Another first

Girl from the East is on the verge of six.

Her life thus far has been a series of milestones, from the subtle shifts that hatch a toddler from a baby, to the major leap from preschool to elementary school. She’s reading chapter books, writing words independently, and balancing on a two-wheeled bicycle.

One so-called rite of passage that has escaped her experience is the fast-food kids meal, particularly the McDonald’s Happy Meal.

My Girl is picky.

I am picky.

Most of us in this household do not eat meat. The rest eat it rarely. Unless we are on a road trip or desperate, we avoid fast food restaurants. When we do go, Girl eats french fries and those clever apple fries they serve at Burger King.

So, when fellow blogger Melissa invited me to take part in an event to launch and critique the new Happy Meal**, I figured Girl from the East would be a great candidate. She wouldn’t know a new Happy Meal from an old one.

I worried I’d be opening a can of worms. After all, I don’t want her to become a Happy Meal addict, like Girl from the West was for a while. (Oh, the mistakes of first-time parenting.)  I reasoned that since she’s waited this long, and since I explained this visit was a special event, it would be no big deal.

Once we arrived at the restaurant, which featured one of those indoor play structures, Girl kicked off her shoes and socks and leaped on the structure like a caged monkey set free. While she ran, jumped, and swung around overhead, I nursed a medium coffee.

When the meals in a box arrived, Girl easily chugged two kid-sized chocolate milk bottles. (Not the first time in her life.) She ate all the packaged apple slices and swiped some of the grapes and apples from my fruit salad. She ate most of the scaled-down fries and some of the chicken nuggets. Then it was back to playing air hockey with the kids.

I’m still wary of overly processed and packaged foods. Even after this experience, I’ll be limiting our visits to the we-need-to-burn-off-some-energy-and-it’s-too-cold-outside-for-the-park kind of days.

My take on the new meal? Four apples slices are not enough. My girl eats a whole apple in one sitting. Why skimp on the “healthy” part of this meal, Mickey D’s? Why not offer carrot sticks or sliced bell peppers, too? Oh, and stop with all the packaged dipping sauces. At least a few fruit, vegetable, yogurt, and oatmeal options on the menu justify a return visit to the playscape.

Here’s the bottom line: A fast food restaurant is what it is. I’ll give them credit for trying. After all, if you want your child to eat healthfully, you obviously make other choices. McDonald’s isn’t going to become McWholeFoods is it? My experience in parenting teaches me that what children are given to eat becomes the norm. If junk food options are removed from the menu, then they are not eaten and are quickly forgotten.  With both of my girls, it was not until they began spending time around their peers in a school setting that they began craving and demanding candy, juice boxes, and other treats.

So far, Girl hasn’t asked for another Happy Meal.

The best part of this event? Girl burned off all that energy and fell asleep in the car on the way home. Early dinner. Early to bed. Easy night.

Happy mom.

** Speaking of new things, this is my fist disclosure disclaimer. I was not paid to write this review. I participated upon invitation by another blogger and was given a $10 gift card and a tote bag with discount food coupons for eating and critiquing the new menu options for McDonald’s restaurants.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The sweetest thing

During a much-needed mom’s night out with wine, food, and good conversation I learned that the A word and my Girl from the East came up with one of the families from our school.

Adoption arose as part of a much larger context, one encircling the areas of family resemblance, dominant traits, and individual uniqueness. It seems too complex for the preschool set, but now is the time when our children’s eyes open even wider to notice such things as tallness, blondeness, bigness, and differentness.

Specifically, the question of what makes boys different from girls, and how African-American kids in the class look different from the Caucasian kids led to how some families are tall and thin and some are short and wide and how some kids have two daddies or two mommies or some other defining trait.

“Like your friend, (Girl from the East),” the mother explained to my daughter’s playmate. “You’ve noticed she looks different from her mother. That’s because she’s adopted.”

“She doesn’t look different from her mom,” my daughter’s friend insisted.

“Well, yes, she was born in China. She is Chinese,” the mom continued.

“Noooo,” the young friend asserted, shaking her head. “She looks just like her mom.”

My heart warmed as I listened to this story.

That is the sweetest thing.

It never occurred to me that we could be regarded in that way, even if it is through the rose-colored lens of youth.

This is, of course, the portrait of our love for each other; we are blind to our differences. I think Girl from the East has my husband’s eyes and disposition. I know she has my penchant for perfection.  I don’t know where she ends and I begin.

When I look at my girl’s smooth cheeks, inky black eyes, and cupid’s bow mouth, I see our history reaching all the way back to that smoky, crowded government office in Nanchang, China, when I first accepted her slight form into my arms. Her long limbs, elegant fingers,  and thick, silky hair remind me of her birth family as none of us possess those traits.

It occurred to me that it has been years — years! — since anyone has asked any of us if we belong together. In the beginning, it was a constant affront.

And now, the court of opinion has grown to include  one very astute five-year-old.

That is the sweetest thing.

Enhanced by Zemanta