Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No Cupcakes for You!

I just read an article about school districts deciding to ban parents from bringing cupcakes and the like to school for their child's birthday.


They have got to be joking, right?

There was a quote from one of the principals who said that if they wished, the parents could bring raw carrots for the birthday and that would be ok. Or celery and hummus.

Double argh.

I realize that nowadays, everything has from Groundhog Day to Halloween has a party at school. But a child's birthday is a special day and I don't agree that by bringing treats into the classroom, you should consider yourself a guilty accomplice in childhood obesity.

It makes no sense to forbid certain foods in the schools when all children have to do is go home and eat the very same things. I think if a parent wants to bring a healthier snack, all the power to them, but don't make it a rule. As an apparently clueless mother who just this past Monday dropped off goody bags and cookies to her son's class for a mini-party, I am not in agreement with the method the schools are employing. As soon as you make a food taboo, the more the kids are going to want it. It's some kind law of the universe, I've discovered.

The way I see it, it is the behavior at home that most contributes to child obesity. Why the school is trying to address something that is a parent's responsibility, I am not sure.

Let's face it, kids just don't play the way they used to any more. Even as a child who was in the first generation of video game players a la Atari, I mostly chose to be active rather than sit and watch the then equivalent of "Kim Possible." We lived right next door to a liquor store, and I was a fixture, buying FunDips and Abba Zabbas and all manner of unhealthy things. But guess what? I was a total stick as a child, despite all the candy eating, because I moved a lot and played on the playground or in our yard in my spare time. Also, the bulk of my diet was healthy, my mother made sure of that. Television was a treat, not something that I got to flip on as soon as I walked in the door. Sometimes I had to bargain heavily to watch shows that were out of the approved time limit. Of course, there were no personal computers or cell phone texting competing for my time either. But I know my parents, and they would have been just as strict with the use of those as they were with the television watching.

But ultimately, it is the parents who are the guardians of their children's time. It is up to parents to set limits on phones, computers, television and unhealthy food. And parents these days just cannot seem to say no to their children anymore. For fear of what, I am not sure.

What parents, along with schools as a partner, need to do is teach their children moderation in all things. That is one of the most valuable life lessons we can teach.

But in the land of 5,000 square foot homes for three people, Hummers, and Bluetooths, who are we to impart anything of the sort?

And somehow, I just don't think the raw carrot idea for celebrating a birthday is gonna fly.

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