Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Why Kids Deserve Sugar

My son's elementary school recently made the decision to replace the one of the most popular events in their fund raiser Fair because of 'unhealty practices'.

The Cake Walk is like musical chairs except all the chairs are numbered. When the music stops the teacher randomly selects a number. The person sitting on the chair with that number wins a cake!

Awesome, right?

Except this year, the school board feels the cakes are inappropriate and have replaced the Cake Walk with the Prize Walk.

Huh? The cake is the prize, dude.

Instead of towers of beautiful and delicious cakes with mounds of icing, there will be piles of 'stuff' from the Dollar Store. Not only is this horrible from an environmental point of view, but what about the CAKES!!!

Allow me to digress.

Back in my elementary school days we had a Spring Fair as well, but you had to EARN stuff. There was no Sucker Pull or Fish Pond where all you had to do was show up to win a treat. The games were tough. If you walked away with anything you were a king, and the swag lasted weeks, my friend.

I would save up quarters and dimes, waiting for the day. You see, my mom was a bit of a health food freak, and store bought cookies and certainly cakes were never seen on the table. Dessert at my house was yogurt or an apple.

I don't know how I ever survived such neglect.

Anyway, when I was ten, I had a strategy in mind. All of my Spring Fair tickets would go to the Cake Walk. The odds were with me, or at least that's the way my grade five brain did the math back then.

The morning of the Spring Fair, I marched up to the Cake Walk full of conviction, the pockets of my pink corduroy pants were loaded with tickets. The overweight gym teacher, Mrs. H., was in her standard navy blue Adidas track suit, looking like Grimace from McDonalds. Each time I lost, I got right back in line. Mrs. H. didn't even bat an eyelash.


After half an hour of circling the chairs, listening to Sharon, Lois, and Bram, with no cake to speak of, I began to lose faith in my plan. I gave a sideways glance to the Bean Bag Toss, but then, at the last second, I gave in and handed my last two tickets to Mrs. H.

I was determined to bring home a REAL dessert for the table that night, darnit!

I sized up the kids around me. Everyone was already carrying little bags of loot they'd won that day. No worries though, the cake that was next in line was something out of Willy Wonka's factory. It had three layers of chocolate, and was topped with those pink icing roses.

I took a deep breath and silently prayed to the sugar gods. But then Mrs. H. did something no one was expecting. She didn't reach for the next cake in line, she chose something else—something hidden and apparently forgotten under the table.

The other kids' faces showed the horrific reality that settled in my heart. Mrs. H. plopped a bag of oranges on the stool in the middle of the circle.

Dear God, we were competing for FRUIT!

The music started. It was too late to turn in my tickets. I had no choice but to shuffle my Keds along, doing my best silent protest against such an atrocity. I was so mad I didn't hear the music stop. Mrs. H. cleared her throat into the microphone. I sat down and crossed my arms giving the floor my best 'lemon face'.

Mrs. H. groped in the bowl for a number ball. "Who's lucky number seven?" she yelled out.

All the kids except me checked the back of their chairs. One by one relief set in in their features.

"Number seven?" Mrs. H. repeated.

Can you guess who was lucky number seven?

Yup. Me.

I dragged that bag of oranges around for the rest of the afternoon, ignoring the teasing snickers from class mates.

FYI, no one wants to trade oranges for ANYTHING, even a scratch and sniff sticker that's lost its smell.

The oranges banged against my knees as I walked home, the disappointment weighed over me like a wet blanket. It was a sharp contrast to the image I'd procured for weeks. It was my hope and dream to arrive home, holding a beautiful cake aloft—hero at the dinner table.

This will not be the fate of any of the kids in my son's elementary school, and for that I'm a little sad. I'm not saying kids should eat cake and candy whenever they want, but there is a reason cake is served at special occasions...because it is special.

And no amount of plastic junk from the dollar store is going to replace that feeling.



Jane Lebak said...

So instead of a sugary dessert, they're going to give away mountains of cheap plastic crap that will probably break within a week and then spend the rest of eternity in a landfill.

That's vision for you.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm all for eating healthy, but part of teaching kids moderation teaching them when it's ok to eat it. My removing it completely from their diet we teach children that desserts and sugary food are supposed to be hidden and consumed on the sly. Also they tend to go on binges because they get it so infrequently. Give kids sugar, just teach them to eat it wisely.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. Can you turn this into a middle grade novel so I can read it?

Seriously, I'm with you on the sweets. When people ask me if I allow my hyper son to eat candy, I smile and reply, "Yes. Every day."

Laila N Mysis said...

There was once a competition where you could just walk around in circles for CAKE?

Sweet Lord.

& then they took it OFF??


I'm with you for special occasions. Okay, I'm not a mama, but a cake a year isn't going to kill anyone, is it? And if they're so concerned, surely they could just make each kid run off the calories. Or counter-balance it by feeding them even more fruit.


Delia said...

This post was surprisingly depressing on many levels.

Down with cake fascists!

Stephanie said...

Such a sad sad story :(

I totally agree I'm not about denying myself or my kids anything in life that beings you joy an happiness. And cake brings us joy and happiness, along with candy and other sweet treats. Do we eat bowlfuls every day, no!

And I completely agree with the above poster....denying kids only makes them want to hide it and binge when they actually do get the chance.

Great post!!!

J said...

Personally I think it's awesome the school doesn't want to promote eating refined sugars, gluten, and unhealthy fats. But there are plenty enough ways to prepare yummy baked treats with healthy ingredients that the cake walk can be fun and guilt free. What on earth does dollar store plastic garbage teach kids about a healthy lifestyle?

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