What he must eat

I’ve learned a lot by sending my sons to a daycare where many of the families are served by public services. In my white, middle class, privileged world we might get suggestions on what we should do for our children from our pediatrician, or Oprah, or our parents. But in this other world, there are all these mandates that come down from on high to try to help less educated, poorer people treat their children appropriately. Frankly, when you’re on the receiving end of these, they sound bossy. You wonder if you’ll get in trouble if you don’t follow them. It’s as though there are far more rules there than there are in my world.

Case in point.

I was feeding Thane today (actually, I was bouncing him on my knee because he wasn’t hungry) and I mentioned that I was thinking of starting him on solids. The daycare lady looked relieved and brought me over a sheet she had been given by the folks who control her all-powerful license. It was a rule sheet that said all children 4 – 7 months of age MUST be given cereals at breakfast and at snack (3 tablespoons) and an additional fruit or vegetable at lunch — in addition to fortified formula or breast milk. Must.

What a spot to put my care provider in. Defy her licensers? Defy me AND provide cereal if I decided to wait until 6 months to give him solids? Sneak past me? Sneak past them? Tell me I also MUST follow these guidelines and start him on solids, even if I thought he wasn’t ready?

I can understand why they do it. The folks who promulgate these policies aren’t bad, or even wrong. My pediatrician also says 4 months is a good time to start thinking about solids. I guess the difference is that I am given information and possibilities and expected to use my judgment. In some ways, this daycare provider and women like her are a conduit of information from our government to poor parents, saying “This is what you ought to do in order to raise a healthy child.” I am simply unused to being on the receiving end of those pronouncements, or being told what I MUST do.

In this case, it’s not a big problem. I think Thane is ready for some real food this weekend. I’ll send some cereal and food with him on Monday. But it is still an odd feeling.