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I’m a Believer

In case you didn’t know it, there’s an anti-fruit juice revolution going on out there.  Tons of parents won’t let their kids touch a drop of fruit juice.  Why?  Well, there are so many reasons – needless calories, too much sugar, suppression of appetite (so that children won’t actually eat nutritious foods), and those are only a few of the reasons I’ve heard.  Some experts have said that no matter how organic, 100%, or no sugar added the juice is, you might as well be pouring your child a sippy cup full of soda.   In fact, if you are willing to sit still long enough for anti-juice enthusiasts to tell you all of the evils of fruit juice you will leave believing that Satan made it himself.  You know those juice boxes that they serve at little kid’s birthday parties every weekend all across the country?  Clearly the parents throwing that party are trying to kill your child.  The devil’s juice, I tell you.

Okay, so maybe you’ve caught on to the fact that I’m not exactly buying the whole “devil juice” idea.  I’m pretty sure The Devil doesn’t run a Juicy Juice factory.  With all that’s going on in the world today, I would assume he has his hands full and can’t take on that added obligation.

With that said, I do agree with a few points made by anti-juice revolutionaries.  Do I want my kids to live on a diet of strictly juice?  No.  Do I want it to be a major part of their diet?  No.  And yes, it’s true that my household went on a temporary juice embargo when I felt Greenleigh was having too much at daycare (they are apparently unaware of the revolution, and pour juice liberally there).  But as with pretty much everything, I believe in moderation.  I diluted juice for Greenleigh and offered milk and water as an alternative whenever I could.  In fact, I diluted her juice just the other day.  Shhh…don’t tell her.

But the best reason I heard for turning down juice was always, “my child just doesn’t like juice; they much prefer water.”  I suppose now, my dear friends who told me this exact thing know that I didn’t believe it.  Sorry guys, I just didn’t.  I mean, what kid turns down juice?  Why would you want plain water over a nice sugary beverage?  [I say this as I reach for my can of soda that is no further than 2 feet from me all day long.]  And they make it in so many yummy flavors!  They’re kids, right?  Kids love juice!

Which led me to the next most logical option – it must be the parents who don’t want their kids to have juice, so they make themselves believe that their kids don’t even like it.  You know, like that mom who says that her child doesn’t like birthday cake, only to whip a Del Monte fruit cup out of their purse for their child to “enjoy” instead?  Meanwhile, the child looks longingly at all the other kids eating cake while the mother is cramming fruit down Little Johnny’s throat because “he just likes it more than cake”.  And yes, I know, there are kids who can’t eat cake because they are intolerant to dairy, gluten, various dyes, etc., but in this particular case (that I watched happen very recently) it was because the child “just didn’t like cake”.  Oh, but his eyes told a much different story as he watched Greenleigh eat her cake.  He wanted that cake.  You could just tell.

Of course, I don’t have a problem with parents making the executive decision for their kids not to eat cake, drink juice, or whatever else it may be, I just wanted people to own it.  While I think it’s extreme to try to intercept a plate of birthday cake that’s on its way to your child (who is already drooling in anticipation), I suppose that’s fine parenting decision to make, but own it.  Tell people that Little Johnny can’t have it because you don’t want him to have it, not that he doesn’t want it.  In the same vein, if you don’t want your kids drinking juice, just say it, “No, I’m sorry, Little Johnny can’t have that.  I don’t want him to have that.”

So what could sway me from my firm belief that kids can’t like water over juice?  My second born.  Hazeline can’t stand juice.  At first, I refused to believe it and continued to offer diluted juice in a sippy cup a few times per week.  When she didn’t seem very interested, I blamed the sippy cup.  Clearly, she just didn’t understand how it worked yet.  On the rare occasions when she would manage to get a sip, she would get a terrible look on her face like she had just had a sip of the most vial substance on Earth.  Her little face would scrunch up, lips would pucker, and she would close her eyes tightly.  After a moment had passed, she would open her eyes and look at me, as if to say, “What the hell was that, Mom?”.  I figured maybe she had just gotten too much all at once, because it couldn’t be the juice itself.

Then one day I was out of juice.  I filled her cup with water, figuring it was just practice and she could at least play with the cup.  I didn’t expect her to have any real interest in it.  Of course that was the day that she told me that she knew exactly how to use the sippy cup, and she had known the entire time.  She guzzled down an ounce or so of water and looked at me for more.  How can this be?  There’s no juice in there.  Okay, I thought, she likes water.

But the behavior continued.  One day as I was attempting to mix a bottle of formula, Hazeline grabbed the bottle of pre-measured water out of my hand before I could mix the powder in.  I soon learned that what I thought were excited screeches as I made her bottle were actually her saying, “Hey, stop it Mom, your ruining my water.”  And on Sunday as we were sitting around the table having brunch, Hazeline squealed with delight as we fed her water from a straw, until we stopped and her shrieks of happiness turned to screams of displeasure.  It was then that the imaginary lightbulb above my head turned on and shined down on my previously disbelieving self – some babies really do love water, and they even prefer it over juice, formula, or anything else.  My child does not like juice, but loves water.  A believer was born.

Maybe there really are kids out there that don’t like birthday cake…no wait, I’m not ready to go that far yet.