Monday, 31 January 2011

Set the table. Prepare for war.

A management term describing how new products can become overcomplicated.
From Wikipedia - "Viewed over a longer time period, extra or unnecessary features 
seem to "creep into" the system, beyond the initial goals." That would be my life, then.

If you are a child with physical disabilities, it is necessary to find your own way in which to rebel. You may still be able to march (or crawl) off in a strop, but pretty soon you are going to need someone to help you with a basic task and the effect is lost.

Early on, the Eldest Latte chose her battlefield - the meal table. Breakfast time particularly combined the stress of a time deadline along with the early-morning grumpiness of her parents. It was the perfect time for blood - and milk - to be spilt.

I've tried some things I didn't think I'd ever try. Sweet syrup in milk. Sugary cereals. I've pared it down now to a few more-or-less healthy choices, like Rice Krispies or porridge drenched in demerara sugar. But I'd no longer turn my nose up at anyone's choice of breakfast like I may have done when she was a baby and I had my naive ideas about how healthy things were going to be.

It's easy to judge as a parent. But let me tell you, the parents who would rather die than let their child drink a Fruit Shoot are not the parents who have measured their child's fluid intake over a normal week and found it to be less than a litre.

The other week I went to Kelloggs for a parent blogging event and realised that I'm more than happy with my compromises. Especially when you consider that one in six children under sixteen don't even eat breakfast - and the proportion gets higher in the 11-16 age bracket which Eldest is rapidly approaching. Instead, £646m a year is spent by children buying sweets, snacks and fizzy drinks on the way to school.

The Grandmother has always said that any breakfast is better than no breakfast, and of course she's right. Chocolate cereal at weekends? I can live with that.

In the interests of integrity, I should let you know that Kelloggs gave me presents including an apron, a box of chocolate cereal that doesn't make your teeth immediately fall out, and another box of cereal with my picture on the front. And they allowed me to make my own cereal - the rather lovely box of Feature Creep at the top of this post. It's meant to be a scary mutant appearing around the box. The similarity to a frog prince is entirely due to lack of talent.


  1. My son, who has cerebral palsy, is also a breakfast rebel ! Takes a...g...e...s... to eat one piece of toast. Teeth cleaning is a barrel of laughs too, as I watch time tick by, knowing the school bus will be here soon...
    Nightmare !
    Fruitshoot is better than no drink at all ! He does drink water under duress though. ;0)

  2. Thankfully breakfast isn't our problem. Whilst fussy about particular types, they get through loads. In fact, just this morning Miss 9 was told off for having too much - when the volume of cereal visible above the rim of the bowl equals the volume below the rim IT'S TOO FULL.
    Other meals, however, are a choice between which child I want complaining.

  3. Planetcoops I have both problems - Littlest will eat three separate breakfasts, and still be howling along the road to school about how there wasn't time for any more toast.

  4. You should have called it Frog Prince! And put a little crown in the bottom! Well done, you! Fabulous parenting! And all before morning coffee during the respite of school- impeccable! You deserve pints of gin and tonic- important to keep your own fluid levels up....

  5. you do get to go to some fun things! I have a friend whose child will only eat pancakes for breakfast, it's that or nothing.... she makes them every morning before school, my children would starve, I could never be that efficient..... and I am VERY thankful there are no shops between home and school.

  6. Funny, and considering the situation - any breakfast works - good on you for seeing perspective. The cereal box is GOLD! xx

  7. all my childhood life, growing up in Italy, I've had either biscuits dunk in milk and/or Nutella on bread.

    I have healthy teeth and I'm not overweight.

    You do what you gotta do, my friend.

  8. I am more relaxed aboiut breakfast now than I ever was. Everying in moderation my feature creeeping friend

  9. Fully agree with you on how your perspective changes as you gain experience as a parent. It's very easy to judge other parents when (a) you are not a parent yourself, or (b) your child is not yet at the age/stage of the child whose parents you are judging, or (c) your child is not the seemingly perfect child being brought up by those other parents.

    It's sad that mothers are so quick to judge each other, often harshly, when we have ALL been in the situation (many times, for many of us) where we've had to compromise on something with a headstrong child in order not to spend the entire day struggling over it, or to get the child to DRINK something, in this case.

    Think what a lovely place the world would be if we all just minded our own business and encouraged other mothers with a silent nod of empathy. Whenever I see someone out in public, dealing with a tantrum-throwing child, I just send a little prayer for peace in their direction, and am thankful it's not me - THIS time.

    Then again, there ARE the parents who deserve a smack upside the head, such as those who routinely provide unlimited soda to their toddlers, or leave them at home alone, or similar negligence. But most of us are just trying to raise 'em right!

