Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Choices for Breakfast

We had a really busy weekend. Lil had a performance at Heartlands in Ellicott City for Ballet Mobile at which she did her newly learned role of the Chinese dancer in the Nutcracker. For dinner, we attended Iron Bridge Wine Company's annual Charles Dickens' party with "A Christmas Carol" readings and Victorian-costumed a cappella singers.

Lil got to bed around 10, which isn't really a problem usually. But she was tired & she didn't set her alarm. I didn't realize she wasn't awake, so she didn't get up until 8:15. The bus comes at 8:50-8:55, so she didn't have much time. She didn't eat breakfast at home on Monday.

As my friend Tom wrote, Howard County lags behind in providing school breakfast to low-income students. More on that in a second.

My daughter is failure-to-thrive, meaning she fell off the growth charts at some point...I think she was 3 years old. At the time, it meant that we had to take her to the doctor for monthly weigh-ins, supplement her with Pediacare and overall, stress out about her weight. She's almost 11 now, but given the fact she dances 10-12 hours per week, gaining weight is nearly impossible. She's been tested for lead poisoning and other abnormalities, but nothing's shown a problem. Her endocrinologist is pretty conservative and doesn't see much wrong with her. A child who really is FTT has no energy, may be anemic and is not always intellectually developed. So her endocrinologist's advice - let her eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.

Breakfast is typically her best meal of the day. On weekends, she'll have several waffles or pancakes. On weekdays, cereal, sans milk (I know). Lunch & dinner might be smaller. So breakfast is the focus.

Back to Tom's post, there are several schools that provide breakfast to the entire school regardless of income level. Lil's school is one of those. There is no stigma and there is no hurry because the breakfast cart goes to the classroom. They have some cereals, fruit, milk and maybe yogurt, but she doesn't like anything on the cart.

When Lil told me she'd overslept, I said "Well, eat something you don't like from the breakfast cart." She replied "How can I eat something I don't like?"

That exchange stuck with me the whole day. I don't blame her for her choosiness and I'm not mad at her for eschewing "yucky" food. She should be grateful that she had an option though.

But what stuck with me was that she has the choice to say no to the breakfast cart almost every single day.

A lot of her classmates don't have that choice. If they say no to that breakfast cart everyday, they'll be hungry. And when you're hungry, it's a lot harder to be picky.

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