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M&Ms for Dinner

M&Ms for Dinner


When our Heart Warrior was little, I had an experience that played itself out pretty regularly. He took a late nap, woke up grumpy, and wanted M&Ms. I know, I know, who doesn't wan

t M&Ms when they’re grumpy, right? I, being the terrible parent I am, told him he had to eat dinner first. He pouted, he cried. He kept demanding M&Ms, but I wouldn't budge (heartless, I know).


Here's the thing – when this happens, there is this conversation that goes on in my head.

Me - "Come on! He just wants some M&Ms. He has half a heart."

Me (again, I am arguing with myself) - "Candy for dinner is NOT going to help his health challenges."

Me - "But he might DIE!!! Who the hell are you to take away a simple pleasure from a little boy who is living with half a heart and who brings so much joy to so many? You don't know how long he has!"

Me - "Candy for dinner is NOT going to help his heart. He needs healthy food to grow. Garbage in - garbage out."

Me - "But, he has half a heart! He might die before he ever gets to taste M&Ms again! You are a terrible parent! Heartless!"

Me - "That is probably true, that I am a terrible parent, Likely, even. But, we are going to treat him as much like any of our other children as possible. THEY ate their burritos. He LOVEs burritos. If he eats a stupid burrito, he can have M&Ms"

Me - "sigh...big meanie!"

And then, I feel terribly guilty, but I still do not give him M&Ms for dinner. But I


stand by my assertion that he must eat healthy food before having M&Ms, because I am playing the long game. I don’t know how long he has - that’s true. If we’re honest, I don’t know how long any of us have, none of us do. I work on the assumption that he will have a long, happy, relatively healthy life. Statistics may suggest other options, but I ignore them. I’m not saying no M&Ms ever, I’m saying he can have a few after he eats food that will help him grow. I’m saying I do not want to encourage the development of diabetes in our heart warrior. I’m saying I want to help him establish healthy living choices and understand moderation the same way we do with all of our other “heart healthy” kids. I’m saying I hope he DOES live to be an old man, and when that happens, I don’t want his body to be in such horrible shape that his life is of low quality, because I made bad food choices for him. I’m saying if I give in today, or the next time, when will I stop. He will always have half a heart – until it starts to fail. Only then can he be listed for transplant.


The reasons I want to give in and give him whatever he wants won’t go away, they will continue for as long as he continues. I am trying to raise a human being who will have compassion, understand moderation, exercise self-control, and not be a jerk. Part of the human condition, some days a large part, is understanding that you cannot get what you want every single time you want it. I do his older self no favors by leading him to believe otherwise. Delayed gratification and making healthy choices before unhealthy ones are life skills he must all learn. For whatever reason, the universe gave this child to ME. I was chosen to raise him. We were chosen to be his family. I take that job seriously, which means - No M&Ms for dinner!




Recently, those small, hard-shell candies have made the news because some people consider their spokescandies to be “controversial.” Although my personal M&Ms controversy comes from a very different place, all I can say is some people are late to the party. I have been wrestling with myself over M&Ms for years now. I still don’t let him eat candy instead of dinner. I’ll stand by my decisions. I am playing the long game - I am praying for a long life.




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