As with so many things, I thought I had more time on this one. I figured that when the kids started school the pressure would be on about what to wear, what to watch, what to play. I didn’t bank on feeling the effects of peer pressure at the age of 2 years, 5 months, with Maddie and Riley still in daycare.
Every day, I send a Tupperware container filled with plain, unsweetened yogurt to school with the twins. Yogurt is one of their favorite foods, and they’ve always eaten no-frills, no-sugar, full-fat deliciousness from an economy-sized tub. A couple of weeks ago, on our weekly trip to the grocery store, we stopped at the yogurt display. I reached for our usual.
“I want a LITTLE yogurt!” cried Riley.
“No that one,” added Maddie. “I wanna yogurt for the BABIES!” she gestured at the colorful YoBaby containers.
“Please, Mama, the little yogurt!” reiterated Riley.
“But this yogurt is SO GOOD!” I cheerfully pandered, putting the plain, white tub in our cart. “You LOVE this yogurt!”
Ha. Well. They did eat their usual yogurt over the weekend, and that Monday, I packed them off to school with the requisite Tupperware full for lunch. When I picked them up that day, their daycare provider said, “They don’t want to eat yogurt anymore. They see the other kid with this one [YoBaby], and they want that. Can you send them that?”
“Let’s see if it was just a fluke today. I’ve got their yogurts all packed for the week. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
All week it was the same story. “Can’t you just send them the baby yogurt?” Ruth queried.
Hmmm. In theory, yes, I can. It would even be easier for me to do so: one less thing to dole out into individual containers when I’m packing up our lunches on Sunday night. But while there are certainly worse things for them to eat, I’d rather not add another source of sugar to their diet if I can avoid it. And more important, they’ll still eat plain yogurt at home without complaint, even with gusto. The only time they demand the “little yogurt” is when they see other kids eating it. Pressure’s on.
This weekend, when we went to the store, I had a plan. When we got to the yogurt section, I was prepared.
“Mama! The LITTLE one!” said Riley.
“Well, guys, those little ones are for babies, and you’re big kids. But we can try this kind if you want!” I picked out a few containers of the only brand of yogurt on Whole Foods’ shelves that still uses plastic lids instead of foil tops. Maddie and Riley were giddy, and each of them grabbed for a container to hold. I also put a tub of regular yogurt in the cart. “These little ones are for you. The big one is for Mama,” I explained.
Maddie and Riley held their yogurts during our whole trip through the store. When we got home, I let them eat their little yogurts, some crackers, and some fruit for lunch. While they were napping, I rinsed out those little yogurt containers, and refilled them with plain yogurt from the big tub. I packed those repurposed little yogurts in their lunch bag for school yesterday.
“Did they eat their yogurt?” I asked when I picked them up.
“Yes, they were very happy to have a little one like that,” said Ruth.
“Oh, great. Could you be sure to send those containers home with me each day?” I requested. Ruth was happy to do so.
And so for now I have foiled peer pressure. I got off easy this time, and this kind of pressure was hardly something to fret about anyway. As they get older, the stakes will get higher. I worry about balancing my principles with Maddie and Riley’s desires, about giving them what they need to be part of the group without having them get lost in the herd. Being a parent becomes less physically demanding as your kids get older, but I can see that I’ve barely scratched the surface on the drama of social interactions and the complexities of interacting with peers. I need to remind myself to take a deep breath: this week, it’s just a yogurt. That I can handle.