Monday, October 31, 2011

Please Mrs. First Lady, may I be the parent in my home?

french fries

Yesterday we went on a short road trip.  Jim’s aunt and uncle were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and there was an open house in their honor in Newberg.  That’s about 3 1/2 hours from home.   With other commitments already on the calendar for part of the weekend, we opted to make it a day trip.  Leaving in the morning at the same time we’d normally leave for church, we got to Newberg about 1pm, just in time to change into ‘reception clothes’ and head over to the party.  We loved it and had a great time catching up with everyone.  Ryan and Logan were in heaven—an afternoon with their cousins is always high on their list of favorites.

So why the french fries in the picture?  Well, on the way home we stopped for dinner.  Nothing fancy, and as a matter of fact, we let the boys choose since they’d be so cooperative and well-behaved all day.  (Being allowed to choose is a special treat.  We don’t reward for expected behavior, but yesterday, with just over 6 hours in the car, it was appropriate to take their input into account.)  Their choice?  McDonalds, of course. It’s definitely not my favorite, but on the rare occasions we eat fast food I can deal with it. 

The boys LOVE Happy Meals.  They eat the food.  They love the toys.  They think the french fries are pretty delicious.  And roughly 2 ounces of french fries (maybe 30 or so fries) really isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.  I mean really—they eat healthily every day.  A treat once in a while should be just that:  a treat.  Yeah.  Not so much any more.  McDonalds has cut the amount of fries in their Happy Meals to just over 1 ounce, or approximately 14 fries.  (Yes, I counted.  Both containers.)  Instead, you get apple slices with your meal now.  Ummm….really?  REALLY?  When did I lose my ability to make decisions for my children?  And apple slices?  Are they organic apples?  What preservative was used so they’d stay pretty and white all sliced in their cellophane bag? And how about that caramel sauce handed out with it?  Doesn’t the sugar content and the calories of THAT treat roughly equal that of 15 fries?  It’s such a crock.  And to make things even better, when they were done, they were still hungry so we bought some McFlurrys for the road.  NOT how we would choose to do things, and certainly not healthy.  From this point forward, on the rare occasions we eat at McDonalds, they’ll now be sharing an ‘adult’ meal instead of having Happy Meals.  More food to keep tummies happy, and cheaper too.  I guess I’ll be grateful for that.

I have 2 little boys.  LITTLE boys.  One of them is barely on the weight chart for his age, having just cracked the 7th percentile.  The other is larger, but still only in the 45th percentile for his age.  Their consumption of McDonalds fries as an occasional treat will not make them obese.  Heavens…if it would put some weight on my littler guy, I’d buy them more often!  As it is, we struggle to help him gain weight.  Cutting his caloric intake is definitely not on my radar!  I’d appreciate being able to make those decisions myself, based on the needs in my family.   

It’s a sorry state of affairs when school recesses are being canceled, the ability to walk and play and run and ride bikes is seriously curtailed due to ‘safety concerns’ and work schedules and the primary approach to childhood obesity is to remove a parent’s freedom to choose how to feed their children.    I laughed when I saw Jimi Hendrix’s quote that says

“I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.”

There’s a hint of truth in it, for sure.  And I think that Dwight D. Eisenhower hit it in his State of the Union address in February 1953:

“To be true to one’s own freedom is, in essence, to honor and respect the freedom of all others.”

So please, Mrs. First Lady, can you please keep your hands…and your laws…out of my feeding of my children?  Will you please respect and honor my freedom?  No one forces people to eat McDonalds fries!  But when you restrict them, you are limiting my freedom.  There HAS to be a better way than dictating what our children can and cannot eat!

*Note:  I am far less frustrated and angry than I was last night.  :)  The whole thing is incredibly stupid, and it’s hit a hot button with me.  Ridiculous laws that don’t address the root cause of the problem (High fructose corn syrup, anyone?  How about excessive consumption of carbohydrates?  And don’t get me started on ‘fat free’ foods like sour cream and cream cheese…how on earth can all those chemicals be good for us???) only serve to perpetuate the issue.  Until we learn to eat foods that remember where they came from, foods that were lovingly made with fresh ingredients in home kitchens, and spend more time outside running, jumping, playing, and working like we used to, the problem will continue to grow.

Whew!  I feel better now.  Thanks for letting me vent.


  1. Love this post!

    I added you to our adoption blog role. Please let me know if you want me to remove it.

    great blog!

  2. Wait - you were forced to buy the apples as part of your Happy Meal? Very strange! I got more than that from your post, I promise - just too tired to comment much tonight! LOL!