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The Kids Are Alright

June 9, 2015

Friday I found out something interesting. One of the teachers at our local elementary school reads my blog. Hello Mrs. H! Like everyone else on the blog, we’ll keep her identity a closely guarded secret.

This fact arose on a field trip to the Bronx Zoo with Young Master Fussy while standing in line for the monorail. It was actually a highlight of a very, very long day. We boarded buses early in the morning, spent the day at the zoo, and came back just in time for a nasty snarl of traffic heading out of the Bronx.

But there were other interesting tidbits to come out of that day. What I enjoy about the zoo field trips is being able to observe all the different species of animals. The children especially. Now I’m keenly aware that my kids are tribal outsiders. We Bermans aren’t like most folk. What I didn’t realize was just how different we are.

Sugar.

We eat it. We don’t demonize it. But we eat it in moderation. Dessert of meals these days tends to be fruit, as we abandoned the wild ice cream eating days of our sabbatical in Princeton. Stewart’s is fine, but it’s no match for the glory of Halo Farm. Man, I still miss that place.

At the zoo, soda flowed like water. There were refillable soda cups that looked like they were at least a liter in volume. And when the kids were given this massive quantity of sugar, they didn’t seem to think it was any special occasion. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon in public before. Most kids don’t identify these large cups as some super colossal chalice of liquid candy.

The beverages seemed to garner no greater a reaction than as if it had been a cup of water. I shudder to think how many teaspoons of sugar were in the first serving, much less subsequent refills. For context, my poor deprived kids when they do get soda, usually only receive a third of a can. That’s four ounces. And for them, that’s a huge treat that they might get once a week at the very most.

But here’s the weird part.

And this isn’t going to be a shock to people like Mr. Dave and the growing army of sensible people around the country who chose not to panic at the hot button issues of our time.

The kids were fine.

Did some kids look like they were on the heavy side? Sure. But for the most part, I came away with the sense that kids can metabolize the crap out of crap food. And the whole experience made me think that perhaps we’re being a bit too overprotective of our children’s diets.

I think back to my own childhood when I would cram a half dozen Dunkin’ Donuts into my pie hole and wash them down with as many cans of Coke Classic as needed.

Sure, you can still make the argument that it’s important to teach kids what it means to eat healthful foods. Especially because that stunning youthful metabolism isn’t going to last forever, and if you grow up thinking that soda is the beverage that best washes down a meal, you’re going to be in for a world of pain down the road.

My hunch is that for the most part, body shape is just body shape. There are always going to be exceptions. But my own body seems to keep snapping back into itself. When I eat like a jerk it gets a little jiggly. When I restrict myself it gets a little firmer. But there is a clear equilibrium somewhere around 185 pounds. I suppose I could spend a lot of time and energy fighting it. Although I’m not quite sure why I would want to do that.

Instead, I’ll just try to remember that deep fried foods are a special treat. Ice cream is something that I should probably buy in small quantities and not keep as a staple around the house. Beer, wine and spirits are taste sensations, but they aren’t tastes I need to enjoy every day.

It’s amazing how quickly the excesses of China have been shed by using that simple formula.

Plus I’m going to try and relax a bit more about what the kids eat. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give them a satchel of candy to munch on during a multi-hour road trip any time soon. But I’m also not going to sweat letting Little Miss Fussy have dessert with dinner just because she has a chocolate milk with lunch. Nor will I deprive them of the joys of childhood, like the occasional donut breakfast or trip out for ice cream.

And if we’re spending the day at the zoo, the kids might get funnel cake AND ice cream.

That said, I’m sticking to my guns on soda. Actually, by now it’s no longer an issue. The fussy little children have already internalized that soda is liquid candy. So now my job is mostly to make sure the earlier brainwashing efforts are reinforced.

Fighting billions of dollars of consumer marketing campaigns takes time, but it can be done.

Of course that may all change once the kids are teenagers and they start rebelling against us. Man, that sounds like fun. Hopefully it will all work out in the end. I’m cautiously optimistic.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2015 10:52 am

    Ok I’ll try not to freak out when my child requests snapple with 46 grams of sugar when we’re out on an adventure. I don’t know how that compares to soda.

  2. June 9, 2015 11:14 am

    Who is “Mr. Dave?”

  3. June 10, 2015 9:57 am

    Before I had a kid I swore up and down I would raise a healthy kid who had no idea what sugar tasted like. When he was a baby I made all of his food from mostly local, organic, fruits and veggies. He’s not 3 and LOVES chips and ice cream and cake. Initially I was horrified but I’ve given in. Not that he eats them everyday but I realized I can’t shield him from them. They eat them at daycare, at birthday parties, and other events, and it kind of drives me nuts but I’ve come to realize its almost harmless. So many foods were restricted in my house growing up and I think it created a really unhealthy relationship with food, especially sugar (and I still struggle with it). So I’ve taken the approach of just exposing my kid to as many healthy foods as I can. i always offer them, they are always around, and I don’t say no to sugar (within reason). Soda still freaks me out. He’s never had any and I hope he never does but we’ll see.

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