m also quite certain they wouldn’t have missed it if they hadn’t gone. I think I’ll be waiting until Maddy is at least five to go back. And that’s fine. As I said with the kids at a baby sitter or something I can actually enjoy myself. I could drink beer, meander slowly through the geeky exhibits on canning that I love, go on grown up rides and dance to musical acts for as long as I want.
By the end of the night, which for us was about nine-o-clock Maddy looked shell shocked (she was wrapped up against my chest and Salamander had his hands over his ears while he cried. I took a loss on $20 worth of ride tickets unused and made for the parking lot. I was so relieved to have made that call. Attempting to squeeze in more fun would have actually more closely resembled a new level of Dante’s inferno.
So lessons learned this weekend (or remembered, as the case may be): Sugar is addictive and should be used sparingly, conscientiously and wisely. The State Fair is for people older than age five.