the littlest enabler never falls far from the tree

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what a funny, funny morning…delightfully mixed with darks and lights and now one fresh latte. see, here’s the thing…i love coffee. i’ll go so far as to say that i am in a long term, committed relationship with coffee. if i were to display my relationship status on Facebook, it would say “in a relationship with coffee.” i both gulp and savor the coffee that i make at home using my killer Bunn coffee maker with the insulated caraffe (oh yeah)…i really do. it wakes me enough to get my daughter and i to her daycare and me back home for work, and fuels some seriously furious writing and working in my early morning hours. i love a nice french press…i’ll even drink hotel room coffee on my way to get better coffee.

and then there’s this other kind, the kind that rounds out this bottom-most layer of my personal food pyramid. that foundational element of my nutrition is…starbucks. and you purists, you big-business haters can say what you will, i also frequent my local roaster for beans and yummy things…but starbucks has replaced one of my favorite childhood treats, the happy meal, with the happy cup (also a meal in my world…hey there’s milk in there!).

and so i beget a brand new dietary legacy, developing from careful and early exposure to the crack-like attraction, the siren call of starbucks and her twin-tailed mermaid. my two and half year old will wave off a chicken nugget every time. she’s never asked for a happy meal (i’m not sure she’s ever seen one. i’ve ordered some since she’s been alive, but only for me…i get first dibs on the prize that way and take the junk food hit for the team). but this morning, as we buckled in for our short car ride to school, after a nice breakfast for her including a tall glass (aka sippy cup) of milk, she announced proudly and clearly that we “have to go to starbucks first.”

i gasped in the back of my throat, choked up, almost teary-eyed. she’s so mine. sigh.  it was the first time for her, unprompted. if you couldn’t tell she was a mini-me at first sight, if you somehow missed her becoming an obvious chip off the ol’ chatterbox these last months, the clarity and firmness with which she announced her desire for starbucks this morning, or the way she sometimes calls her milk “my coffee,” is the clearest giveaway i know. how could i say no? i didn’t need more coffee, she didn’t need more milk…but she coaxed me with repeat calls for a juicebox…the kind only starbucks can offer, the beverage i could not deliver from the front seat of my sporty mom-wagon (and before you mark me delusional, please know that i understand the oxymoronic nature of that expression).

i promise, i haven’t actually tried to indoctrinate my daughter into the starbucks culture. i’m not trying to establish brand loyalty at age 2, especially not to a global chain. (i’m also NOT giving her actual coffee…i am sane enough to treasure a toddler’s naptime)…but like Ronald spun my world of rewards as a kid, becoming iconic, and the benchmark for the fast food group that sits a bit higher on my pyramid than coffee, starbucks’ specific flavors are laying lifetime foundations in her tiny, busy brain. what i mean about benchmarks, for both mcdonalds and now starbucks, is that there are “better” fries in the world, more “gourmet” chicken nuggets…but for me, mcdonalds is a separate flavor set, striking always familiar chords on my tastebuds, dancing comforting lullabies on my tongue…kind of how taco bell isn’t mexican food, it’s the taco bell food group (six ingredients, mixed two-hundred ways).

i didn’t need more coffee…i’ve been trying to cut back actually (failing miserably, happily and spastically). so i wavered, i waffled and then decided that since she asked, and it was her first time, i really should reward her ability to articulate in words what she wants. yeah. that’s right. it’s good parenting.  granted, she faked me out with the juicebox thing and lobbied for the chocolate milk when we arrived. i caved. she eats and drinks well at her daycare…all that wholesome, home-cooked food i can’t pronounce but that she can say in three languages…a little chocolate milk in the morning never killed anyone…especially toothpicks like her and me.

“have to have starbucks FIRST (please)” –  awe….ok, i had to prompt for the “please” part…but that lilting two and half year old voice, those clear, blue velvet eyes, the call of a siren i can hardly resist anyway. what the, um…heck…was i supposed to do? i won’t give in every time, but a girl’s first time is special.

my latte is already gone, as though it never happened. her chocolate milk is in the fridge, not even half-finished. she has way better self-control than i do. hopefully she will help keep her and her mommy’s vices in check…and to herself for a while.

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