We talk about food and eating habits a lot at our house. It’s not uncommon to hear my six year old brag about all the colors on her plate or my three year old ask to be excused because his body is telling him that he’s full. Eleanor frequently tells me that she’s making a food choice because it’s a green light food (her kindergarten teacher used the stoplight analogy for describing what foods should be eaten freely and those which should be eaten in small doses or not at all/in very little quantities) and will give her the energy she needs to play.
These are all reasons that I shouldn’t have been surprised to come home one day to these signs hanging on my mailbox. On the first pleasantly warm spring day we had, Eleanor along with two neighborhood kids, had a fruit and vegetable stand. Bananas were a dollar each and a quarter would get you a single mini pepper. While their prices certainly didn’t reflect the reality of the grocery isle, they were ambitious and excited and even went door to door telling informing people that they could buy fresh fruits and vegetables (if they wanted bananas, clementines, or mini peppers) “at our fruit and vegetable stand just down the street!”
Of course Tim and I bought some treats for ourselves – well, double bought really since we had just returned from the grocery store with those same banana, mini peppers, and clementines – and Oliver even found $0.25 from the key basket to buy his own clementine, which he was immensely proud of having done. The 8-year old next door even came over (with $10, which the girls couldn’t break, so I treated him to three mini peppers too).
While you would think as a nutritionist I would be proud of such a stand (I used to hawk Red 40 flavored Kool-Aid on the street corner, arguably less healthy than oranges), it was something about how the stand came to be that made me more proud. When the girls came running into the house with the idea for a stand each one started working on some aspect that needed attention: grabbing the bananas from the kitchen counter or paper and markers to make the sign, Eleanor stopped them. “Wait,” she said, hands resting on her hips. “First, we need a plan.”
“First, we need a plan.”
Imagine if beverage executives had said this before launching New Coke, or the 80s before launching its new line of hairstyles. Even Gerald would agree with her: “make a plan and stick to it.” Of course, sometimes you parents have other plans, like going to get frozen yogurt, in which case, Eleanor would tell you, abandon all plans. “It’s okay. You can have a fruit stand tomorrow.”