I had to focus my blog on an experience I had at my children’s school. I am a volunteer mom for my daughter’s class with the Accelerated Reader program. Basically, students get rewarded when they make 10%, 20%, etc. of their goal. In years past, the rewards were always candy or food of some sort. Last year, I coordinated a wellness council at the school and one of the things we were successful in doing was getting rid of the candy rewards they used to give and switched to stickers, pencils, etc. There was still an ice cream party when the class hit 50% and a pizza party when they hit 100%. However, this year, our brand new principal put the nix on that as well. (Yeah!)
I sat in that meeting and instead of discussing how the program works and our responsibilities, the meeting turned into an uprising against this new mandate. I was in the back just soaking everything in. The mom who is the main lead stood up there and while shrugging her shoulders and rolling her eyes would say things like “I’m supposed to be supportive, this is what we’ve been told to do, I know, it’s ridiculous, I don’t agree with it, etc” The rest of the parents in the room just started a complete revolt against the idea of eliminating food as rewards. Here’s some of the things I heard…
“Well, we’ll just do it anyway.”
“What else can we possibly do as a reward”
“All kids care about are the ice cream and pizza parties”
“Don’t these people understand that ice cream and pizza is the only thing that will motivate these kids?”
“It’s only one day, good grief.”
“My kid should be allowed to eat whatever they want.”
“The kids will allergies can just bring something else to eat that day”
There was not one voice of opposition until I chimed in. I tried, as tactfully as possible, to explain the premise for the new rule. I explained that kids are not getting any healthier out there, that research has shown that foods as rewards develops strange associations with food, that it is not just one day, it is all day long every day, that childhood obesity is skyrocketing, etc. Do you know that not one person spoke up in agreement? They all stared daggers through me and looked at me as if I had three heads.
I left that meeting totally dejected and flabbergasted. If parents don’t give a crap what their kids are eating, and actually encourage the consumption of this crap- no wonder we are in the state we are in. Not only that, my hope for the future came into major doubt. I just could not believe that so many parents allow and encourage their kids to eat this unhealthy food.
When I relayed this story over the next couple of days, I was fed even more examples of what I had experienced in that meeting. One friend of mine said she was planning a Valentine’s Day celebration for her daughter’s class- no one else volunteered to. She sent an email out saying she was going to arrange strawberries in the shape of a heart and bring some other fruit. She said she received several emails saying that their kids wouldn’t eat that and that they would bring in something else. So she went from a healthy celebration to a spread of cookies, cupcakes, and pigs in blankets. Come on parents, are you kidding me?
Let’s just indulge our kids in anything their little hearts desire, teach them that when they do well or are sad or are upset or need to celebrate to stuff their faces full of junk. Let’s thwart anyone who dares to suggest a healthy celebration and wheel in the cupcakes! Lets blame genetics and bad luck when our children are obese, have diabetes before they are teenagers, get cancer, have allergies, asthma, etc. because there is no way the food they eat is contributing.
I just can’t even imagine what goes through people’s heads. How can anyone find fault with attempts to encourage better health? It just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Granted, my kids don’t always eat the way I want them to and yes, they have the occasional treat but I at least realize that the choice is bad and that I need to try to overcompensate with good, healthy food. It is hard not to indulge our kids. BUT, it is our job to lead not pamper, to be a good example, to discipline, to be a parent not a friend.
I for one will not conform to this backwards way of thinking. I’ll just keep living my life, striving for better health, and trying my best to get others to do the same.