Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vending Machine Vacillations

Picture this scenario ...

You're standing at a vending machine, because your child is starving and you weren't prepared with your usual store of snacks and there isn't an healthy, unprocessed gram of food for miles. There isn't even a moderately healthy nugget of food in the building. The closest thing you can get is what's in front of you, staring out at you, taunting you, from behind fingerprinted Plexiglas.

You say, "Okay, I'll buy you a snack, but it needs to be something relatively healthy, something with protein, since you haven't had lunch yet." You survey your choices, and here are your "healthy" options: Cheez-its, Fig Newtons, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Oh yeah, and a squished Nature Valley granola bar that looks like it's been there since the Clinton administration, but at least it has some nuts in it ... somewhere. You search in vain at the bottom of your purse for that half-eaten bag of peanuts that you were sure your kid stuck in there last week. No luck.

Out of the corner of your eye you see your little devil-child, who only moments ago was your sweet little angel, spying the top row: Snickers, Oreos, Reese's. Her gaze moves down a notch to take in the potato chips and Doritos. Yikes. Your stomach knots up, knowing you gotta get her outta here pronto, with something not too gross to hold her over for an hour until lunch.

You smile weakly. "What'll it be? Cheez-its might have some protein; Fig Newtons and the cookies have fruit [okay, that's stretching it]. Hey, that granola bar looks tasty, doesn't it?"

"I want Oreos! I want Oreos!"

"Remember how we talked about how eating only carbs and empty calories makes you short-tempered? We really need to choose something with protein. How about those Cheez-its? Mmm, don't they look good?"

"I want Oreos! I want Oreos! Waaaaah!"

"I don't want to waste our money buying anything junky. You can pick something relatively healthy to tide you over, or you're welcome to wait until lunch to eat."

"I want Oreos! I WANT OREOS!!!" Your child crumples in a heap at your feet - from hunger, frustration, manipulation?

What do you do?

Option A:
You sigh and punch B4 and the Oreos fall with a sickening thud. Hey, at least your kid will stop screaming at a decibel level sufficient to make people stick their heads out of their office doors to see who the demon seed is. After all, you hardly ever buy junk and it'll be a treat this time. Your kid will be grateful.

Option B:
You say, "Come on, honey. You need to choose. Please? Hurry! People are staring! Make a choice already!" In frustration, you finally choose the granola bar, which lands like a brick with a clunk. Hey, your kid should be happy - at least it's food.

Option C:
"I'm willing to buy you either the granola bar or Cheez-its. If you don't want one of those, you can wait until lunch." You gave a choice, right? That should be enough. You didn't even have to do that much.

Option D:
"Did you bring your own money? If you're paying, it's your choice." Your child may not make the best decisions, even when you're standing there watching, but it IS their money, and you don't have a bit of authority over it.

Option E:
"Just get the Oreos. Whatever you want. Just stop the screaming!' You can't take it anymore and will do anything just to get out of the situation. You'll deal with the repercussions later, and the two of you will discuss better ways to handle the situation in the future. For good measure, you buy yourself a Snickers; after all, you deserve a little reward for surviving through that tantrum!

Option F:
"I'm trying to help you, and you're screaming at me. I'm happy to talk this over when you're reasonable." You walk away. You did the best you could, and your child wasn't willing to compromise. Next time, (s)he'll make a choice without arguing and you'll both be happier.

Option G:
Something else. What is it?

If you liked this post, you might enjoy APing Older Children: Allowances

Photo of vending machine by Rkob from here


  1. Camille, what did you do?
    C, D, and F are usually where I end up on good days in these situations (sometimes all three in the same event). If the child happens to have brought money, D can be a life-safer, but I'm not usually that fortunate.
    Please someone post a G!

  2. What would I do? Honestly? Option E, without a doubt, down to the Snickers for me. How *did* you know?! Anything just anything to stop the whining/meltdown. This would be after having tried C,D,F which never work with us.

  3. Are we living parallel lives?! Today, Arnav and I were deciding how many pieces of ginger chew to buy for the moth, from central market. First, he tried saying ginger is HEALTHY. I pointed to him that the 1st ingredient was evaporated cane sugar. he said "Atleast it's not high fructose corn syrup". And then he said "It has no artificial colors or preservatives." I said, let us find something you can enjoy that's also healthy. He finally picked Nadamoo icecream. I told him it also had tons of sugar and was not possible to buy. His immediate response, "Not POSSIBLE? Not POSSIBLE? FLying without a PLANE is not possible. This is just something you think we SHOULD NOT do. It is NOT NOT POSSIBLE." I had to agree, and then he started wearing me down. FInally, oh dear, I BOUGHT the Nadamoo icecream because recently I've started to think saturated fats from certain sources (like coconut) is healthy (according to ayurveda) which was his next pitch. All of these kids, they need to be lawyers. Or, in sales. The arguments are all ready, pat one after the other. In the car he says, "I knew you'd buy it once you realized it had fat from coconut!" What can I say?! I am DUMB!!!!

  4. Ooh, very interesting comments. I'll throw in my opinions after another couple of days. I would love to see what others have to say!

  5. Ideally I'd choose D. (Assuming I'm having a somewhat sane day, LOL!)

  6. Speaking of food, here's what your son had for dinner tonight: Steamed mussels, brown rice, and a healthy amount of beer-battered fish. I think he even tried the basil aioli!

  7. Camille, I am loving your blog today. I have to imagine that you witnessed this very interaction go down with Rosie and me a few months ago. I seem to recall that I chose to buy her the Oreos. I think I chose Option A.