When your toddler won’t stop sampling food at the market

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who, while you read this, took bites out of $35 worth of groceries.

Toddlers are famous for their impulsive and suggestible nature. Most dads are infamous for their un-boy-scoutly quality of unpreparedness. I know I am. Put the two together, and send them to the grocery store, and you have a recipe for off-the-shelf snacking.

The toddler gets hungry because she sees food; the daddy didn’t bring food — or did, but brought the WRONG food. Then, depending on their age, the child either grabs food and starts eating it or begs for food and won’t take no for an answer. And how, exactly, does one tell a toddler you can’t provide a snack for them in a sea of food. It’s like dying of thirst while adrift on fresh water.

When my daughter grabbed her first grape from the produce section, I was a wreck — what if the food police come?! We haven’t paid for that! We haven’t washed it! People are staring!

Fast forward three years, and we’re walking down grocery aisles with one arm in a box of crackers, three apple cores in the cart and eyeballing a can of soup. Turns out the food police generally don’t come for you as long as you pay at the end … just don’t leave your wallet at home!

Farmers markets can be a little more problematic, or at least a little more expensive, because nothing is in a package. Most trips to farmers markets in the last few years have cost me almost $40 before even buying anything on purpose. Like Snoopy zapping zingers, Viva bites into something else every time I turn around. Turn around once and ZAP, she’s biting into an olive loaf. Turn around again and ZAP, it’s farmhouse cheese. Then, ZAP she’s biting artisanal charcuterie, and then ZAP, she’s sinking her teeth into a folk rocker. Which is a terrible idea if you don’t wash them first.

It’s at this point in a parenting blog when the author tends to swing left or right — either bragging about how they’re going to make sure their child listens, keeps their hands to themselves and understands the value of a dollar, or how each moment in a store or market is a chance to live in a zen-like now, taste the wonders of the earth and “unschool.” Then they talk about how everyone should breastfeed until they’re 25.

I’m going to take the middle road on this one — I need to get my damned kid to ask before she snags food and chomps it. But if sampling is a way to make going to farmers markets or all the amazing new grocery stores an interactive experience with their parent, then it’s not worth freaking out over the grape they just ate on credit.

It’s a little weird when your kids eats a whole loaf of bread like some kind of romance-era urchin, but it’s still a delightful day out.

Just keep your toddler away from the raw chicken and pork — I’m not sure how far they’ll go.

If you’ve enjoyed this Parenting Media Association Award Winning blog, subscribe to the WDP podcast (One of Podbean’s 10 most downloaded Parenting Podcasts worldwide and an iTunes staff pick for best Parenting humor) for free on iTunes, or listen at whitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.)

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