Mary Grace and Claire have been enrolled in swimming lessons at the local municipal pool for the past two weeks. They have gone every day for 25 minutes to learn to blow bubbles in the water. Last night MG told us that today was their "party," because it's the last day of the session, and that they needed to bring snacks.
We thought that she was confused. Surely there's no need to bring snacks for a 25 minute class at a pool, right? I mean, seriously. We can't go 25 minutes without eating? The class is from 9 - 9:25 am. They just had breakfast for God's sake. We figured that she learned at preschool that party = snack, and we chose to not send a snack.
BJ just texted me and said that MG was right, they were supposed to bring a snack today.
Snack was the hardest part of preschool for me. I understand that some kids don't get breakfast, and so it might make sense for those kids to get a snack in the morning between breakfast and lunch. Most of those kids, however, don't go to our preschool. If parents can't afford breakfast for their kids, how are they going to pay for preschool that costs $75 a month? Preschool only runs from 9 - 11:30 am. It's not like the average kid in our fairly affluent town is going to starve to death if they eat breakfast at 8 and then lunch at noon and nothing in between! And if there is a kid in the class who is at risk, they could make special arrangements for him instead of feeding the whole class daily.
However, the school disagrees, so every day we had to have a snack. Fine, whatever. I didn't want to become that mom over this. I've got 18 years of being that mom in my future, why start over snack?
|A cupcake for Fat Tuesday - coincidence?|
Mary Grace always saved at least half of her snack to share with Claire (awwww!), so I didn't worry too much about her overeating, but for plenty of other kids, overeating is a serious, serious problem. One third of our nation's children are overweight.
Look, I understand that everyone needs a treat once in a while. I understand that breaking the rules and eating cake for breakfast every now and then makes for good memories. I understand that eating junk and not giving a rip is part of what makes childhood fun and special. They have their whole lives to eat salads, why start now? (Actually, because Claire likes them and orders them in restaurants, that's why, but that's another post). But when we can't celebrate the tiniest, most insignificant milestone (like finishing a two freakin' week swimming class) without eating something, I think we've got a problem. When we get treats all the time, for every little thing, they cease to be special.
|This isn't what I want for my kids.|
OK, BJ just got home with the kids and their "goodie bags," which contained:
- A juice box
- Three homemade cookies
- A snack-sized package of Scooby Doo graham cracker snacks
- A snack-sized package of Mini-Oreos
- A Tootsie Roll
And now BJ and I are the bad guys because we aren't letting them dive in head first. He let them eat the cantaloupe and the (small) Tootsie Roll while they were there.
It's going to have to start with us. We, as parents, are going to have to be the bad guys and we're going to have to say, "Enough is enough! They don't need a snack during a 2-1/2 hour class! They don't need a party after finishing a 2 week class! And if you want to have a reward - fine, have a party, but don't center it around food! Give them a coupon for free admission to the pool, instead. That makes a hell of a lot more sense than giving them a 750 calorie bag of junk food after a class that their parents enrolled them in to promote physical fitness!"
We're going to have to demand that the government stop double-subsidizing garbage (first subsidizing the farmers who grow the corn to make the HFCS, then giving the poor food stamps and allowing them to buy soda full of the poison). Why don't they subsidize apples? Or broccoli?
I've had it. I was ready to call the people in charge of the swim class and give them a piece of my mind, but BJ pointed out that we have the option to opt out of the optional swimming classes. Fine. He's right. We'll vote with our wallets, both with the classes and at the grocery store. Because I love my kids I will continue to be the bad guy. And I'll hope that they'll understand when they're the only kids in their third grade class who can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.