I haven't figured this out yet . . .
It’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up my bad habits. I used to be able to disguise my bad habits from G, even if I was doing them right in front of him. But, as my children get older, they get smarter. A lot smarter. The jump in intelligence from month to month during the toddler years has to be far greater than any other time period in a person’s life.
Most days, G will come home from school and have a snack. It’s usually something leftover from his lunch, and if not, then he has a piece of fruit or some crackers, but nothing too sweet. The most sugar G gets is from watered down juice or applesauce. The point is that it’s usually something that I wouldn’t consider junk food; things like chips, or candy.
I’m not a big fan of candy, but occasionally I go a little nuts with it, especially if it’s a candy from my childhood that I haven’t had for a while. My wife brought home some Airheads, which I hadn’t had in a really long time. Ok, they’re not the greatest candy but I was hungry this afternoon and didn’t feel like having anything substantial.
The mistake I made was to eat an Airhead in front of G, just as I was asking him if he wanted a snack. Naturally, he saw what I was eating and asked me what it was and if he could have some. And the following conversation is why you should never eat junk food in front of your children . . . or, do anything you don’t want them doing themselves.
Me: “G, what do you want for your snack?”
G: “I want my applesauce from lunch.”
Me: “Ok, go sit down at the table.”
As he takes his seat at the table, he sees me take a huge bite out of my watermelon Airhead.
G: “Daddy, what’s that you’re eating?”
Me: “Uhh. It’s junk food.”
G: “It’s junk food? Can I share some of your junk food with you?”
Me: “Umm. No. You eat your applesauce.”
G: “But I want to share with you.”
Me: “I would share with you, but this is junk food. It’s not good for you.”
G: “Why you eating it?”
Me: “Uhh. Here, just eat your applesauce.”
G: “But I love junk food.”
Me: (thinking) “uh oh.”
G: “I love junk food.”
Me: “No, junk food is bad for you. It fills you up so you can’t eat stuff that’s good for you.”
G: “I can’t eat stuff that’s good for me? But I love junk food.”
Me: “Well, your applesauce is junk food (thinking: Darn, I really shouldn’t have said that. Please don’t eat it just because you think it’s junk food).”
G: “My applesauce not junk food, daddy. It’s not junk food.”
Me: (thinking: Thank goodness) “You’re right, daddy shouldn’t have said that.”
G: “Ok daddy. You want to share my applesauce with you?”
I feel like a bad father for blatantly lying to my son’s face about applesauce being junk food, but I justified it at the time considering how much sugar it has. Hey, when you’re in a tight spot, sometimes you’ll try anything to get out of it. I really dodged a bullet there by not having G throw a fit and demand to have some junk food.
What really bothered me about today was the fact that I wasn’t aware enough to eat the candy when my son was wanting some food and standing right in front of me. And then, the embarrassment of my son telling me that he was not about to eat junk food. Apparently, eating Airheads may very well turn you into an airhead.
I mean, judging by the conversation, my son is clearly more intelligent than I am. He used to be gullible, which was why I could get away with outsmarting him, but he’s less and less gullible as he ages. I can already see it; one day I’ll be the parent who’s constantly being outsmarted by his children.
Let this be a lesson to all you less experienced parents out there: beware of what you do and say around your children because they pick things up faster than you realize.