We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

14 August 2007

Please don't offer my baby sweets!

Phew, with all the Doctor Who stuff behind me, I can get back to some social, political and philosophical thinking! Well, only occasionally... I'm not itching for a fight, but I feel the pressing need to vent my frustation at this 'sweet obsessed' culture I find myself in. Now Americans have been the butt of many British jokes about obesity and foul diets, but I cannot recall so many sweet/candy eaters back in the states, as I have encountered living here.

Yesterday while out with my 18 month old, she was offered a jelly sweet, by a (well-meaning, I'm sure) shopkeeper, after putting away some toys she had been playing with. I am sure I did not imagine that the golden rule is to *ask* the parents first, before offering anything to the child, especially a pre-verbal one!!! But no, this was offered directly to my daughter.. and we are vegetarian (jelly's are made with gelatin). This is not the first time though. She was offered candy at one year old. We never gave our son anything resembling candy until he was at least 3, and then it was 'healthy' sweet stuff, and this was in America. None of his playmates at the time ate sweets either, or fizzy/carbonated drinks.

Its not shocking at all to see wee ones here holding a fizzy drink, crisps, sweets, or the ever popular 'juice' drinks. When it says juice drink, you can bet its never seen a fruit in its life. Then there's all the artifical sweeteners that just about everyone has seemed to embrace as sooooo much better than sugar. I'm happy to take the sugar, in moderate amounts, rather than some chemical created in lab which leaves an awful aftertaste in my mouth. But back to the kids...

Candy (or sweets as they are known here), is everywhere. My son never favoured sweets until he started school. Just about every Friday he'd come out with a handful, or on other days if it was someone's birthday, and 9 out of 10 times they were not vegetarian. In his Tae Kwon Do class, they are rewarded with sweets. In the shops, after school parents, on the bus, everywhere its SWEETS! Can't people see the rotten teeth and the ever enlarging waistlines of our kids??? And its fizzy drinks as well. Carbonated drinks erode the teeth every bit as much as sweets. I'm complaining because its very hard to escape. I remember one mother commenting to me about boundaries, in relation to something else, but it applies here as well.. she said its very hard enforcing your own boundaries when someone else has not set any for their kids. And it seems to cross social/economic lines as well.

When I pick up my son from school my young daughter is surrounded by other pre-schoolers filling their gobs with sweets. I provide healthy alternatives which appease her now, but it won't be long before she's asking for what they have, won't be long before I look like the villain for saying NO. I have been trying to be polite about it, by taking the sweet and disposing of it later, but when I have declined in the past, I've been told things like, 'oh its just a treat'.. a treat, implying a special occasion, once in a great while, etc.. which I don't see, what I see is everyday, after school, in the check-out line, just to keep them *quiet*.. which only works while their mouths are full, and until the sugar rush comes into play.. So no more Mrs. Niceguy, from now on, its PLUHEEEZE don't offer my kids sweets...

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