my son was invited to his classmates birthday party. he was really excited as he knew a lot of his friends were going to be there. we had another birthday party across town later that day so i had told the mother we would need to leave earlier than expected. on the way there, my son was telling me that the birthday boy's lunch at school doesn't really look like healthy food. my son said "he gets chips ahoy cookies everyday in his lunch box and trades them in for healthier snacks." my heart sank as this is a story i hear inside my clients food stories.
all of this to tell me that he wasn't so sure about the kind of food that would be offered at the party. we talk about food a lot as you can imagine. we talk about how we feel about food and with soccer game snacks, school and parties we chat about what foods feel good in our bodies and so forth. we talk about the source of food a lot as i want my kids (and all of us!) to know where food comes from.
when we arrived at the party, we didn't see many parents around because this was a 'drop the kid off' kind of party which was a first for me because my son just turned 8! i guess this is the time that it starts to happen. upon our arrival, the dad answered the door inviting us into a dark living room that lead into a kitchen which then lead us outside to some cushioned chairs, two balloons, a blue cooler filled with ice, fresca soda, minute maid soda and water. there was a grill with oscar meyer hot dogs, hot dog buns, frozen hamburger patties and a big block of cheddar cheese. there were red and blue themed plates and napkins too.
the kids were all running around after each other playing a game called infection. it was fun to see them laugh and enjoy. after a few minutes, they came to get something to drink out of the cooler. they all reached for a soda and started to laugh about drinking the soda. they were toasting each other harder and harder so that the fuzzy bubbles would fizz over the top and spill all over the table. they were like a pack of wolves, surrounding this round ottoman hitting the cans together like irish men in a pub (a few beers in). it was as if i were watching them drink their first beers in college trying to get into a fraternity. there were boys that were quietly drinking and their were boys trying to get attention, hoping to be heard, to be seen with taking another soda out of the cooler, showing off and making the other boys laugh. here is the thing, i was the only parent watching them. this was not a big home where they could be easily lost or not seen and heard. the hosts were drinking wine and close by to everything. finally, after many long moments, one of the hosts said to a boy to stop spilling on the furniture. a lot of those boys had 2 sodas as i was sitting there in a 10-15 minute period.
then lunch was served. they had a choice of hot dog or hamburger. the ketchup and mustard was on the fold out tables in the yard. i watched the kids douse their meat with pools of ketchup. this was another moment where the stand up comedy came in to effect for those kids making fun of how much they could pour on their meat.
no one was watching them except me & my confusion on what to do, my passion for this conversation with our kids, my love for our bodies, my grief for so many things. i watched myself like a hawk as i did not want to offend the hosts or say anything out of turn. i was acting super calm just sitting with my daughter, drinking water asking about the remodel of their home. the other part of me was screaming inside me to get up and say something. my brain said "sit down!" and my body got up, walked over to one of the boys and asked if he was ok if i called his mom just to make sure he is allowed to have the 2nd soda. i have no idea how the words even came out of my mouth. my brain was still sitting down with my daughter watching the rumpus slash lord of the flies happen.
i knew one of the moms as she has asked me about my work and is a fan of the little miracle i do in the class. i just felt she probably wouldn't be into what was happening with her son. i guess my biggest fear is that she would get him back totally drugged up and out which is so hard to deal with as a parent. i felt so many things at that moment as i am the freakin' kitchen healer!
at this point in the story, we have 2 sodas and probably a 1/2 of a cup of ketchup swimming around in a 50 pound boy, plus whatever is in the meat and the high fructose corn syrup & sugar in the bun. it's been less than an hour.
then my son comes up to me asking if we can stay for the piñata. i say yes as we will leave after that. all the boys run to get in line, with colorful bags in hand, to hit the alien ship with a baseball bat. after a few rounds, all the candy comes out, sweet tarts, gobstoppers, mints, lollipops and so forth. the boys are opening up wrappers as though they have never eaten before, one candy after the next after the next. we left after that, but i believe the next thing to do was to sing happy birthday and have a cupcake.
i can hear all the voices in my head as i write this post. i will share them with you:
what's the big deal? it's a 7 year old birthday party let them enjoy. it's a once in a while occasion. who are you to tell them what they can and cannot put in their body? it's not your responsibility to tell other kids what they can and cannot put in their bodies? if the parents say you can drop your kid off, what does supervision look like in our modern day lives? what do the parents expect? does anyone even care about this? i am sure we all care about our kids bodies and we want the best for them and those around us. i could go on and on.
i would love to hear from you. what do you think? what would you have done? bring it on beautiesxxxx
fyi: the total sugar in one can of minute maid lemonade is 27 grams of sugar with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. the fresca has little to no sugar (grams) with aspartame and other ingredients your grandmother would not know what to do with! the meats, well you know that one. the buns, the candy, the cake. i mean... maybe 100 grams of sugar or a lot more.. in a two hour period. the daily amount for a kid from 4 - 8 years old is 12 grams per day.