Ellie used to drink about 18 ounces of milk a day. Six in the morning, six in the afternoon, and six before bedtime. That went down to 12 ounces, and by the time we left for Japan, it was maybe 6 ounces. And when we were in Japan, it went down to zero. Well, apparently the milk is processed differently in Japan because it tastes different. Aya said she had a hard time adjusting to Japanese milk in the beginning when she first moved from the States to Japan. So sure enough, Ellie wanted no part of it. Not even just a little bit. She was completely turned off. So after trying for five days and wasting milk (I sure didn’t want it, it tasted funny!), we decided to let it go. She would be without milk for just a few weeks, it’d be okay. She would be excited for milk when we got back. At least that’s what we were thinking.
I tried right away getting her back on milk, but she didn’t want it. “Milk!? That was so three weeks ago!” I tried it warm, cold, in a glass, in a sippy cup, and in a bottle. Every combination I tried she turned her nose up to it. “I don’t need no stinking milk!” Hmmm… Now what?
I polled some friends to get a few ideas on how to be sneaky with it. I tried giving her cereal. It was completely new and could be fun. But she took one big bite, made a face, and spit it out. I tried vanilla milk, strawberry milk, and chocolate milk. Every time, she looked at me with a sly smile and said, “You can’t pull one over on me buddy. You’re sneaky, but I’m on to you!”
I was out of options and a little puzzled on what to do next. She loves yogurt and other dairy products. It seems that all you hear about is how a little kid needs milk so much. Milk milk milk milk! But she hadn’t had milk in two months, and she was still growing, and she was getting calcium from other sources. And there are all kinds of kids who are lactose intolerant and doing just fine, so it can’t be as essential as it’s made out to be, right? Maybe she really doesn’t even need milk? Maybe we could finally give up this cute little game we were playing.
I did my own reading and research, but I wanted to consult her pediatrician too just to make sure. I feel fortunate that Ellie has a pediatrician that both Aya and I really like and trust. So I really wanted permission from the doctor to make me feel good about this. And just as I suspected, the doctor agreed with me. There are plenty of other sources kids can get calcium and other nutrients that are in milk.
It wasn’t what we planned for, but Ellie pretty much directed us, much like when she was ready to step up her eating game, or when she was ready for her big girl bed. There are so many pseudo-manuals on how to raise kids, but I guess sometimes all we have to do is just listen to them and they’ll let us know, right? And so, I gave up my sneaky plans of trying to trick my daughter into drinking milk.
And just as I finally threw in the towel on Operation Milk, one morning as I ate my bowl of cereal, she stole it, ate the cereal and drank the milk right out of it. What? All those times I tried or even forced her to drink milk she didn’t want anything to do with it and now this. Was this whole thing just a game? Well, at least I know that whether she drinks milk or not, she’s going to be just fine. I just know that when I have cereal, I’ve got to pour two bowls now.