Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Many Birthday Celebrations Does One Person Get - in 1 Year??

Can you believe it - I am allergic
to Ivory soap! 
No calories were consumed in the
writing of this post.

Warning ~ 
I'm up on the soapbox again. 

When I was growing up you had one (count 'um) ONE birthday celebration a year. Maybe you had a party. Maybe you got a special dinner with all our favorite foods made by mom. Maybe you went out to a fancy place for dinner. Or maybe you got to go out with a few friends and celebrate with pizza and cake and bowling. You did not get to do everything for one birthday. There was no "this is my birthday week ."

What follows in the next paragraph is the word by word description of a birthday week (Okay, sarcastic and cynical comments were added by me) of an eleven year old girl.

I had a party with pizza, cake and a sleepover on Friday at my house with my three best friends. A party with my school friends at the mall with lunch and cake (Cake #2). On Saturday.  A movie with my girl scout friends Saturday night (did I mention the cake?) Family over for dinner and a cake (4th freaking cake) my mom makes on Sunday, cupcakes (counts as cake) in school  on Monday and cupcakes (still cake) at bible school on Wednesday. Then my parents took me out to Disney on my real birthday on Thursday and I made my own Mickey Mouse sundae and got a cupcake at the Chef Mickey buffet and at the Hoop Dee Do at dinner (that is eight birthday cake moments in one week). 

Hey, I believe if you have the money, you can spend it on your kids anyway you want and it is no one's business to tell you otherwise although we all talk about you and your money with resentment and envy when you leave the room. TV Programs that showcase $25,000 Sweet Sixteen parties are not short of parties to film. I say spend whatever you want. If you are willing to spend that kind of money on a sweet sixteen party and don't need it to pay your taxes or health care - go for it. I am not judging the money others spend. I am leading to a food issue. 

I think I was this cat in another life
We are currently raising the first generation of children with shorter life expectancies than their parents. This has everything to do with overeating.  The massive abundance of sugar, fat, salt and processed foods we have readily available to us all the time is one culprit but we parents are not helping the situation with expanding on times for celebratory 'it's okay to eat it because it's my party' food. We only add to the problem.

A cute and already copious child (with a chunky dad, a chubby mom and a chubette set of siblings) should not be encouraged to feast at celebration after celebration filled with cakes, candy and ice cream for seven days. There are children who eat the rose off a cake and touch nothing else sweet. Some kids will eat only the icing, some will eat only the cake and some only the ice cream on the side. Then there are the kids who will eat the icing, cake, ice cream and go back for seconds (or eat what is leftover after the party if mom and dad don't eat it first). If you know this about your child the best gift you can give them is not put them in that situation over and over again. 

I don't suggest restricting children by putting them on a diets. I am not a doctor or a licensed nutritionist. Children have special needs for their properly growing bodies to be healthy. I don't suggest you take away their birthday cake - just the seven cakes that follow it that week. Please do not hand them a loaded food gun day after day under the guise of it's okay because it's their birthday week. While celebrating their birth, wouldn't it be better not to be hastening their demise?



Mom on a mission said...

So true..

Vickie said...

I hope you will smile at this.

Youngest's birthday was last week, it fell on the weekend.

The Thursday before her birthday weekend her homeroom teacher asked if she was bring in a treat (Friday). When she got in the car after school she mentioned it and said that she hadn't thought a thing about it (bringing in treat). I said - I wouldn't have thought of it either, good thing he said something. We stopped by store and bought her favorite cookies (ranger cookies by a bakery) and she took them in that Friday.

On the day of her birthday, what she wanted to do was go ice skating and go to mall (with a friend). She did both those things and the friend came back to spend the night. They had a great time.

it wasn't until two days later that I wondered if the friend thought it was weird we did not have a cake.

I can't remember the last time anyone here had a cake for their birthday. it has been years and years.

There are no restrictions about cakes. If someone wanted a cake, I would get it (would just get one where it was one serving each and then done). But we just don't think that way any more. We think activities.

Vickie said...

here is the flip side.

we attended a baptism open house last summer. There was a very good cake. We all had a piece. Everyone at my house scraped off the frosting and just ate the cake. We all had tiny pieces and only ate one piece each. No one told anyone to do this - it is just automatic.

there was a mom sitting down the table (from us) with her little girl. They ate piece after piece of cake - but ate the frosting only. This was the kind of cake where the frosting was an inch thick.

The girl was (trying to sit) sitting on the mom's lap, only there was no actual lap. The girl was as round as round could be. The site of both of them trying to sit on a chair, shoveling fork fulls of frosting in their mouth and ummmmming was almost too much for me.

it was the frosting pavlov's dogs. the conditioning to frosting = love was actually visual. I will never forget those two.

Jane Cartelli said...

Vickie - Not only did I smile, I was excited that you jumped in quickly with a real life experience. It shows it is possible to not be so firmly rooted in food for a celebration that food becomes the celebration.

Do you think the chocolate companies are praying we go quiet for Valentines Day?


Jane Cartelli said...

Vicki - PS: Do you think the teacher who asked is the one who was seeking the treats?

Sean Anderson said...

I'm with you. Something changed along the way. When we were kids it was simple--today is your day type deal...I don't understand the "birthday week" mentality either. In my opinion it diminishes the actual birthday. My best, Jane--thank you!

Kelliann said...

I cannot explain how much I LOVE this post... childhood obesity is RAMPENT, and these situations are becoming the NORM. As a person with eating issues, weight issues, (all my life) the LAST thing I want for my kids is to have to deal with the same issues. No, they are NOT on "diets", but I DO watch what they eat and I put my foot down after that one peice of cake. There is NO reason for ANYONE to be eating more than that.
*whew* ok. I'm good. LOL.
Speaking of Valentines Day - I read somewhere that Americans will purchase 58,000,000 lbs of candy for V-Day. All I can say is O.M.G.

E. Jane said...

Things have changed, and not for the better. I think children are much more indulged today, in many ways, so they don't develop the discipline to say "no" to themselves.

In the past 20 years, a whole new culture has developed in terms of child rearing. I'm not sure it's helping kids grow into responsible adults. In fact, according to some articles on the topic, the age of adolescence now extends well into the 20's. I think that going too far to make a child feel "special" can have negative effects. Indulging them with food, is part of that equation.