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Chattering Mind

Today’s New York Times has a New Yorky take on what’s happening in the homes of those who want their children to eat highly healthy food, but whose careers necessitate employing babysitters who may not share their whole foods philosophy.

You’ll cringe because the story brings out a painful class divide quite evident these days–we’ve got the Eat Divinely Wells and the Eat What You Can Affords. Organic, hyper-healthy dining is assuming an obsessive “prissy” image that I find unfortunate. Believe me, I’m as organic as I can get, but I also let my two sons eat fried foods I’d never touch in kid-friendly restaurants. If I argued over every piece of pizza, I’d make myself and my kids nuts. What to do?

You can talk to your children about their food choices, and discuss as a family what really tastes delicious. Everybody’s different. My guys went through a Happy Meal phase, but they no longer jump for glee when we pass a McDonald’s. Intriguingly, the 10-year-old Chattering recently listed “sushi” as his favorite food on a school getting-to-know-you project. He also balked when we decided to hold his birthday at a bowling alley this coming weekend because the pizza there might be “of low quality.” Hmmm. What have I wrought?

I do think discussing what passes as a good meal should be reviewed with any sitter you employ. And questions like “What do you eat?” or “How can I stock the refrigerator to keep you healthy?” or even “How do people feed babies in your country?” (if that question applies) are nice things to ask sitters (you might even soak up helpful wisdom).

I employed sitters three days a week when my sons were young. Two women over a period of five years came into the house while I wrote at home. And I treated both of them like queens. Maybe too much so. But I was so grateful, and they returned the love. There was only one time when I thought the whole love-your-nanny-thing was lopsided: I once found myself rushing out to buy a surprise going-away cake for the sitter who was returning to Guatemala for a month’s vacation on the tax refund she received from our on-the-books wages. Where was she as I made the mad dash to buy cake for her going-away party?

Taking care of my kids, of course.

Got any good stories about food, babysitters and love?

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