Posted by: Jamie Stamm | April 11, 2008

Hash browns and tea

When my daughter was born five years ago, I vowed that she was going to grow up a healthy eater.

No McDonalds, I told my girlfriends, unless it’s a special occasion, like a classmate’s birthday party. No soda. And as few sweets as we can get away with.

Everyone scoffed at us, but my husband and I did really well at first. We made all of Cera’s baby food ourselves, oftentimes from fresh produce that we bought at the farmers’ market, and we filled her sippy cups with only water, milk or watered-down juice. She loved fruits and vegetables (and still does, for the most part) and when she snacked, it was healthy – some cheese or nuts or rice cakes. In fact, Cera was probably 2 before she had her first McNugget, and after that, her exposure to fast food was only occasional.

But then we had Baby No. 2. And life became much more complicated.

It’s no longer as easy to cook every night. On Monday nights, Cera has gymnastics, and we don’t get home until nearly 8 p.m. Tuesdays are homework night. Saturdays we have soccer.

So our trips through the drive-thru have become more frequent. Nearly every Monday night, I grab Happy Meals for the kids to eat on the way home. And sometimes on the weekends, after we’ve finished our run to the grocery store and any other errands we need to accomplish, it’s most convenient to hit Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A for a quick bite to eat.

The one meal we are pretty consistent with, however, is breakfast. Both kids LOVE cereal, dry (as they eat it in the car most weekday mornings when we’re running late, which is pretty much every day) or with milk. Top it off with a bit of fresh fruit (strawberries for Cera, bananas for Anthony) and we’re good to go.

But on our drive to Sanford this morning, when Cera asked what I had brought for breakfast, cereal apparently was not what she was looking for. Nor were bananas or peanut butter or cheese crackers (the only other things I had in the car).

“How about hash browns and tea?” I said – before even realizing the words that were coming out of my mouth. I was extraordinarily hungry, and the thought of a chicken biscuit, although probably defeating my trips to the gym this week, made my mouth water.

“Hash browns and tea! Hash browns and teeeeeeea!” Cera and Anthony chanted from the backseat.

Ten minutes later, against my better judgment, we pulled into the McDonalds’ drive-thru. The line was outrageous.

“Guys, this is going to take forever. Maybe we could do McDonalds tomorrow?” I suggested.

I glanced in the rearview mirror. Cera’s bottom lip was jutting out.

And then Anthony revived the cheer.

“Hash browns and tea! Hash browns and teeeeeeea!”

As Cera joined in, I had to smile.

Just then, the line, which hadn’t progressed in minutes, started moving quickly. Before I knew it, I was placing our order and then doling out hash browns, biscuits and small cups of sweet tea to my kids.

They were all smiles as they ate their unhealthy breakfast. And I was, too.

Because sometimes you have to ignore your “good mom” instinct and do what makes your kids happy.

I just hope that at dinner tonight, they clean their plates without complaint. Because I promise you, there will not be a hash brown or drop of sweet tea in sight.



  1. Oh, Baby the Second will really fling all your best laid mommy plans right out the window. No white milk is ingested by my children, only chocolate. I have allowed many chicken-nugget-apple dipper-Happy Meals . My 6 year old plays Lego Star Wars on the PS2 whenever he can con us into it, and my 2 year old has seen way too many episodes of Max & Ruby. OH, the massive quantities of mom-guilt. But here’s the thing…I don’t think your kids or mine are any the worse for wear. They know we love them. 🙂

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