I have a pet peeve. Who am I kidding? I have many of them, actually, but today I’m focusing on just the one. It pertains to my children. Here’s the scoop: I’m really fed up with people offering food to my children (pun totally intended). It happens all of the time. At church, for example. My children attend Sunday School while my husband and I are in the congregation at church. The service—and subsequently, Sunday School lessons—last an hour. One hour. The 10:30 a.m hour, at that. On any given Sunday, my family will typically enjoy a fairly hearty weekend treat of a breakfast. Waffles or pancakes or biscuits and eggs. By the time we drop the kids off in their respective Sunday School classrooms, scarcely an hour has passed since my family sat down for breakfast. Yet, when we pick them up from Sunday School, we hear reports of snacks that were given out. And I’m not talking about something healthy like a handful of grapes or a segment of orange. I’m talking about powdered donuts or cookies or packaged cereal bars—food imposters laden with sugar and preservatives.
It gets to me, obviously.
Fair warning: I’m about to reminisce about the good old days.
When I was growing up, the occasions in which my peers and I were given snacks at school or church were seldom. We did celebrate the occasional birthday in class with cupcakes. And cookies and punch were regularly served after church, though they were merely made available as opposed to being actively passed around during lessons. Nowadays, though, sugary snacks are rampant. Just this past weekend I walked into Target with my son only to be stopped at the entrance by a demo lady handing out cookie samples. And when I politely refused, she looked at me as if I grew octopus arms. So caught off guard, she was, that I wouldn’t eagerly inhale her free cookies, much less let my son take some. Free samples, it seems, are hard for most people to pass up. If you don’t believe me, one quick weekend trip to Costco will prove me right. Don’t even get me started on the people who abandon their carts in the middle of an aisle in an effort to beat the next guy to the last of the frozen burrito samples.
Here’s the thing: I strive to run a healthy household. It is difficult enough to instill healthy habits in children without being undermined at every corner by, admittedly, well-meaning folks who’ve succumbed to our indulgent culture. I know full well that the people who give my kids these treats aren’t intentionally being harmful. But the truth is that my kids simply don’t need to consume snacks as often as they’re offered. The Sunday School example is perfect; is it really necessary to fill the hour by giving out sweets? No. Definitely not.
In a culture already plagued by ginormous portion sizes, nutritionally deplete convenience foods and fast food establishments on every corner, we do our children an injustice by constantly filling their little hands with food. Instead of satisfying their sugary cravings, we should pique their curiosity. Instead of filling their bitty bellies, we should inspire their imaginations and push the limits of their creativity. I can’t help but think we’d all be a lot better off if we did just that.