Damn you, Peppa Pig.
Not only has my son’s interest in puddle jumping skyrocketed to an obsession-like level (he even says ‘muddy puddle’ in a British accent) but he asks me, “You Mommy Pig, right mom?” and calls J, “Daddy Pig.” That would be fine, I suppose, if he didn’t say “Daddy Pig has big, big tummy,” like they do in the show (J is not amused). And now, thanks to you Peppa (and probably Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat), Lil’ D keeps asking for cake—more specifically, a birthday cake.
For the last two years I chose not to give D a traditional cake. Year one, I still wanted the obligatory cake smash photos so I adopted a sweetener-free oatmeal banana baby cookie recipe and frosted the “cake” with coconut milk “whipped cream.” Year two, I still wasn’t giving D processed sugar treats so he celebrated with his favorite fruits (he’s still my little fruit bat).
This year D asked about a birthday cake and even showed me how to blow out the candles. While I love to bake (eat?) treats, I wanted this first cake to be special (and since I battle my own sugar demons, baking can sometimes—okay, always—leads to overeating). I ordered a small chocolate cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting from my favorite White Rabbit Bakery in Aurora (home of lots of gluten-free, vegan and even paleo goodies).
Even during pregnancy, both my husband and I were adamant that our child would be refined sugar free for as long as we felt was possible. Although I love all things sweet, it’s pretty obvious that sugar is detrimental to optimum health. Numerous studies prove that sugar feeds disease like cancer and is as addictive as crack but people still ask why I choose to feed (or not feed) my son in this way. I’m told he only “likes” healthier food because he doesn’t know better. My response, simply: D will get to eat his fair share of cookies, candy, cake, ice cream and other treats in his lifetime but why start now? I don’t want to prime his palette to choose sugar over whole, nutritious food.
Now that he’s close to three, I’m much more lax: D loves ketchup (he’s even had the regular kind with—gasp— high fructose corn syrup) and jelly and likes to go on Mom/Dom dates for coffee and hot chocolate. He loves cookies but I try to make a healthier version with almond flour and coconut sugar or honey. He may only like them because he doesn’t know better but I’m happy he doesn’t know worse.
I want to clarify: this was important to me and my husband—I do not judge the parents of babies given sweets in moderation. With my relationship with sugar (more on that at a later date), this was really the only way I could feed my son. It makes me feel, at least in one area, like good mom—not a better mom than anyone else but a good mom. And I hope that cancels out some of my bad parenting habits, because, let’s face it; I obviously let D watch way too much Peppa Pig!
D ate his first cake! He liked it, but seemed to like the show if it more: the presenting of the platter, singing “Happy Birthday,” blowing out the candles (“I blow really really hard,” he said) and slicing the cake.
With every bite, he’d point to a different layer and ask, “What’s this?” I’d answer (chocolate cake, frosting or raspberry filling) and he’d nod his head in a why-of-course-it-is kind of way. I asked him if it tasted good and he answered, “Tastes like birthday.” D ate about half a slice before wanting to play, but I made sure his cake didn’t go to waste. I did leave him another bite for when he woke from his nap.
His first cake experienced was exactly what I had hoped for—utterly yummy, but without the crazy sugar high and crash. He ate a bit, but wanted to play with his birthday puzzle more. I hovered over his plate like a sugar vulture, swiping finger-fulls of frosting when no one was looking.