When my kids were in elementary school, I remember coming home from a grocery shopping trip and rearranging an entire cupboard to accommodate all of the juice boxes I had bought. I had to shove aside my pastas, rices and fancy olive oils to make way for endless rows of Juicy Juices, Capri Suns and Minute Maids. I stood back and admired my creation for more time than I want to admit.
My kids are older now — my youngest has just turned 20 (wow) — and I’m realizing I miss seeing those juice boxes in my cupboard.
I didn’t appreciate it then, but there was a certain joy I got out of knowing what my kids wanted and needed to eat, and being able to provide it. It was another way of showing my love for them. Even it it was in the form of a completely anal-retentive tower of kid food.
Now, my shopping list is guided more by my adult children’s text messages, rather than what I think is going to fuel their growing brains and bodies. Can you pick up more coffee creamer? and Another bag of Hot Cheetos, please flicker across my phone, and it’s like the hours I spent studying parenting articles about the food pyramid and lessons on packing a healthy lunch have fallen by the wayside.
Admittedly give in. Because providing their favorite foods means I’m still providing for them, only in a different way.
(And of course they get those Cheetos along with the veggies and fruits and sandwich stuff and everything else that still goes into my cart so I can feed them when they’re home.)
I hear younger parents complain and commiserate about having to shop for their kids — hunting down food for a picky eater, searching for creative ideas for the fifth school bake sale of the year, or stocking up for another classmate-packed birthday party. I hear you. You’re entitled. But I want to tell you that like so many things when your kids are little, this will be a distant memory soon.
Take a minute to enjoy the chore of being able to shop for your kids — even when you feel like having to scour the cases for the only brand of string cheese they’ll eat is going to break you. Because someday, you just might get a little teary eyed at the sight of a tiny little juice box, too.