October 10, 2011

Coke, with a side of Vinegar.

As the numbers of children with childhood obesity has risen over the last decade or so, so has the controversy regarding nutrition in our children’s schools. Calls for a more balanced meal plan and the withdrawal of vending machines/soda have been heard in PTO and school board meetings around the nation. So imagine my surprise when Caleb came home from school with a can of Coke nestled into the bottom of his backpack today. Chilled, ready to drink and everything. It was a reward he said, given to him by his teacher for mastering a skill that he has been working on for the last few weeks.

  And there he stood, smiling so HUGE at both his accomplishment and his reward. And the loving Mommy in me wanted so badly to just share in this moment of excitement with him. But the protective/nutritional Mommy in me wants to call his teacher and ask why a can of soda was given to a 5 year old. What happened to good ‘ole stickers and trips to the prize box?  So now here I am stuck in limbo over deciding whether or not to call his teacher and complain. On the one hand I genuinely like the guy. He’s a great teacher, who Caleb adores and he’s also a bit quiet and shy. I almost feel like a bully for wanting to call and voice my displeasure at this “reward”. Also, I get that being a teacher in today’s society is tough. I have lots of teacher friends who feel at times that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Education is increasingly becoming a fine line to walk as teacher’s lose their jobs for posting a picture on Facebook of the glass of wine that accompanied their dinner, and let’s not even begin to get into the controversies they face regarding discipline. So yes I get it, being a teacher is tough.

 But to me it seems fairly obvious that a kindergartener shouldn’t be given soda. Especially not a whole can of soda. A bit of my shock comes from the fact that my 10 year old who attends the same school has never been given soda as a reward (at least not that she’s told me). And in an increasingly liable society full of consent forms I kinda would’ve expected this to be covered on the 50 or so other pages of consent and authorization forms that we fill out at the beginning of each school year. Seems to me like this could’ve been squeezed in somewhere between food allergies and the approved lunch visitor list. Something like " May your child be given a caffeinated soda as a reward? Check yes or no. The school will not be held liable for resulting behavoir. Please be aware that consumption of the soda may increase trips to time out, the number of sticks pulled, the inability to nap during nap time and more frequent trips to the dentist may be necessary." Feel free to add that next year principals around the world. Your welcome.
 The other bit of shock I have comes from the fact that we only began letting Kayley have one orange soda or Sprite a week within the last year or so. So when I woke up this morning I really wasn’t expecting a Coke Controversy to be on today’s agenda of things to handle. Them’s the breaks in Mommyland, you just never know what’s waiting around the corner. In the end I’ll approach this the same way we do everything else that the kids consume which is all things in moderation and I’ll give him about half of the soda with dinner tonight. And in the meantime I’ll try to figure out whether or not I should call the teacher. And perhaps I’ll just add some vinegar to his cup so that it tastes so bad that next time he’s offered one he’ll politely refuse. Yeah, vinegar ought to do the trick.

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