Monday, June 23, 2014

The Bamba Challenge

It is 90 minutes before I will go pick up my almost 18-month-old from day care and I’m a bit stressed.  Or maybe stressed is too strong of a word, but a little tense. Every day after day care I take her to a park. I bring with me a sippy cup of water, a couple of rice cakes, and a cut-up apple, in case she gets hungry

At 5 p.m., almost every kid in Israel is at the park. It’s one good thing about living here: children rule the world and out-door play spaces are a priority. Within a half-mile radius, there are at least four huge parks, one in front of my building. But the best park is by her day care. It has the perfect playground equipment for her age and it also has some items that challenge her.

Here is what I am anticipating:

I will take her out of the stroller, she will run to go play, and this all goes well until I hear a pop and the smell of peanut butter. I will look at Maya, she will be looking at the bag of Bamba, and she will run to it, because she wants some.

Bamba, for those unfamiliar, is Israeli Cheetos but peanut butter flavored. It has been the staple of Israel children since ancient times, okay not ancient times, but the feeling among many Israeli parents is “Take away my Bamba, take away my freedom.”
My nemesis: the Bamba baby.

The eating of Bamba is seen even to represent the differences in Israeli and American society. The educational organization where I used to work used to say: When an American opens a bag of chips, they only open it to take one chip at a time and then to save some for later. When an Israeli opens a bag of chips or Bamba, they open it widely so everyone can have some.  Hence, Israelis are more communal.

And although for kids and teenagers, that is totally true, but for toddlers, it’s a bit different. First of all, I don’t know anyone else at the park. The second they hear me speak English to Maya, I am a foreigner to them. So, I’m not really comfortable with Maya grabbing Bamba from some other kid’s bag that she doesn’t know. Does the kid’s parent want Maya taking one? And let’s face it, who can just have one Cheeto? In the end, Maya will want more than one piece of Bamba and she doesn’t understand why that’s impolite, and one is all that she can have.  

And then all hell breaks loose. Yesterday, after moving her away from the Bamba, she had the mother of all tantrums. I ended up carrying her home from the park for a half-mile. Worse, she was hysterical and threw up the healthy snack I had given her.

So the obvious solution would be to just say screw it, and bring Bamba to the park today or not take her to the park.

I don’t want to not take her to the park. She goes to bed at 8:15, and if we come home at 5:15, she won’t have very much activity for three hours.  She needs the park. 

And about the Bamba. Bamba does have some nutritional value, but its ingredients are really not healthy and it has a lot of the "bad" fat in it. I’m not a crazy person about what my daughter eats. I know she eats Bamba sometimes at daycare, and I don’t flip out about it. Often times, I pick her up from day care and she has a cookie hanging from her mouth. I just choose to give her healthy snacks and meals, which by the way, she likes.

Because of my own difficult, lifetime struggles with food, I read a book called Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter. It has really helped me figure out how to feed Maya nutritionally without being obsessive or overly indulgent.

Dinner tonight; chicken breast, carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.

I just want her to be healthy.  

I just want her to be happy.  

We’ll see what today brings.

Hopefully it will not be Bambastic.

1 comment:

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