The Kid Breakfast
By Susan Kawa

It is the age of email, and I have to say I'm fundamentally grateful. One aspect of email I'm not too thrilled about is the "FW: Helpful and Inspiring Advice" variety. It's the new medium of choice for well-meaning plagiarizers to pass along unsolicited and authoritative tidbits of information that they have no intention of following either.

I received one such email the other day from my sister. I've included it below, edited for space as the original was a whopping 4 pages long, but you'll get the general idea.

New research is proving that children who eat a nutritious breakfast are better behaved, pay closer attention, participate more in class discussions, can manage more complex academic problems and earn higher grades than breakfast skippers.

A nutritious breakfast should be a balance of complex carbohydrates and proteins, such as: veggie omelet, bran muffin and fruit with yogurt, whole grain pancakes or waffles topped with berries and/or yogurt, and a glass of milk. Breakfast "pizza" - a large whole-grain pancake filled or topped with fruit or jelly (sweetened with fruit concentrate), plus orange slices or banana and a glass of milk or whole-wheat zucchini pancakes topped with fruit and a glass of milk.

In addition to feeding your kids a healthy breakfast, it's important to send them off to school in a calm mood. Morning chaos or tension increases the levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream, which can affect behavior and learning.

If breakfast time in your household resembles the hectic morning rush hour in our home, you know that sleepy kids and hurried parents are not a good match for a healthy breakfast. Here is a rush-hour recipe for a delicious, nutritious smoothie we whip up when we don't have time to prepare breakfast.

8-12 ounces plain yogurt -- 1/2 c. frozen organic strawberries -- 1 frozen banana -- 1/2 c. papaya -- 1/2 c. frozen blueberries -- 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil -- 4 ounces tofu (optional) -- 1 tablespoon honey or fruit concentrate -- 1 tablespoon peanut butter -- 12 ounces of milk, juice, rice, or soy beverage.

Now, before I even go into the general message, what is flaxseed oil anyway? And organic strawberries are only sold at health food stores, so I guess I'll just add that errand to the 800 other things on my list. Are papayas in season? Did you remember to freeze the banana? And don't they know the chances of getting tofu into a child's stomach are roughly equivalent to winning the tri-state lottery. FICTION, is my point. Real families don't whip up nutritionally balanced power smoothies every morning (my apologies to the freaks who do).

This is exactly the sort of suggestion that has caused me to avoid all parenting publications, as a matter of principle. Just TRY to get this stuff into them, when they're "not hungry"!!!  Veggie omelet!?!?! Puh-leeze!

My 3-year-old daughter, Abby, eats two breakfasts, sometimes three, consisting of anything on MY plate, scavenged from under sofa cushions, or stealthily smuggled from the pantry while I'm showering (but NEVER what she's dutifully served). She eats when she wakes up, again just before leaving for pre-school, and once more at school when she tells them she hasn't eaten yet.

Max, my 5-year-old son, drinks his orange juice and insists he's not hungry, unless we have Pop Tarts.

Meanwhile, I also have to get them dressed and combed. Teeth brushed, shoes on, with socks, what-day-is-it and do-they-need-anything-extra-for-school? Now they slime their clothes, or just plain don't like them, so upstairs again to change. Of course, now the shoes don't match. And then they have to "do number 2," which takes 20-minutes of undivided attention complete with singing and clapping. What about the vitamin? Is "Arthur" over yet? Sweater weather? Coats? Now one shoe is missing, and who took my car keys off the counter? DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING ON THE COUNTER--HOWMANYTIMES DOIHAVETOSAYIT!!!!!

Keys are in the playroom. "Somewhere." And now the phone rings - my dear husband, peacefully at work, asking me to do some errand or other in my copious free time. Where is Abby? She's hiding in the closet, naked.

Breakfast, my eye. How about going back to bed?

Susan Kawa is a wife, mother, and freelance writer. More of her essays can be read at

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