Time to dial down sugar for the future of our kids
What’s the Easter equivalent of the Grinch who stole Christ-mas? I think the answer could be me. I was in The Warehouse last weekend doing my best to limit the financial damage caused by four birthdays in a single weekend among my children’s friends.
One moment I was with my two daughters (9 and nearly 6) discussing the Secret Seven and Nancy Drew books we had selected.
The next minute I was alone and my offspring had become blurs moving at pace towards obscenely large chocolate Easter bunnies.
I was for a moment drawn into their wide-eyed world and recalled fondly my feelings towards Easter when I was a child.
Then I recalled that I lived in one of the fattest countries on Earth and thought of the unending battle against sugar my wife and I are waging on behalf of the children and how stupidly different society is today compared to when I was a child.
My kids are offered an almost unbelievable amount of sweets.
Kids bring sweets to school to hand out on their birthdays and on the last day of term and at Chinese New Year and Halloween and Diwali.
They often get offered sweets at other kids’ homes when they visit.
At birthday parties the pinatas deliver more sweets to each child in one hit than they should get in a month.
Kids bring sweets in their packed lunches.
I see some even arrive at school eating sweets in the morning.
As often happens in moments of stress and wonder, I found myself standing in the ‘‘Red Shed’’ mentally sketching out a column.
My mental sketching went like this.
Retailers are at war with moderation and restraint.
Advertising and TV glorify consumption, fashion and selfgratification.
Adults are encouraged to behave like children so they spend a fortune on computer games, grown-up toys or eating food largely fit for a child’s birthday party like burgers, pizza, chips and hotdogs.
And that enormous chocolate Easter bunny, bigger than my youngest daughter’s head, seemed to embody it all.
When I was a kid, Easter was simple. There was one egg per child. You didn’t give one to your children’s friends.
You didn’t give any to work colleagues or your boss. Your gran didn’t give you one. Neither did your uncle, aunt or cousin.
Your cleaner didn’t leave one for you. The neighbours didn’t pop round with one.
And, dare I say it? The grown-ups didn’t get Easter eggs.
They were, well, too grown up to want them.
Now I hope and pray that some of the Easter eggs that are going to be sold – Countdown alone has already sold more than five million this year – are going to be eaten by grownups, because the number of eggs vastly outnumbers the children.
It all feels so immoderate and moderation is the secret to a wellordered and successful money life, no matter how much you earn.
Almost everyone has means more limited than their desires and let’s face it, two chocolate eggs is not twice as good as one, though it costs twice as much.
We, the grown-ups, set the patterns that will empower or bedevil our kids throughout their lives. Easter, Christmas, birthdays, New Year just need to be dialled down a bit for everybody’s sake.