I've been meaning to confess this for awhile, so here goes:
My small children drink coffee. *gasp*
In the US, we're fed on the myth that coffee is just for adults, that it will stunt kids' growth, they'll get all hyped up on the caffiene and won't be able to sleep, etc, etc. All our predjudices about coffee are part of our culture, not entirely based in fact (execpt that the effects of caffiene are pretty well documented, I'll give you that).
When I worked at a chilren's home and new volunteers from the US would come and see the small children drinking coffee right before bed, they were all generally out of their minds concerned about this. "I've got to put a stop to this! Kids drinking coffee before bed! Tsk!"
But trying to stand in the way of culture is like trying to stand in the way of a moving train. One person, no matter how concerned, can no change someone else's culture. Everyone does it. Everyone goes to sleep at night. The average Mexican is, indeed, usually shorter than the average American, but that's thanks to genetics, not the effects of early coffee consumption.
Clara and I spent a month with my mother-in-law when Clara was about a year and a half old. My mother-in-law LOVES coffee. She also has a collection of child-size mugs. After a month with the abuela, Clara decided that she loved coffee, too. (She got half coffee, half milk mini-mugfuls.) At the time, I was more concerned about her sugar intake instead of her caffiene intake, and would give it to her without sugar. She still thought it was a best thing ever.
And now that I'm more liberal with the sugar, she's still a sucker for coffee, anytime we make it.
The Boy, on the other hand, is against hot drinks of any form.
Ironically, or perhaps because of this early exposure to coffee, Mexicans in general don't have the same addiction to coffee that gringos do. I could be mistaken, but the Mexicans I know best regard coffee as a nice treat (a daily treat, if you're my mother-in-law, but a treat nonetheless). Starbucks and the Italian Coffee Company do abound here, but I can't say I've met any Mexicans who have the same dependence on coffee that so many gringos have. That, "Oh-My-God-I-Can't-Function-Without-My Morning-Coffee" dependence.
You know what I'm talking about.
Witnessing these two cultural views to coffee, I think I'll stick to the safer, less addicting route, and give my children coffee early in life. True, there's no gaurantee that their gringo side won't rear up and they will become addicts eventually.
But I'll take my chances.