January 29, 2008

It's Late, I'm Ranting one of my Favorite Rants. Interested?

It's not often that I read something and immediately feel the need to get on my soapbox. This is one of those times. I guess to get the full experience you sould probably read the article first. For the impatient, I'll summarize. Basically, a school district in Florida has a program where elementary school students who earn good grades or who have good attendance can present their report card to a local McDonalds and receive a free happy meal. Sounds like a decent deal, right, rewarding achievement and good behavior? Apparently, as happens too often these days, one person complained and the program was ended, effective next fall (contracts, they are a bitch).

Of course the woman who complained wasn't alone. The Board of Education must not have given her the answer she wanted, because she complained to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (based in Boston by the way) who then began to put public pressure on McDonalds to end the program. Why did they want it ended?

In the words of their director, Susan Linn: "'It's a terribly troubling trend," Ms. Linn said, "because it really, clearly links doing well in school with getting a Happy Meal.'"

And in the words of Susan Pagan, the mother that complained: "'I thought this was appalling, "Ms. Pagan said, "because you get a reward for good grades by eating -- and eating fast food.'"

So ignoring the fact that Ms. Pagan seems to be against eating in general, the issue, it seems, is that students are being rewarded with a happy meal. Because, you know, one happy meal every 6-9 weeks is how kids get fat. And never mind that these are no longer the happy meals of my youth and offer healthy replacements for the fries and soda. Am I the only one that sees nothing wrong here? Me and my classmates used to get candy and ice cream cones at the local ice cream place for good grades/behavior. I don't remember but maybe one or two kids being overweight. Of course those were the days when we still had second recess and almost a full hour for P.E.

Parents, let me clue you in to something, and you may not like it but it's for your own good. Your 4th grader doesn't choose to be overweight. McDonald's and junk food advertisements don't make them fat either. Ya know who does? You do. Unless your child lives by him or herself, I would guess that you make the choices about what the child gets at home. You also, more importantly (at least i think it's most important), have some measure of control over what your child does in their spare time. Your choice to let them sit in front of a T.V. all afternoon doesn't help the weight issue either. But enough parenting advice. Honestly, I've only had experience on one side of the equation, and maybe I just don't get it.

But seriously, what's wrong with getting a treat every once in a while? I thought one tenet of healthy eating was to recognize that some foods should only be eaten sparingly. And why are we making life worse for kids by taking away their treats? Being a kid's supposed to be about having fun and learning a few things before they're turned into the automatons that pass for adults these days. It's bad enough that we're drugging 7-year olds because they have a hard time staying still for more than an hour or so. And it's bad enough that adults have taken or are taking away everything that might possibly harm a kid in any way, no matter how remote the chance and no matter how easy the damage is to reverse. People are turning childhood into a sterile, gray, decidedly not fun place.

And the worst part? Kid's don't know any better. The groups supposedly looking out for kids are the one's perpetuating the situation. It's the parents that should remember that childhood is supposed to be fun. And that's the irony. Parents are outsourcing parenting. They're relying on the government and the media to teach their children about life, trying to shape the media instead of shaping their child's behaviors themselves. And that's a shame.

Posted by chupathingy on January,29, 2008 at 1:12 AM | Comments (2)

Totally agree, I don't understand our society. Maybe I am just more aware of it now that I'm aging and spending more time reading the news. I remember Pizza Hut doing something similar for a reading contest where you would get free personal pan pizzas. Good thing we didn't have a whiny parent or I would have been deprived of a tasty pizza twice a year.

Comment by: Dave at 2:49 AM, January, 29, 2008

Hell yeah Book-It! See, everyone remembers it for how cool it was to get a treat every once in a while.

Comment by: Jon at 9:26 PM, February, 1, 2008