My baby is eating breakfast at school!

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 Charlie as the ring bearer in my sister’s wedding. He took this job very seriously!

Charlie started kindergarten this fall. He loves it, for the most part, and it’s been an education for me. In theory, none of this should be new information. This is my ninth year as a school-based speech pathologist. I know how things work (sometimes I think I know too much).

Even though Charlie is only in kindergarten, he has a long day. He participates in morning and after-school care and, because his kindergarten is half-day, he also attends a half-day enrichment program. He gets bussed around, which gives me anxiety, but I gather he enjoys it.

He is dropped off at school early because I work at an early school in another district. Earlier this fall, he mentioned that he wanted to have breakfast like the other kids. He told me that while he is in care, he sees kids file in and get breakfast. I inquired at the school, wrote out a check for $20, and we got an account and a pin number set up for him.

My husband and I carefully went over the menu with him. My husband, who is not gluten free like I am, eats unprocessed food most of the time. For example, he will only buy the Polish or Russian bread at the store because it has about five ingredients (wheat flour, yeast, salt). Because of Charlie’s health history, he has been gluten free for four years now. But we started experimenting with a little wheat and I feel like he is unaffected ingesting small amounts (as in once a week). I really do believe that he will need to be at minimum “low gluten” for the rest of his life.

So he started buying his own breakfast. He eats at home and then he eats at school. Yep, two breakfasts. He usually eats toast or yogurt at home. Then at school he eats string cheese, yogurt, or juice. Eventually he told me that he ended up just buying whatever he wants. He told me that sometimes he eats pancakes, waffles, or cereal. Before I freaked out, I talked to my husband and he said he doubted he eats the whole meal, probably just bites. When he said that, it reminded me that Charlie told us that he doesn’t have a lot of time to eat in the morning. Where have I heard that before?

Overall, I’m happy that he’s feeling empowered by this experience. I’m learning to be okay with him eating more wheat and more processed food than I really want him to. Although I am anxious about how fast this is phase is starting, I think I’m keeping it from him. I know I need to let him figure out this new food environment and that he will eventually learn what his body needs. Soon the balance in his lunch account will be used up. I think I’m going to wait until he asks for it to be refilled.


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One thought on “My baby is eating breakfast at school!”

  1. I am just now reading your book, and am really enjoying it so far, after seeing Jamie Oliver’s shows about school lunches I have been very interested in the subject. I am a Pediatric Nurse so besides for my own family I have a broader interest in the health of children in our society.

    I too have a Kindergartener, who is my first child in school, and who is at an early start school. They provide free breakfast to K students so I only happened to find out that some days he too is eating two breakfasts. Though I know we eat more processed foods than we should, for our health overall, I usually choose organic for many items including dairy and many grains. When I buy processed foods typically I am very contentious about which foods/brands we buy, I diligently read labels (though I still buy some things that have far too many ingredients or several ones that I can’t pronounce) and I buy almost exclusively whole grain (as in the kind with actual fiber in it not just the stuff that somehow gets labeled that way yet has minimal nutritional value). For this reason alone it makes it hard for me to be thrilled with the food served at our school. Thankfully we have no dietary restrictions. I found out that he drinks chocolate milk daily, which explains why he barely drinks regular milk anymore (he was not a huge fan before but drank it pretty well overall), when he mentioned having chocolate milk on Fridays and I commented thinking he meant for lunch and it turns out he means for snack. So now I realize he has chocolate milk every day he eats at school, for every chance he gets. I’ve tried explaining I’d prefer he not drink that much sugary stuff and I would prefer he drinks regular milk most of the time but I know that isn’t happening. And I’m realizing I have to let it go a bit. If he had his choice he would eat school lunch every day, probably partially because of the chocolate milk, but for the most part I’m trying to limit it to 2 possibly 3 days each week. I have told him it’s fine to get milk at school even if he brings his own lunch because I am finding out otherwise he barely drinks anything since his milk comes home sometimes untouched. I feel bad that he wants to eat there and I say no. I’m glad he is honest enough to tell me because I’m pretty sure he knew even before I said it that having chocolate milk every day would not be something I am thrilled about. It was funny because one day after we had the drink less chocolate milk discussion he said “mommy I forgot and got chocolate milk again today. BUT I didn’t drink much of it” to which I responded if you take it I’d rather have you drink it than go to waste”. “well the pigs get it if I don’t drink it” how sweet but I told him I’d still rather have him drink it even though it would not be what I would choose for him. I plan to inquire at the school about possibilities of limiting what he buys and getting involved to make gradual changes throughout the school. I am waiting until I get through your book before diving into the idea of helping to create change. Plus I missed the first PTSA meeting because I had a conflict and I have not inquired about becoming involved with the group formally.

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