My Contribution to the Obesity Epidemic?

I have a confession to make.

A deep, dark confession.

Today I gave my son a piece of Rocky Road.

It was just a tiny piece.  OK, two tiny pieces.  No, three.  But they were no more than bite-sized.  He had three bites of Rocky Road.  He is eighteen months old.  Am I a bad mother?

I thought he wouldn’t like them.  I thought he would taste it, savour it for a moment and then spit it out with a look of disgust.  That’s what he does with most new foods, after all.  Instead, he tasted it, savoured it, murmured a sound of overwhelming approval, and asked for more.  Yes, he asked for more.  Like a pre-verbal Oliver Twist communicating solely through hand gestures.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  I started off with such good intentions.  I had all the weaning books, I made all the recipes.  I dutifully perused the fruit and vegetable aisle looking for new and interesting tastes for him; a selection of seasonal red berries, a mango here, a passionfruit there (a word of advice: Don’t bother giving an eight month old passionfruit.  They rarely appreciate it, and the mess is biblical).  Sometimes he would try them out, squeezing strawberries so hard that he shook, the juice oozing out of his little fists.  Other times he would turn his head away and purse his lips, indicating that no Mummy, there would be no green beans today, or ever, thank you very much.

The thing that never wavered was my resolve.  I had all the data.  Fruit drinks caused tooth decay, chocolate was for adults, a solitary slurp of ice cream was the start of a slippery slope that would inevitably end up with my darling child being lifted out of his bedroom with a crane and transported to hospital in one of those extra-large ambulances in the kind of scenario you see in Jeremy Kyle-fronted Channel 5 documentaries with tabloid names like “Bodyshock: Britain’s Fattest Man.”

Then Piglet turned one.  A bit of Sainsbury’s finest birthday cake was sourced, and the rest, as they say, is history.  It wasn’t even a homemade cake.  

A Sunday treat here and there, a little bit of ice cream and maybe the apple bits from an apple pie…

A bite of a cookie every now and then, as and when he requests it…..

And now Rocky Road.  A veritable feast of marshmallow, biscuit and chocolate all wrapped up in a tantalising but lethal package.

I knew that sooner or later this day would be upon us.  He is onto me.  He knows I eat cake, and cookies, and chocolate, and he knows that they are good.  He knows what a cup of tea is, and has added it to his expanding repertoire of known vocabulary.  He even dipped his finger in the dregs of a cup of lukewarm tea the other day, swirled it around, and tried a bit.  How long now before he is putting in his drinks order, and it’s a large latte?  And while I’m at it, I should probably hide that bottle of wine in a locked cupboard somewhere very, very high up.  I am now faced with a stark choice.  I either accept that my control over his diet is loosening, and give in to packets of Wotsits eaten inside the shopping trolley before reaching the till, or I can give up all unhealthy food for the rest of my life, and hope he follows my saintly example.

Which will it be?

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The Public Badge of Good Motherhood

Argh.  I have inadvertently trained Piglet to gaze blankly at the television as if in a hypnotic trance.

Unfortunately, this does not only happen during In the Night Garden.  This was not supposed to happen.  I was supposed to be an earth mother, all joss sticks and babywearing, giving birth blissfully  in a bathtub surrounded by candles and incense, then holding the baby aloft as if he was the future leader of a pack of lions in a Disney musical.  I was supposed to fill Piglet’s days with classical music and brain-enhancing learning activities; he was supposed to be reading fluently by the time he turned one (there’s still time…Not that he paid much attention to tonight’s bedtime story, Flitter Flutter Butterfly).  He was not supposed to be wrenched out of me by a team of medical personnel in an operating theatre, following several hours of Mummy taking all the drugs the NHS could offer.  He was not supposed to be wheeled around in a pram for eternity because it has a shopping basket underneath which is just so damn convenient for carrying around all those spare nappies and the groceries.  And he was not supposed to be sat in front of the television like a zombie, silently taking in all that ITV can offer (reader, it wasn’t even BBC4).  By the time he’s three, he’ll doubtless be asking Mummy why we can’t track down his father using a DNA test and a lie detector on Jeremy Kyle.  

I have to admit, it is useful to be able to plonk Piglet in front of the television when Mummy needs to complete some pressing task, such as eating dinner, but isn’t motherhood supposed to be about self-sacrifice?  If I was any sort of mother I would surely have relinquished all food and be living on a diet of pure maternal love, ready to abandon dinner and jump into action like a coiled spring at the first sign of baby whimpering.  If I was any sort of mother I would have gone to bed long ago, instead of still sitting here at 11.15pm with a glass of wine, desperate for a few extra minutes of self congratulation at getting Piglet to bed, before he wakes up again.

Still, I did manage to tick off one box of the middle class mother questionnaire today.  Piglet and I attended a swimming class.  OH YES.  And Piglet excelled himself by not crying AT ALL.

I should probably not crack open the champagne just yet.  After all, we have another four weeks of swimming classes for him to get hysterical and/or poo in the pool, leading to a mass evacuation (if you’ll pardon the pun).  However, I will add that Piglet’s angelic calm-baby performance occurred in front of one of the other ladies from my NCT class, who was also swimming with her baby, so at least I was able to enjoy the Public Badge of Good Motherhood for an hour or so.  Those fraught hours spent searching Westfield for a reusable baby swim nappy yesterday were put to good use.

At least I appear to be keeping up a charade of reasonable competence at this job in public, even if in private Piglet is spending (considerably) more than the recommended upper limit of half an hour per day on television watching (as decreed by a poster in Wembley Children’s Centre).

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When does the nesting instinct kick in?

Yet again I am engaged in the deadly habit of procrastination.  Why is it that every time the holidays roll around I fool myself into thinking that if I do one productive thing per day-just one-then the entire day has been a success?  Today’s “productive task” consisted of emailing some photos that I had promised to a friend; a task which, even at 26 weeks pregnant and rapidly expanding, was hardly taxing.  Well done me, I sent an email.  Meanwhile the flat remains in the sort of state that would have even the stars (contestants?  Victims?  “Stars” scarcely seems accurate) of the Jeremy Kyle Show ringing social services.

In fact, several of the participants on today’s show had the accusation levelled at them that they couldn’t be good parents (mothers.  It’s always the mothers.  No one ever chides the men for being poor homemakers.  Not even Jeremy, who chides them for pretty much everything else) because their houses were “a tip.”

Hmm.  I have the shattered remains of a cardboard box lying on the floor next to the dishwasher which formerly housed a piece of furniture I had delivered in February.  FEBRUARY.  Well, chopping it up into little bits so that it fits into the recycling chute requires effort.

Apparently, according to one of my books on hypnobirthing, just before a woman gives birth she suddenly develops a “nesting instinct,” and runs fretfully around the house, cleaning and prepping everything in sight for the arrival of the baby.  I so wish this would happen to me.  At the moment I can’t even be bothered to change the sheets on the bed (requires effort) and have been running the tumble dryer on repeat all day under the pretext that the clothes in there are not quite dry and so the washing machine cannot yet be freed up for cleaning sheets.  This is not because I don’t want my sheets to be clean-everyone loves a clean sheet-but because I cannot bear the task of trying to stretch a fresh one over the bed, or worse, the horror of changing the duvet cover, the thought of which is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat.  This is why I need a husband.  I promise I will cook every meal he ever requires if he promises to change the bedclothes in perpetuity.

As my mother would say, in the verbal equivalent of shaking an accusatory finger at me, “You had better get this flat sorted out when the baby comes my girl.”