veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breakfast Boy and Grumpy Girl

Breakfast Boy and Grumpy Girl - that’s pretty much how it breaks down at my house every morning. I’m not commenting on a universal truth about boys versus girls. I am sure there are plenty of families with Get-Up Girls and Bed-Head Boys. But in our house my husband and my son wake up and immediately eat a big breakfast while my daughter and I need a little time to adjust to the fact that we are no longer sleeping. I think we are all wired differently when it comes to waking up in the morning.

According to many sources, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I completely agree. But I also think the person who researched that one is a morning person. I’m not saying breakfast isn’t important, because it is. I just think with little kids we also need to recognize that different kids have different body-clocks. I am sure there is a more technical term for this, but I have noticed that not all kids consume food in the same way at the same time of day.

Let’s take my 3-year-old son, for example. He wakes up at around 7:00am and immediately comes into our room, demanding milk. Then he goes back in his bedroom, turns on his light, removes his pajamas, throws his pull-up in the trash can, chooses clothes to wear and gets dressed. Then he marches back into our bedroom (I have returned to a horizontal, under the covers position after getting my son a cup of milk), and says he is hungry. I give him a banana and then he sometimes comes back for a second one.

By now I am up and shuffling around with my eyes half open. “I want to help make your coffee, mommy,” my son says to me. I nod in agreement. My son stands up on his stool at the kitchen counter and counts the spoonfuls of coffee as he fills up the filter of my coffee pot. Then I’ll make him some toast and he will insist on spreading the cream cheese or butter all by himself. As he is munching down his toast, my husband comes into the kitchen, freshly showered and dressed. He sits down at the kitchen table for breakfast. My son comes running and the two of them have a bowl of cereal side by side.

By now I am slightly more awake because at least I am finally sipping my mug of coffee. As my husband and son are chatting away between spoonfuls, I notice a droopy 5-year-old leaning against the wall with her thumb in her mouth and her favorite blanket half over her face. It’s my daughter who has heard our bustle and slowly stumbled from her bed to the kitchen.

“Good morning, would you like some chocolate milk?” I ask her.
“Uh,” she grunts back at me.

I get her. She needs to sit in her pajamas for at least 30 minutes before getting dressed and she can’t talk until she’s had a glass of chocolate milk. Oh, and then there’s breakfast. My daughter has a very difficult time eating before 10:00am. I get that. I prefer to drink my coffee and THEN think about what to eat for breakfast.

What about that most important meal of the day? Do I let my Grumpy Girl skip it just because her grumpy mom feels her pain? My day can’t wait for Grumpy Girl to transform into Agreeable Angel. Even if I make her come to the kitchen table to eat breakfast, most of the time she just sits there and stares at it. It’s simply too early and she hasn’t gotten moving enough yet to eat. It is as if her digestive system, sense of smell and taste are still asleep. That’s not something I can fight and win.

As a parent of a Grumpy Girl, I choose not to fight my daughter’s body clock but to work around it. My breakfast solution is to let her eat a little later, when she is ready. If later means when we are on the move, then so be it. I always try to get my daughter to sit down and have a bowl of cereal, which she does on occasion. But if she simply can’t, then I pack her a breakfast to go. My favorite breakfast-on-the-go solutions are dry cereal without the milk and milk in a to-go cup or a breakfast sandwich of toast with cream cheese and some fruit. Even a regular old peanut butter and jelly sandwich also does the trick.

This gives Grumpy Girl time to adjust to the daylight without missing out on a little nutrition and energy before going about her day. I simply take the breakfast with us and let her eat it on the go as she gets hungry. Oh wait, I forgot. I also take a matching to-go-breakfast for my son, Breakfast Boy, for whom one breakfast is never enough.

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