Today in the supermarket I had a battle on my hands. My three children were with me, it’s Christmas and there is all manner of evil in your face.
It shouldn’t be sigh. It should be exciting. ExSIGHting. It should be all jingle bells and incoming holiday relief and looking forward to seeing everyone.
But no. It’s all “I WANT…” Today, they wanted me to buy 90 candy canes for them to distribute among their friends.
I’m all for giving Christmas cards to your friends. It’s a nice tradition, a show of care and a good handwriting and spelling exercise. But it’s also, in recently school years, become an excuse to hand out sugar. The thing to do, apparently, is to pop a candy cane in with your Christmas card.
Recently a local school announced their decision to ban candy canes at school, along with that irritating new tradition of taking cakes into school for birthdays. This opened a floodgate of criticism and even moved the Minister for Education to ask the school to rethink.
I say BRAVO to that school; more schools should consider it, for a number of reasons:
The reason sugar is so delicious is because when we were cave people, it was scarce.Our bodies need sugar in small amounts to function, so we needed a reason to go to all the trouble of finding it. So it is motivatingly delicious. Just because we now have piles of it at our disposal doesn’t mean we should be piling into our cake holes.
My children are keen to give a card, with candy cane, to everyone in the class. (Inwardly I think it wouldn’t hurt to give just your close friends a card but I won’t argue this point, you pick your battles). That’s an average of 30 candy canes given out. And that means that there is a chance my children will receive 30 candy canes back, 90 between them.
30 children with 30 birthdays means 30 days of eating cake at school. And 30 days of lunchboxes coming home with food still in them because the tummies were full of cake. Grrr. I put a lot of effort into those lunch boxes.
The World Health Organisation recommends that no more than 10% of our daily consumed energy should be derived from “free sugars” which include “added sugars” and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
So, if one candy cane has 11g of sugar (Spangler Candy) and 230 kilojoules, and I calculate my 10 year old’s energy requirements to be 8100kj per day, she would only need to eat 3 and a half candy canes, sniff a glass of orange juice and look at her muesli bar to be tipped over the edge. And don’t try to tell me that kids will restrict themselves to 3 candy canes a day if they have pockets full of them.
And why is sugar bad? Because it leads to tooth decay and is very high in calories so contributes to out obesity problem. Not to mention type 2 diabetes, behavioural problems, disruption to energy levels and addiction.
Add a chocolate every morning before breakfast when they open their advent calendar or pop a roll-up into their lunch box and we’re well on the way to raising a generation of grumpy, hyperactive, toothless fatsos.
My children said this to me today: “But Mum, EVERYONE gives candy canes, so we have to too.” Last week it was, “Everyone else gets chocolate advent calendars”. And the week before that, when my daughter turned seven, it was, “But I have to take cakes in, everyone does.”
And here I’m going to get all, “When I was little” because when I was little, no one had chocolates behind their advent windows. A little picture was enough to get me out of bed in excitement. And when I was little, Mum let us choose ten cards each from the charity card shop at the church in town. And we were thrilled with that. Thrilled. No one ever took a cake in for their birthday. We gave them a smile and a happy birthday song.
What will be next? “Mum everyone puts the tree up in October, gets a showbag on Boxing Day and a new phone for their birthday.”
Any other parents get the feeling we’re being had?
LOST TREAT PRIVILEGES
I like being able to treat my children to something sugary once in a while. I like to reward good behaviour or bribe them into something or be that cool mum who pops a teddy-bear biscuit into the lunch box (oh, wait, that’s not all that cool is it?).
If there are sugary gifts coming in left, right and centre, I am less inclined to use the treat card and I’m left with children thinking I’m mean and nasty. I resent that.
And I’m the parent, I pay the dentist bills, I get to choose when my children eat shit.
Anyway, what’s Christmas about anyway? Sweet Jesus.
(Please feel free to rebut. I (and my children) would be very, very happy to be convinced otherwise. It would save me a hell of a lot of no’s, eye rolls, grumpy stomping and time in the supermarket.)