Okay Internets, I need some help.
About a week ago, Elliot’s teacher asked me if he could start eating the lunches the center provides for the older kids. He’d been munching on the fruits and veggies that accompany the meals for a while, but she wanted to know if he could start having the entrée as well. She mentioned that most parents start letting their kids have the center meals around this age in preparation for their move to the toddler room when they are one year old. I was hesitant because we’ve been so conservative in expanding his diet thus far, but I’ve also worried we are doing him a disservice by not exposing him to more foods and I figured that if they were willing to give him a variety of pre-made, kid-friendly foods, that was probably something we should take advantage of. So I said okay, with some restrictions (no dairy of any kind, no nuts or nut butters, no honey, no fish) and asked them to be very specific in letting me know what he eats each day.
The first day he ate the center lunch, he had a hotdog. *Gulp* It was cut up into little pieces so no choking hazard but geez, let’s jump straight to the holy grail of processed foods, shall we? The next day he ate a baked potato with bacon. Yesterday, he had a jelly sandwich (no PB for him) and refused all fruits and vegetables. (Um, duh.) He had to skip the mac and cheese and tuna sandwich days. I’ve been informed that today’s lunch will be “Beanie Weenies” which consists of hotdogs and baked beans. (I had to ask. Another mom laughed at me.)
I’m freaking out a little bit and we're considering putting the kibosh on the center lunches. In addition to me not being thrilled about the fact that he IS eating these not-so-wholesome foods, I’m also really concerned about what he is NOT eating now: all veggies and most fruits. He’s always been an awesome eater, but since he’s been exposed to the dark side, if you will, he’s been refusing his healthier (read: boring) foods at home. He’s also had a cold for the past few days, so that could be messing with his appetite, but when we offer him the closest thing we give him to a treat (veggie pirate’s booty), he gobbles it up as if he’s half-starved.
I worry that I’m being overly neurotic about this. One of the things I have found the most value in about having E in daycare is that I have daily access to child development professionals who know my kid and know what he probably is/isn’t ready for. They’ve given us tips that have helped us tremendously and I really value their input. So on the one hand, I kind of feel like if they think this food is good enough for him, it probably is. They’re relatively progressive and I generally agree with their philosophies on keeping kids happy and healthy. I feel the same way about the other parents and all of their kids eat the stuff. On the other hand, I’m starting to wonder if their food options (which come from an outside source) are the one thing that is out of sync with the center's M.O. My speshul snowflake has thus far only eaten mostly-organic, mostly-homemade real foods and it makes me feel a little icky to think of him tumbling head-first into the land of sodium, preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup.
What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Be brutally honest, please. If your opinion is, “Yes, K, you’re being one of Those Moms and you need to relax and accept that your kid is going to eat all that stuff and worse but his body will handle it,” then I want to hear it. Truly. I don’t want him to be the weird kid at school whose parents won’t let him eat anything good, but I also want his food to provide him with protein and vitamins and actual substance. He’s got my genes so there’s a good chance he will struggle with his weight at some point. I’d like to do my part by at least trying to imprint him with a preference for good, healthy foods now. But I can’t compete with a jelly sandwich. On white bread, I’m sure. *cringe*
So lay it on me. For reals. Thanks in advance. :-)