We have always been a low-sweets household, but we’ve not wanted to be the parents who say their kids can never have sweets. We all know how those kids turn out. I have tried to ferret out the hidden sugar in breads and processed foods so that we can surreptitiously cut back on the kids’ intake of partially hydrogenated corn syrup and sugar without them recognizing our tight fist of authority.
Recently, we came to the conclusion that Benjamin has a bit of an issue with refined sugar. Namely, he cannot seem to control himself. I don’t mean he cannot control himself around sweets. I mean he is totally insane. I often suspect he misbehaves not because he wants to but because he simply cannot help himself. We decided to limit his sugar intake even further to see if that would allow him to remain in control.
But, not wanting to be those parents, we figured there should be exceptions for birthday cakes and occasional nights out for ice cream. Both of which he had last week. And after both of which we found him pissing all over the bathroom floor, cackling with glee.
OK, maybe no sugar at all for awhile. Cutting sugar from my diet has made a huge difference in my mood swings, so we think he may have similar trouble processing it. I informed his teachers, since he gets most of his sugar at school.
Let’s pause for a minute and review that statement. Does anyone see anything wrong with that? His school is giving him sweets.
Whenever I have brought it up, albeit tentatively, the response has been, “You have to give kids treats now and again.” To which, sure. But shouldn’t the right to hand out sweets be reserved for the person who is also doling out the broccoli? Why does the school get to give out all the treats and Mommy has to be in charge of vegetables? That hardly seems fair. I think teachers should hand out sugared stuff in a one-to-ten proportion to nutritious food. If all the snacks are asparagus and fava beans, sure, go for it, pour the kid some grape juice now and again. If, however, snacks are regularly Goldfish and graham crackers? Well, you’ve kind of already used up your allotted portion of empty calories and partially hydrogenated anything. You don’t get to hand out sugared sweets.
Between the birthday celebrations (and why are parents encouraged to bring in cupcakes for that?), classroom parties for Grand Day and the umpteen Jewish holidays the children must celebrate, and the regular use of Cheerios as snacks, there is a hell of a lot more sugar flowing out of that preschool than there ought to be.
Hence my comment to the teachers last week. “We’re trying to severely limit his sugar intake,” I told them as Benjamin attempted to climb the built-in cubbies. “For obvious reasons.” I reminded them on Friday, when I was in the class for Shabbat, another “special occasion” that falls every week and seems to call for cup after cup of grape juice.
So, imagine my surprise when I walked into the classroom yesterday and saw packs of Oreo cookies on the table. (And why is a Jewish preschool using Oreos instead of Hydrox?) “Are you feeding those to him?” I asked.
“We’re making edible dirt today!” the teachers gushed. “Crumbled up Oreos in chocolate pudding with gummy worms.” Oh. Because that’s so much better.
“I told you we’re trying to keep him away from sugar.”
“Well, we won’t let him have much.” OK, that is so not the point. The point is that we are trying to see if completely cutting out sugar helps him to control himself. We are doing an experiment here.
And so, when I picked him up at school and was handed a cup of “edible dirt,” it took all my self-control to keep from flinging it at the teachers. Now, I can either be unfair to my kid by telling him he cannot eat it or by putting him in a position where he cannot control his behavior and then gets punished for it.
For the record, I chose Option A. I’m OK with being Mean Mommy.
Halloween is coming, and we’re going to have to get creative. We’re also skipping as many birthday parties as possible. But, ultimately, it won’t matter, since clearly the teachers plan to keep slipping him the stuff on the side.