The conversation went on, but the "I'm a better mother than you" kicker came though when I mentioned Monkey was excited to eat a cookie from a goodie bag in our hotel room. I said he didn't get a ton of cookies at home, so he was pretty psyched. This mom said that when her two-year-old ran towards the gift bag, she was worried what he'd come back with. The she said he came back with an apple, because he didn't know what a cookie was. Didn't. Know. What. A. Cookie. Was. Immediately my opinion of this mom changed. I don't care if a kid doesn't eat carrots, meat, milk, soy or whatever. That's not the issue at heart here. It's the control involved. It's the anxiety involved. It's the fear involved. If a two-year-old does not know what a cookie is that means that there are no cookies at home, which is fine. But that also means that at every birthday party, at every visit to someone's house, at every trip to the grocery store, that kid's parents are controlling or manipulating the situation so that he does not come in touch with a single cookie.
Let your kid see the cookies, try the cookies and tell your kid that they are something special to eat. You don't get them at every meal, you don't get them every day or maybe even every week, depending on the household. But every kid* should know what a cookie is by age two. Even the craziest health nut can find an organic, locally-sourced, flaxseed, bran-filled cookie that is suitable for a two year old. If your child doesn't know what a (insert food of choice here) is, that means that you fear what introducing that item to your life will mean. It means that you fear losing control or that you fear your child will love it so much that your child will end up on the side of the road, begging for money to buy said item. Fear is never a good basis for making decisions because it means your are running from the issue instead of addressing it. The way I saw it, that mom was so anxious about impressing upon her good motherhood (to a person she barely knew and whose opinion shouldn't matter) and keeping her kids out of harms way (however a cookie could harm a child) that neither she nor her kid got to sit together and enjoy a the delights of a shared cookie.
The lessons we impart to our children when introducing them to cookies, or television or even toys should be moderation. We teach them that everything has a time and a place, that food and entertainment can be fun and joyful, but not if we eat junk food all day or watch junk tv for hours. Monkey enjoyed the healthy food I packed that weekend and he also enjoyed the cookies and chocolates in the goodie bag and so did I.
*By "every kid" I mean every kid who lives in a place/town/country where food is plentiful enough that their biggest concern isn't whether they're going to eat dinner, but if they're going to get dessert afterwards.