Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Friday, 7 August 2009

I suddenly have a daughter



Ever wonder how to start being a full time parent of an eight year old girl? Two weeks ago step-daughter moved in to live with SR, The Lorax and me in Næstved. I was more than a little nervous about it. What do I (or SR for that matter) know about allowances, house rules, chores, etc? Add to that the fact that step-daughter loves a meat and potatoes diet and I have been a vegetarian for my entire adult life and don't have a clue how to prepare meat. Plus, her moving in corresponded with me starting a new full time job in Ophthalmlogy.

But what did step-daughter think? There were a million things going on subconsciously in her mind, but what she talked about was wanting frequent fast food, dessert with every meal, full access to the Disney Channel and not being forced to ride a bike.

I remember what it was like to be a kid. I would have been devastated if someone had taken away my Nintendo, Reading Rainbow or desserts!!

The thing is, SR and I just weren't going to put up with nights sitting around the tv eating fast food. We are too interested in the outdoors, exercise and staying healthy to live a life like that.

How could this work? One important thing SR has taught me is as long as kids have routines and attention, they are happy. As it turns out, we could decide the daily routine and still make step-daughter happy.

Here's how it's worked:

First we taught her to ride her bike. It involved a small amount of money. But now she loves it and she can ride to school and back and also ride along side of us while we run. Dare I say she is proud of how good she has gotten?

Here she is with SR after a muddy ride.




We have also played tennis with her a bunch of times and now she is good enough to start playing along. The Lorax takes pride in being the ball boy and also swings the racket a bit.


Yesterday we went to the pool and I taught her the crawl. She was an amazingly fast learner and is already better than a lot of adults. She can even put her head under and breath correctly. Now she can do laps next to me at the pool. I'm excited to see how quickly she will progress.

Arranging a healthy eating plan has not been as easy. We said no candy or desserts except for on the weekend. And we make three healthy meals a day. This has worked remarkably well as far as SR and me losing weight, but we're not so sure it's working yet for step-daughter. I knew we had a set back when I found a garbage can half full of peanut butter cup wrappers that had been smuggled in from the US. What kind of rules do you use with your kids in regards to eating? I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Here is a poem she just wrote:

Oh cheeseburger
Were are thou
cheeseburger
to me your a
pleaseburger


But the best part of having step-daughter here is no doubt how close we've become. Some of our best moments were taking walks in the woods, playing Matador (Danish Monopoly) or sitting in the sauna and talking about how gross boys are.


Last night she made some comment about not wanting to visit the United States unless it was with me. She is the type of girl who knows the right thing to say, but I think she meant it. We have both changed a lot, but perhaps me the most. She is no longer afraid of me deserting her and I am no longer afraid of really loving her.

Running Song of the Day:

The Way I Are by Timberland

6 comments:

The Chapples said...

Can you let her have fruit, yogurt, or some cut-up veggies for a snack? Kids do need to eat frequently and have different needs than adults do. Just a thought. That doesn't mean she needs to snack on junky stuff, just hate for her to feel deprived - that could just set her up for issues later. Most studies show that frequent small meals are a good way to even out both metabolism and food cravings. That way, one would never feel too hungry or too full.

I'll get off my soapbox, but as a chubby kid whose pediatrician told her mother that I should lose weight, it affected me in a terrible way. I think it's great you're encouraging exercise, but maybe have available a bowl of fresh fruit for her to take at any time?

sea legs girl said...

Oops!I wrote "snacks" instead of candy. No, we'd never drop snacks. I just had to edit it.

Great advice, though! All of it.

Phat Girl Slim said...

We'll have actual dessert in my house maybe twice a week. That's when we break out the ice cream or cookies ect. My kids really enjoy snacks like yogurt and apple slices. We're big fruit eaters here. We'll also get wild and crazy and have a fat free jello pudding cup for dessert sometimes!

I was a chubby kid too. I've battled with weight issues all my life and try hard not to pass my insecurities on to my kids. I try to talk about being a healthy weight more than being "thin". Not that I think this is what you're doing.

SteveQ said...

You shouldn't be agreeing with your daughter about how gross boys are - and I might tell you exactly why, once I wipe the boogers off this keyboard.

olga said...

I suddenly have an extra-son, but it is a bit easier for me:) It's like I got put back in time. Like my kids who are 5 years apart, Stephen and Harrison are also 5 years away. So, now I get to see Stephen do things Alex used to do to him. Play and nag all together:) I just need to make sure my new kid's real parents are ok with him maturing a bit faster, like staying home with Stephen with no adults, skate-boarding with no pads and diving off the couch to get a rug-rush occasionally. Oh, and NOT throw unfinished food into garbage and eat what is served to clean up the plate!

green light said...

One thing I remember most about travelling to Europe as a kid was how much better the food was. Everything was a treat -- the yogurt, the fruit, the bread, butter. I bet it won't be so hard to replace unhealthy habits with good stuff, while allowing space for the occasional true treat (ice cream, good european chocolate...). My guess is that eventually missing fast food will be more of a symptom of homesickness than a true craving for her.