Some days, I feel like our home is the neighborhood grocery store.
My son, 11, is always handing out food and drinks to everyone, including his close friends, their siblings, and often other neighborhood kids. Some are getting so used to this they’re asking to eat lunch at our house.
Um, no, and, yes, I know it’s my own fault. I am the parent, after all.
Come Monday morning, our juice boxes, my husband’s Sprite and snack packs intended for our son to take to school often are gone.
We can’t afford to feed the entire neighborhood, so we decided to set some rules based on advice from my mom friends on Facebook.
Here are some of their suggestions:
My friend, Kim, a freelance writer and blogger for Our Orlando: Family fun for locals, said, “I’d just tell the kids that if they’re going to treat your house like 7-Eleven, then they need to pay up! I don’t have the money to feed the whole neighborhood.”
She also said that it takes a village to raise a kid, “so sometimes you feed them, and sometimes you teach them manners, like not inviting themselves to people’s houses.”
Another friend, Dawn, says she loves to feed people and especially kids. “I like to be the house all the kids love to be at, but they also know there are rules. One thing I do, is about once a month I shop at Harvest Time. Then, it’s not so painful when it disappears in 30 seconds flat.”
Friend Candy thinks it’s a tremendous compliment that my son’s friends want to come to my home to play or hang out. She suggests substituting soft drinks and unhealthy juices with gallon jugs of spring water and replacing the unhealthy snacks with apples, oranges and other fresh vegetables prepared in advance.
I like these ideas a lot, and I am glad we have a home that kids feel comfortable coming to. I know that is not the case for many children.
Kim, like Candy, also suggests small water bottles and preparing baby carrots and having them in snack-sized baggies. “Or buy the kids their own reusable water bottles and put their names on them. Then have them fill up from the fridge.”
Kris, who has boys, suggests we tell our son the food in the fridge is ours, and he needs to ask my permission to give our food and drinks to his friends. “Then sometimes a little lesson in home economics. I would say to him, ‘your friends can have a glass of water if they are thirsty.’” Or have inexpensive snacks and drinks he could offer his friends without your permission. “When kids come over to my house, I only have water for them to drink and I usually have a snack,” she said. “Otherwise, it gets very expensive.”
So here’s what we are going to do: My son will have to ask if his friends can have something to eat or drink, and he won’t again put out a half jar of salsa on a plate with Tostitos again for everyone to eat. Did I mention that he doesn’t even eat salsa? Or drink Sprite?
What we will offer from now on are inexpensive snacks and drinks, probably water mostly, and that will be that.
But, if some day we want to feed everyone lunch, that will be our decision.