Oliver’s first birthday is in less than a month, and we have a dilemma:
Birthday cake isn’t Paleo.
So how, then, will Oliver experience that ubiquitous rite of passage involving two fists and a face full of confectionary goodness? What sort of first birthday photos will he have to look back on when he’s older? Will he grow up with “issues” because instead of cake, we served him a juicy ribeye or some scrambled eggs with a single candle in the middle?
Joking aside, I recently brought this quandary to J’s attention. He looked at me skeptically, and then exclaimed, “Are you serious? Of course we’re not going to give him cake!”
“But the pictures…” I began to protest, before realizing that if I were to be completely honest with myself, this whole cake dilemma was not about Oliver; it was about me.
I wanted Oliver to have a birthday cake. I wanted to see his eyes light up when he experienced his first taste of soft, moist cake and sweet, sticky frosting. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even know what he’s missing.
I wanted cute pictures of Oliver shoving fistfuls of cake in his mouth, icing covering his face, so I could post them on Facebook and immortalize them in his baby album. He will probably find them humiliating when he’s older.
On the other hand, do I really want to ruin our little tabula rasa — whose tastebuds have yet to be tainted by the evils of sugar and processed foods — at such a young age? There will be many, many years of opportunities to indulge in junk food.
We have invested so much effort and thought into helping our son develop the best dietary habits we know of. We have rejected so much of the conventional wisdom on child nutrition (and many other aspects of child-rearing). Why, then, should I find myself so compelled by a silly little tradition?
The rational side of me says we should just skip the cake altogether. Oliver won’t miss it, and we won’t run the risk of starting to let his diet slide off the rails (you know how “just this once” turns into “once in a while,” and then it’s all downhill from there?). But the emotional side of me thinks that I’ll somehow regret not having that precious memory of the first birthday cake.
So here’s what I’m going to do: I am going to bake a Paleo birthday cake! It’s a win-win solution, as far as I can tell. Oliver gets his birthday cake, I get my memories and photos, and when all is said and done, we don’t commit any serious dietary transgressions.
In principle, I am against the idea of “Paleo-ifying” junk food, but I’m willing to relax my stance for this very special milestone in Oliver’s life.
I just might have to do a test-run before the big day, to — you know — make sure it all works ;).
Have you ever found yourself in conflict between your nutritional beliefs and a tradition? What did you do?