“Children today are increasingly dependent on junk food, fast food, and microwave meals, and they are disconnected from growing, preparing, and appreciating food. The family meal, once an important social ritual, is now endangered.”
-Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy
Getting our two kids on board for a year of no sugar hasn’t been exactly easy. Several months ago we were all driving somewhere when Steve and I first proposed the idea to the girls. They both promptly burst into tears.
“Well, that went well,” Steve said to me over the hysterics coming from the backseat.
Which is why I’m so delighted that our older daughter Greta has become somewhat more favorably inclined toward the No Sugar Project since we began on January first. Part of this has to do with her mercurial personality (“I love it!! I hate it!! What are we talking about!?!”), and part of it has to do with my attempt to give her more of an personal investment in the whole idea. She’s interested in writing, since it’s something her mom seems to do an awful lot, so when I proposed she keep a journal of her thoughts about our No-Sugar year her face lit up; I began to see a glimmer of hope for a perhaps-not-too-totally-awful year after all.
Since then she’s made three journal entries, which impresses me endlessly- totally unbiased parent that I am- and she’s given me permission to share some of the highlights with you.
“Today we ofishily started the ‘NO! Eat sugar Project.’” she writes in her first entry. “I’m so worryed about this. I know my firends already think I’m kind of weird… you need to know my family eats really healthy and so my friends think thats some what crazy. I mean. We don’t eat dorieados nor at fast food Places. Like for instance. I’ve never been to mcDonals & I’ve also never been to sub way”
The second entry is slightly less subtle: “I hate this project! I hate it! It’s know fair. Mom is taking all the sweets in the house and giving them away… And she’s giving away the caramel popcorn that Grandpa just gave us a week or two ago. I DON’T THINK IT’S FAIR!!”
My family is kind of weird: check. My parents are totally unfair: check. So far I think we’re doing fine in our preparation for the teenage years.
Then one night, as I was making dinner she asked me “Mom? What’s that word when you can’t figure out how you feel about something? Like when you feel more than one way about it?”
Later on I realized she was writing another journal entry which began like this: “I feel more and more ambivalent about this project every day… I mean me and my family can only eat 4 kinds of cereal now.”
Be honest with me: does that scream “future therapy candidate” to you? Probably not… but that doesn’t mean I don’t obsess about possible future ramifications of our No Sugar Year for our children: who are the participants in this endeavor without a veto vote. Yesterday someone told me the project would be something “she’ll laugh about” when she’s twenty-five… which is a nice way to think about it: at worst, fodder for future stories about what her crazy-ass mom decided to do when she was ten. That I’m okay with. As my Mom used to say, “Tell your friends it’s my fault. I don’t mind. Blame it on me.” What a mom thing to say, to feel. I recall being endlessly impressed by her willingness to be uncool, to be the fall-guy for me. It isn’t until you get to be a mom that you realize there are so many things way worse than being weird, or uncool.
I must admit, however, that the end of Greta’s last journal entry is my favorite part, giving me a few hopeful glimmers to hold onto for now as we continue on our year-long journey: “We had pancakes this morning and boy were they good!! Even if we can’t put on maple surup.”