Chocolate background

I remember when I was a kid, “special occasions” that called for sugar were mostly limited to holidays, birthdays and momentous family events. Now as a parent, it seems to me that the call for sugar has morphed into an almost daily deluge.

For the record, I’m all for treating my kids and myself to a delicious bar of dark chocolate or a scoop of homemade ice cream; my issue is the sheer barrage of the white stuff. Consider these pleas from our children:

  • But, Mom, it’s the third grade winter performance.
  • It’s the third grade spring performance.
  • It’s Aunt Michelle’s anniversary dinner.
  • It’s the town parade, and who can miss Freddie and his “famous” funnel cake.
  • It’s the first day of school ice cream sundae day.
  • It’s the last day of school ice cream sundae day.
  • It’s the 100th day of school. There’ll be cookies shaped like ones and zeroes.
  • Why not?
  • It’s the annual pre-Thanksgiving pancake day at school.
  • That makes sense. (And by the way pancakes and muffins are just euphemisms for cake).
  • It’s a birthday party, Mom.
  • It’s your birthday, Dad.
  • It’s my birthday, Dad.
  • It’s a six-hour flight, and it’s not like there’s a Whole Foods on the plane, Mom.
  • It’s Lucy’s bat mitzvah party, and there’s a room ringed in glow-in-the-dark candies
  • (and for some readers, you might be traveling the bar mitzvah circuit for all of seventh grade).
  • It’s an open house and there are doughnuts.
  • It’s our weekly adviser meeting at school.
  • It’s our first soccer game.
  • It’s our fifth soccer game.
  • It’s our last soccer game, and Mrs. Watson always brings her “famous” red velvet cupcakes
  • (What happened to orange slices?).
  • It’s our first win.
  • It’s our first loss, but we played super hard.
  • Mom, it’s a hot summer day. Just this once.

Oh, and we can’t forget the holidays and their obligatory treats: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day (almost as much candy as Halloween now at some schools).

Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter and its scavenger hunts to track down jelly beans jammed in plastic eggs. And, of course, apple pies to accompany our patriotic days of the Fourth of July and Flag Day. Yes, Flag Day.

Children (and of course, many adults) argue that these special days are sugar-worthy and demand our complicity in providing them sweets. And provide we do — whether we do so out of habit, tradition, guilt, pressure or even love.

I’ve always found it fascinating that injecting globs of sugar into our children’s bodies so often is associated with caring and adoration. All of the aforementioned events and “special” occasions add up.

All the “just this onces” add up to pretty much “just this week” (it’s vacation), and to “just this month” (it’s the holidays), and to just this year (our new reality as it’s who we are becoming as a nation that still gets a significant portion of its calories from sugar, flour and oils).

So next time your kid or another parent at school uses the line “just this once” coated in sugary sweetness, please remind them they’ll probably utter that catchphrase at least another 150 times during the next year.

And why not arm your kids with this possible catch phrase instead: “Not this time.”

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Alexander Trivas previously lived in Los Angeles, where he taught English and Global Studies for 15 years in independent schools. He now lives in Richmond. Contact him at: Alextrivas2@gmail.com

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