Time to dial down sugar for the fu­ture of our kids

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.