What’s For Dessert
By Cheryl Hansen
Dessert is a big deal in my house—particularly to my 7-year-old daughter. She can be eating her favorite carb-laden meal, making yummy noises and still, she’ll ask: “What’s for dessert?”
I’ve explained that dessert isn’t an every-meal or even an every-day thing. But as they say, actions speak louder than words. Any dependence this child has on sugar rests solely on my shoulders. I, too, daydream far too often about what sweet treat might await me. If my kids behave well during errands, I reward them (and me) with a cookie or shake. If one gets invited to a birthday party, I take the other out for a dessert “date.” Movies are accompanied by candy. Friday is cause for celebration.
I learned this behavior from my own mom who, for example, would take me for donuts after every orthodontist appointment. Even as a teenager I loved those mornings hanging with my mom. While I don’t want my own kids’ memories of me to be all about hot cocoa and cake pops, I struggle to come up with suitable alternatives.
This weekend I had a light-bulb moment. I suggested to my daughter that we should give up desserts completely until Valentine’s Day. Her first question, “How many days till Valentine’s Day?” Her second, “What will we get to eat on Valentine’s Day?”
But she was in. Even my son decided to take on the challenge—going as far as ordering regular milk versus chocolate milk at lunch today. I am on board, too. Call it integrity or mom guilt—but I’m not even tempted to grab a little chocolate after they’ve gone to bed. A deal’s a deal.
My daughter and I have been plotting some incredible dessert ideas that we can make together on Feb. 14. While I’m sure the idea of something delicious is enticing to her, I think she’s just as excited to take on this challenge with me, and cap it off with some kind of baking adventure that we can do together. So sure, this memory will still be surrounding something yummy—but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
The real light-bulb moment may be that my kids don’t actually care so much about the treats themselves—just like I didn’t care about the actual donuts with my mom. In the end, it’s the time together that matters.