I know you probably meant well. That’s why I didn’t say anything snarky as I walked away, with my crying toddler. I was glad when you crossed to the other side of the mall, and were no longer following behind us.
You could tell she was having a rough day when you stopped us, telling your much younger child to “Say hi to the little girl” You asked me “Tired or hungry?” The standard two reasons for toddler tantrums in public places. “Hungry” I responded with a sigh.
“I want a hot dog from Taaaaaarrrrrget” my daughter pleaded. Pulling on my arm in desperation to get to that big red bulls eye that she could see, just out of reach. As she started to say it again you stopped her. “Oh no honey! You don’t want a yucky hot dog from Target! They are so gross!” you said. I was a bit stunned, and felt like I needed to defend my child and myself as a mother “We’re going through a hot dog phase, it’s the only protein we can get her to eat lately” (This isn’t completely true, but It was all I could think of besides “Mind your own business, jerk! The girl likes hot dogs!”) I felt my cheeks turning red. Avery begged again “come on, lets go to Target! I wanna eat hot dogs!”
Let me be clear here. My girl eats well. She does not live on processed foods, microwave dinners or happy meals. She enjoys lots of fresh fruits and veggies. She drinks only the
most expensive best organic, hormone free milk. She drinks water, and rarely juice. She loves cheese and organic pasta. When she eats hotdogs at home they are either turkey dogs or uncured beef–All natural, hormone free, antibiotic free, nitrate free gluten free…judgement free.
But you don’t know that.
Because you don’t know us.
If you did know us, you would know that my daughter sometimes goes for 2 or 3 days, grazing, only eating small amounts of food. It’s as if she can’t be bothered with sitting for a meal when there are duck Vs dinosaurs battles to be had, songs to dance to and castles to build. An apple slice here, half a waffle there, a few bites of macaroni and cheese, or a some watermelon and if we’re lucky, a whole bag of pirate’s booty, goldfish or a GoGo Squeez pouch. So, when she actually requests something, and tells me she is hungry and WANTS to eat, I don’t say “no, that’s gross” (within reason) I say “OK!! Hooray for eating!” Even if it’s a Target hot dog (they are all beef, by the way) or nuggets, or a blueberry muffin from Dunkin. (Note: her doctor has no concerns about her health, her growth or her nutrition–In his words, she is a “Typical toddler” and very, VERY healthy.)
But, you don’t know us.
When she cried for a hotdog, you again said to her “Ew no, yucky yucky!! They are gross!” Then followed with “What about a pretzel? Will she eat a pretzel?”
I’m sure you didn’t know that she had just stopped crying over the fact that I had said “No, not today” to my daughter’s request for “pretzels in a cup!” at Auntie Anne’s. Not because I have anything against pretzels, I absolutely love them, but I didn’t want to buy her one, have her take two bites (as is her norm) and then ask, again, for a hot dog from Target.
You see, she is MY daughter. For the last 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days ( and 16 hours and 16+ minutes–but who’s counting?) I’ve been living with her. Learning about her. Coming to understand her (sometimes) She does surprise me on occasion, like the day she housed all the peppers from the crudité platter at a play date) but, for the most part, I know what she likes, and what she doesn’t.
I also know that she had forgotten about the pretzels until you brought it up, and that you saying “hot dogs are gross” got the wheels turning in her toddler mind that “Ewwww hot dogs are gross”
I know that you didn’t mean any harm. Maybe you take child nutrition very seriously, maybe you own a health food store, maybe you used to be very overweight as a child, maybe you are a nutritionist or work in a social services field and see malnourished children daily, or are concerned about our growing childhood obesity epidemic, maybe you just have a passionate distaste for hot dogs.
I don’t know. I don’t know you.
Your son looked much younger than my daughter. Maybe a year, maybe 18 months. I’m terrible at guessing, but, definitely younger. Perhaps he hasn’t reached the stage where he refuses to eat what you serve him. Maybe he loves kale and artichoke hearts served over a bed of quinoa with a side of feta and grapes. Maybe he’s younger than I thought and not even eating those things yet. Maybe he’s not at the stage of saying “NO!” while pushing his plate right off his highchair tray and on to the floor.
I don’t know. I don’t know him.
So I walked away.
We headed for Target. My little girl crying “I never want a hot dog at Target! They are gross and yucky!” Me saying “no! hot dogs are yummy! you love hot dogs!” Thank the lord she LOVES the girls who work at Target’s Starbucks (we *May* have a little bit of an addiction, and go there
daily often) So I started telling her we were going to see her “friends in the Target kitchen” and she calmed down enough to realize that she did, in fact, like hot dogs.
I know that you didn’t mean any harm, and honestly, I wasn’t upset or too bothered by your comments. I just hope that the next time you you overhear a toddler pleading for a hot dog, instead of saying “Eww, no! That’s gross” You say something like, “Aww, enjoy your lunch, sweetie”
Because you don’t know them, you don’t know their story.
And there isn’t anything wrong with a Target hot dog every now and then!