    LOVE the Feature Creep box.

  10. I do like your lizard monster and his sequins, but mostly I want to see the coffee lady cereal, mostly.

  11. I know it may make me sound like a genius but I've never argued about food. If it wasn't in the house (Froot Loops) they didn't have it. If dinner was chicken and rice and they didn't eat it, they didn't eat it.
    (They are all very skinny men now.)I was never a genius. I was lazy. I did, I think, let them each pick a moderately crappy cereal when they were about 5. It empowered them. Youngest is 16 and, presently, is very fond of crappy food. I figure he'll come around.
    Oldest never had refined sugar or white flour (until he was about ten) and he seems no healthier or well-adjusted than the rest of them.

  12. It's rather a relief to find someone else who doesn't feed their children only whole grain unsweetened cereals and freshly squeezed juices. Generally I am in the "homemade and healthy as much as is humanly possible" camp, but most emphatically not at breakfast time. Besides, I can hardly moan at them when I'm scarfing down a bowl of golden Syrup flavoured Oats so Simple.

  13. I am that parent who would rather die than let their child drink fruitshoots. Sorry. I don't think I've ever noticed how much they drink which probably makes me a worse mother than one who gives their kids fruitshoots.

    Not sure whether my kids are unfussy and uncomplaining eaters because I've made them that way or because that's how they are made. It helps that I've always liked cooking -even at breakfast (pancakes and such). Mind you most of our breakfasts are liberally doused in golden syrup, and there is an awful lot of cake around the place.

  14. Spot on post. We allow Frosties at weekends and Second Born has been known to buy Milk Chocolate Crunchy Nut Clusters with his pocket money to eat over the week instead of sweets (hey, he's getting milk and some fibre with his chocolate that way, which he wouldn't if he bought a bag full of Wispas instead!)

  15. Um, dude? This is all great and all, but WHERE IS THE PICTURE OF YOU ON THE CEREAL BOX?

    Oops. Sorry. I yelled.

    P.S. Little Lad ate a slice of pie for breakfast the other day.

  16. Husband has still not forgiven me for suggesting we shouldn't have sugar on our cereal in front of the children so they wouldn't know it was a possibility... Since they are now teenagers I am simply grateful that they eat breakfast even if it is pain au chocolat and a glass of water for one, and Shreddies without milk but a glass of OJ for the other. 'Everything in moderation' is my mantra.

  17. Yes. I now snort at my carrot stick waving self, from when mine were little(r).
    Breakfast is OK at ours, it's dinner (supper? tea? after 13 years in this country I still don't know what to call it..) that's the problem. They're on schooldinners now, with sandwiches in the evening, because 'That way we don't have to eat your cooking.' Right. So I add some more garlic and chillies and lemon and what not and eat the most wonderful tasty meals (sometimes, anyway), they have sandwiches, and I sanctimoniously get to call it Letting Go.

  18. Hausfrau - now you've said 'pain au chocolat' I can think of nothing else.

    Oh Jannette! how evil they are! Mind you, I do love Fridays when mine have school dinners and I can just sit them in front of a film with a sandwich after swimming and go and make a nice curry for myself and Mr C...

  19. God it's so HARD to watch the sugar intake for kids today. Or colourings, or corn syrup!
    Actually, it's too hard for all of us.
    So, must give and take. Can't fight all the time and can't give in all the time.
    THat's my point of view.

  20. And it's a good point of view, Paola. I have missed out completely on corn syrup, I think. I don't THINK I'm consuming it...

  21. Breakfast is about the only meal where everyone is happy. We have fried egg sandwiches most days. I know its not considered the "healthy option" any more but, its fast and, like I said, everyone is happy with it, so its a winner!

  22. Totally off topic - I love your feature creep creature, and tomorrow in my meeting where I know it wil start happening, I will just smile as I think of your lizard. Thank you.

  23. What a great read, thank you for sharing, mmmm very interesting

  24. Helen - Mr Coffee would probably rather be at your house. Got any bacon?

  25. Growing up on the farm, mom made oatmeal, or cream of wheat or fried eggs and toast, or there was cold cereal; but breakfast was BIG, my dad eating 6 eggs at once.
    So my mantra was "Eat your breakfast!"
    Now, it's "Hooray for toast with butter!"
    As long as they've eaten SOMETHING before they walk out the door...

  26. I gave up fighting about food when MasterM was 1 year old. He was stronger than me.

    Who cares if he lives on Percy Pigs and Irn Bru? I am sure it is just a phase. Admittedly, it has lasted for the past 20 years but I am confident he will grow out of it eventually.


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