Sugar And Grandchildren: Not A Recipe For Success


For my own protection, I’ve got to start dialing back the amount of sugar the grandchildren consume when they’re here. Up until now, I have probably been supporting Big Sugar singlehandedly. I’ve seen the cane fields of Belle Glade, and I like them. Plus, I tend to believe that natural sugar has to be better than anything engineered by people.

So, I’ve been letting the kids eat whatever they want, based loosely on something I read in the 1952 edition of a baby and child care book that suggested that, over the course of a year, small children will eventually choose to eat a good mix of protein, vegetables and milk products. That may be true, but first you have to present them with a good mix of protein, vegetables and milk products. That isn’t my forte. My forte is spoiling them.

Plus, the kids aren’t so small anymore. They are now at the age where they are exceptionally vulnerable to the lure of TV commercials and comic-style packaging.

As am I.

The other day, knowing they were coming over, I went to the grocery store and tried to find a cereal we both would like. I ended up buying a happy little mixture of colored balls that I remember from my childhood. The pastel colors would make up for the lack of a sugar coating, I thought.

Yet when I opened the package, my childhood cereal had changed! The pastel colors were now neon, and their surfaces were glistening. I knew in my heart that they would glow under blacklight. They weren’t as much a cereal as they were cookie decorations.

I tasted them, and they were awful. To their credit, even the kids wouldn’t eat them. So they had pancakes with syrup instead. And, later, a few cookies. And then some Jell-O. And that’s when they snapped.

They could no longer decide what to wear. Tess cried uncontrollably when she realized her princess dress was in the wash, and Skippy ran outside half naked. I presented option after option, but nothing was good enough.

Using the bribe-and-threat method of child-rearing that had worked so well with my own children, I eventually got them “sort of” dressed (they looked like circus clowns) and into the car (seatbelts were another battle) with the intent of taking them to a park where they could run off some of the sugar.

But each one had a very firm — and differing — opinion of which park they wanted to go to. This turned a simple car ride into an epic struggle of negotiation. Think the United Nations has trouble? It’s nothing. In fact, any parent worth their salt could easily sort it out. But which park has the best playground equipment? That’s big. Eventually, we reached détente.

An hour and a half later, bruised but not broken, we returned home. I can’t say we were happy, but we made it. The kids collapsed in front of the TV. (God bless you, Disney Channel!) And I immediately went to the pantry to begin throwing things out.

Remember Hansel and Gretel? And the wicked witch who lived inside a house made of candy? You know how she locked those kids in a cage once they were in there? There was a reason for that.