The Soda Culture

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Categories Feeding Older Children, Mommy Issues, Other people, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , 13 Comments

The first graders at my daughters’ school took a field trip to see Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. I’m all for field trips. If this one got kids excited about Dr. Seuss and reading, so much the better.

There was one thing about the field trip announcement that bothered me, though. The movie snack pack would include popcorn, soda and a treat.

This note describes a school field trip to see The Lorax.

Am I alone in the universe in thinking that giving 5- to 7-year-old children soda to drink crosses a line? The popcorn, and even the candy, don’t bother me much. We eat both these things at home, in moderation. Adding soda to that, though, seemed like too much. All the more astonishing to me was that my girls weren’t even offered water, even though I’d jotted a note on both their permission slips requesting water for them. At lunch, too, they told me that they were only offered sodas.

J and M’s first exposure to sugary sodas was soon after we moved to El Paso. They were given it at daycare. They then stopped going to daycare, and fast. Once they’d had a taste, I didn’t think that forbidding sugary drinks would accomplish the goal of good decision-making. Instead, we struck a deal. When I drank soda, they could drink soda. This has been keeping us all honest. We limit ourselves to a sweet drink, other than juice or milk, once a month, just as we limit chocolate and other candy to once or twice a week.

Obviously, kids drinking soda is part of the culture here, but is it any surprise that we have an obesity problem? How can I encourage the kids to choose healthy options when their peers often don’t?

How do you go about bucking trends or local culture when you want your kids to choose differently?

Sadia, her husband, and their twin 5-year-old daughters, M and J, are still learning about the culture of the Borderlands, following a move to El Paso from Central Texas in August 2011.

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Peer Pressure

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Categories Feeding, ToddlersTags , 16 Comments

As with so many things, I thought I had more time on this one. I figured that when the kids started school the pressure would be on about what to wear, what to watch, what to play. I didn’t bank on feeling the effects of peer pressure at the age of 2 years, 5 months, with Maddie and Riley still in daycare.

 

Every day, I send a Tupperware container filled with plain, unsweetened yogurt to school with the twins. Yogurt is one of their favorite foods, and they’ve always eaten no-frills, no-sugar, full-fat deliciousness from an economy-sized tub. A couple of weeks ago, on our weekly trip to the grocery store, we stopped at the yogurt display. I reached for our usual.

 

“I want a LITTLE yogurt!” cried Riley.

“No that one,” added Maddie. “I wanna yogurt for the BABIES!” she gestured at the colorful YoBaby containers.

“Please, Mama, the little yogurt!” reiterated Riley.

“But this yogurt is SO GOOD!” I cheerfully pandered, putting the plain, white tub in our cart. “You LOVE this yogurt!”

 

Ha. Well. They did eat their usual yogurt over the weekend, and that Monday, I packed them off to school with the requisite Tupperware full for lunch. When I picked them up that day, their daycare provider said, “They don’t want to eat yogurt anymore. They see the other kid with this one [YoBaby], and they want that. Can you send them that?”

“Let’s see if it was just a fluke today. I’ve got their yogurts all packed for the week. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

All week it was the same story. “Can’t you just send them the baby yogurt?” Ruth queried.

 

Hmmm. In theory, yes, I can. It would even be easier for me to do so: one less thing to dole out into individual containers when I’m packing up our lunches on Sunday night. But while there are certainly worse things for them to eat, I’d rather not add another source of sugar to their diet if I can avoid it. And more important, they’ll still eat plain yogurt at home without complaint, even with gusto. The only time they demand the “little yogurt” is when they see other kids eating it. Pressure’s on.

 

This weekend, when we went to the store, I had a plan. When we got to the yogurt section, I was prepared.

 

“Mama! The LITTLE one!” said Riley.

“Well, guys, those little ones are for babies, and you’re big kids. But we can try this kind if you want!” I picked out a few containers of the only brand of yogurt on Whole Foods’ shelves that still uses plastic lids instead of foil tops. Maddie and Riley were giddy, and each of them grabbed for a container to hold. I also put a tub of regular yogurt in the cart. “These little ones are for you. The big one is for Mama,” I explained.

 

Maddie and Riley held their yogurts during our whole trip through the store. When we got home, I let them eat their little yogurts, some crackers, and some fruit for lunch. While they were napping, I rinsed out those little yogurt containers, and refilled them with plain yogurt from the big tub. I packed those repurposed little yogurts in their lunch bag for school yesterday.

 

“Did they eat their yogurt?” I asked when I picked them up.

“Yes, they were very happy to have a little one like that,” said Ruth.

“Oh, great. Could you be sure to send those containers home with me each day?” I requested. Ruth was happy to do so.

 

And so for now I have foiled peer pressure. I got off easy this time, and this kind of pressure was hardly something to fret about anyway. As they get older, the stakes will get higher. I worry about balancing my principles with Maddie and Riley’s desires, about giving them what they need to be part of the group without having them get lost in the herd. Being a parent becomes less physically demanding as your kids get older, but I can see that I’ve barely scratched the surface on the drama of social interactions and the complexities of interacting with peers. I need to remind myself to take a deep breath: this week, it’s just a yogurt. That I can handle.

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