A few minutes ago my husband called me from the swim meet where he is watching Katherine compete. Along with a random inquiry about our plans to sign her up for soccer this fall, he added, "Katherine wants to know if she can have a piece of candy."
A piece of candy, a piece of candy....a small sweet nothing to melt on the tongue...what could possibly be wrong with that? Why did I sigh and roll my eyes and have to think for a moment before saying (grudgingly), "Sure, she can have a piece of candy."
The problem is, that one small piece of candy is part of a never-ending tidal wave of candy, ice cream, soda, gum, milkshakes, cake, cookies and popsicles, pudding, and pie that I am constantly trying to hold back with ineffectual sandbags of maternal authority. I do not want to deprive my kids by having them miss out on treats, but I do resent the fact that, what should be occasional goodies, are thrown at them on a daily basis.
Back to this evening, before I answered Clay, I quickly inventoried the treats she had eaten up to that point. Not too bad, I decided, just the cookies at this morning's swim practice. I am not sure how many she ate as I was not there, but let's hope no more than two.
Every day I run the numbers in this fashion. Thursday, she will have pancakes after swim practice and a birthday party in the afternoon (cake, probably ice cream, possibly soda, and chips.) She will definitely be over quota that day...hoping we can rein it in on Friday to compensate.
While on one hand I see articles everywhere on childhood obesity and shortened life spans that are predicted for our children as a result, it seems that much of society is ignoring this information, fixated on shoveling junk down their throats instead of offering healthier treats. Teachers reward students with candy and gum; the school cafeteria offers a dessert option with lunch every single day; playing in the yard they hear the ice cream man's jingle; turn on the TV and there is an ad for fast food.
I am grateful beyond measure that I do not have to worry about the sorts of contagious diseases that parents of yesteryear had to guard against (measles, polio, etc) but I do feel they had the upper hand when it came to diet. Sugary snacks and drinks were truly a treat to be savored rarely, not an expectation with nearly every meal and nibbled in between meals.
So, I limit and bargain and try to throw as many whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, at my kids as possible...to balance out the junk food in some form or fashion. Meanwhile, Katherine returned from the swim meet a few minutes ago, an empty bag of "gummies" in one hand and a Sprite in the other. Sigh. So much for one piece of candy...can I somehow persuade her to skip the ice cream at the party tomorrow?
Mary Becelia lives with her husband and two children in Stafford, VA.