Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Part of a Nutritious Breakfast

I don't know why, but I thought making breakfast for my kids would be easy.

My childhood breakfasts consisted of leftovers from the previous nights' dinner (invariably, Chinese food) -- my parents ignored my pleas for "normal" breakfast items like Froot Loops and Pop Tarts (both, I reminded my mom and dad, are part of a nutritious breakfast, goddammit). "When I grow up," I seethed, "I'm going to let my kids eat WHATEVER THEY WANT."

It's obvious now that I jinxed myself.

I start each morning with high hopes that my four-year-old will feel like eating something easy to prepare. And by "prepare," I mean "dump into a bowl."

He, on the other hand, approaches breakfast like a seasoned hostage negotiator. Or hostage-taker.

Crossing my fingers, I shoot first, with an all-too-cheery "How 'bout some cereal for breakfast?"

"What else do you have?" he fires back.

"This isn't a restaurant." I inform him. He stares at me blankly, expectantly -- a well-honed tactic to elicit an offer of a breakfast alternative. It works. "You can have toaster waffles," I add, reaching for the freezer.

"Nah. What else?" He adds a sweet smile. Cunning.

I roll my eyes. "Nothing else. That's all we got, buddy."

"Okay, then I won't eat anything."

That won't do; my wife would have my head. Conceding defeat, I mutter: "How about a scrambled egg?"

"OH-kaaay, but with toast. HALF a piece of toast. And not too crunchy -- it has to be kind of crunchy, but still a little soft. And I want to scramble the egg."

He does, and I cook it. I cut and toast the bread. I load it on a SpongeBob plate. It is as perfect as I can make it.

"Daddy, you didn't cut up my egg!"

I cut it to ribbony shreds with the edge of a fork, and set the plate down again. "Eat!" I command.

He sits and stares at his breakfast, expressionless, motionless. Finally, he sighs: "Nah. I'm not hungry." Pause. "I want a banana and some cheese. Cheddar cheese, not string cheese. You gave me string cheese last time, and I hate it."

As our early morning stalemate continues, our nineteen-month-old stands up, having wriggled free of his high chair restraining belt. He starts screeching and flicking Cheerios onto the floor, demanding fruit. "FWOOT. FWOOT. FWOOT." (This kid is, we've decided, a lacto-carbo-fruitarian: He ingests nothing but dairy products, simple white carbs and fruit. He disdains vegetables and meat; if we try to hide a speck of chicken or a pea under a spoonful of macaroni, he spits it out.) Finally, he settles for a few grapes, a sippy cup of milk, a piece of his brother's uneaten toast, and a handful of almonds.

His big brother, meanwhile, has finally eaten a couple of bites of his scrambled egg, and has devoured an entire banana. He's also munched on the Cheerios left on his baby brother's tray.

On the plus side, I suppose the kids are getting what they need for breakfast: "a combination of a healthy carbohydrate that offers fiber and a protein food." According to nutritionists, picky kids don't have to eat traditional breakfast items; rather:

Leftover beans and salsa or a grilled cheese and turkey bacon sandwich on whole-wheat bread with a piece of fruit on the side are other good choices; even leftovers of lean meat or chicken from last night’s dinner, along with toast and fruit, do the job. Nut-butter sandwiches are great if made with higher-fiber breads and low-sugar fruit spreads.
So guess who's having breadsticks, cream cheese and prunes tomorrow morning?


Mama Nabi said...

I, too, have a child who demands a proper breakfast. Eggs. Pancakes. Crepes. Oatmeal. Sometimes bananas. It's a pain in the butt since I went YEARS without eating breakfast. Now if I can get her to eat dinner... hm, maybe every meal should be breakfast.

Anonymous said...

i've been guilty of letting the kids have CUPCAKES for breakfast (minus the frosting) . . . i mean think about it - it can't be that much worse than fruity pebbles (r) or sugar smacks (r).

@ mama nabi: my son's mind was BLOWN when we had breakfast for dinner one night - he refused to eat. "mom, it's DARK outside, like night time. we can't eat bacon and pancakes . . ."

Soccer Dad said...

I've found that offering a choice gets them to commit to a breakfast item, e.g. "Do you want waffle or toast?" and "Do you want egg or cereal?" Or a tricky one is "Do you want one or two waffles?" My son loves to make decisions so this helped him commit to eat breakfast. of course, it helps to not be sleep-deprived. :p

thisislarry said...

@angie: there's a whole classic Bill Cosby skit on chocolate cake for breakfast! it's the best: "Daaad is GREAT! He gave us CHOCOLATE CAKE!"

Anonymous said...

I hear you on the Rightous Breakfast Opinions. My daughter hands back bananas if they have a single "yukky spot". Still, I do what Soccer Dad talks about: I offer up choices. Like - do you want a boiled egg or a scrambled egg? Square toast ot triangle toast? Angry mommy or happy mommy? Lol.

It works for now but she's only 3.5 so time will tell....

Great post, btw.

Cheers from Korea ...Z

Dennis Yu said...

Wow, your kid has you well trained! Can you be my dad so I can demand whatever I want for breakfast!

By the way, you're #40 on top dad blogs for

Obiwanhavanese said...

I wish my son would ask me for a proper breakfast. For a long while we would alternate between french toast, pancakes (cookie cutter fun shapes), and toaster waffles as a main and some type of fruit for a side. Now all he wants are the toaster waffles with cereal clusters on the side. Only on one occasion has he eaten scrambled eggs, but refuses it every time now. I'd cook him a proper breakfast everyday if only he would only eat it.

Testosterblogger said...

I like to start every morning with a "what do you want for breakfast?" question. The kids always start with "chicken nuggets and tater tots," work their way to pancakes, then eggs, and if I'm lucky eventually to raisin bran. Then, I can just sip my coffee and wait for them to ask me for a snack about 10 minutes after finishing their meals.

thisislarry said...

bigWOWO: I once read an interview with Halle Berry where she said something like "if it wasnt for cheerios and bananas my kids would starve!"

Which made me feel better when my kids were in that phase. If hip hollywood stars cant get their kids beyond cheerios, then I can cut myself some slack.