Birthday party mutiny: The case of the pink drink

by Christina on January 29, 2013

People often ask how I handle other kids’ birthday parties. That’s changed over the years. When Tess was a toddler, I’d surreptitiously scrape off the frosting, give her water over juice, and call it a day. As she got older, we’d talk before the party about making good choices, listening to her body, eating something only if it tasted really (really) good. These days, it’s evolved to where most parties she attends are for kids with like-minded parents, so it’s not much of an issue. And, at age 9, she makes pretty good choices herself. But while the strategy has varied, one element has not: I have never said anything to the hosts. Ever.

Until now.

Imagine this filled with melted bubble gum

Heading to a party a couple weeks ago, I knew from the invitation that there’d be pizza and cupcakes, and I’d assumed juice, as well. Not great, any of it, but I could deal. Especially because Tess is a chocolate girl to the core, so most other sweets only get nibbled, if that.

But there I was, talking to other parents, waiting for our kids to come up to the party room from the play gym, when I noticed one of the workers pouring a drink from a pitcher into paper cups. It was the brightest pink liquid I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It is not an exaggeration to call this stuff neon. If I hadn’t left my phone in the car, I would have snapped a picture, but just imagine a pitcher of melted bubble gum. That’s your visual.

I started plotting how to handle it. I knew Tess might want to taste it (for the novelty), but wouldn’t actually drink it. And usually I encourage that kind of taste-testing to reinforce how good the real stuff is. But I was so bothered by its brightness — and I didn’t want the other kids drinking it, either (most of whom had been dropped off and didn’t have parents there) — that I did something I’d never done at someone else’s party: I spoke up.

I walked over to the worker, quietly, on the side, and asked whether there were other drinks available. He told me there was water (in a tone that said, “but why would any kid want that?!”).  I said OK, let’s give the kids water. “Which kids?” he asked. “All of them,” I answered. “Just put cups of water next to the other drinks.” He gave me an odd look, but did it.

While he was doing that, I walked back to the party hosts (school friends) and said, as lightly as I could muster, that I’d taken the liberty of asking the worker to pour water, too. “Oh,” the mom said, “what did they put out? Juice?”  No, not juice, I told her. “Neon pink stuff.” And that’s when I saw an opening. Knowing the hosts hadn’t selected or brought the pink stuff made it easier to take things up a notch. “If it were my party,” I told them, “I’d nix the pink stuff altogether. But it’s not, so I figure the kids can at least be offered water, too.”

This got a laugh and a response about how their family doesn’t make  anything “taboo” and how they allow everything in “moderation.” But I’m used to that. Soon enough, I’d get around to explaining what I always do: that moderation is meaningless in a world of ingredients that shouldn’t be consumed at all (including — and especially — petroleum-derived food dyes); that just because products are sold in stores and approved by the FDA doesn’t mean they’re safe or that we have to eat them; and that parents already do (and should) make plenty of things “taboo” (smoking? drugs? alcohol?).

For now, though, the kids were coming upstairs, marching by to wash their hands after an hour of running and tumbling (and getting thirsty). One by one, they sat at the table. Then something beautiful happened.

One of the little girls (not mine!) looked at the pink drink and asked the worker: “What is this?”

The guy answered: “What is it? Well, pink lemonade, of course!”

Little girl: “What’s in it?”

Guy: “Pink lemonade, of course!”

Little girl, looking skeptically at the guy, then back at the drink: “Is this poison?”

I kid you not. Then there were little echos around the table: “Is this poison?” The staff looked absolutely flummoxed by this until another mom (not me!) stepped in and said: “I think, because of the school these kids go to (which encourages good food choices), you’ll have a lot of water-drinkers today.”

Then most of the kids pushed aside the bright pink drink and reached for the water. A couple sipped the pink stuff. A couple drank a lot of it. But the vast majority didn’t touch it at all. Now, before I say anything else: “Poison” is not a word I recommend using when talking about food. I think that’s hyperbolic fuel for people eager to peg us as crazy controlling health nuts. But the point is that this little girl knew something wasn’t right about that drink. And because I’d asked the staff to pour water, too, the kids knew they had an alternative and, for the most part, chose it.

What’s the takeaway? Am I telling everyone to turn into crusading party guests? No. I really don’t recommend that. But here’s the thing: Once you plant a seed, put a bug in someone’e ear, nudge a step outside a comfort zone, there is no going back. It might not change anything right away. It might not change anything ever. But as someone once said (and I wish I knew who!): You can’t unlearn something. And that’s where it all begins.

So speak up (when it’s appropriate). Look out for all kids, but especially your own. And give kids some credit. The only reason kids eat synthetic crap or drink neon drinks is because at some (probably early) point in their lives, an adult offered it to them. And kept offering it. We’re responsible for starting it. We can be responsible for ending it.

Ever spoken up in a situation you normally wouldn’t? Been surprised, pleased, gratified by the response? (Or maybe not so much?) Would you do it again?

Spoonfed is on Facebook. You’ll find links to blog posts, news and commentary on raising food-literate kids, questions and comments from readers, the works. Stop by, like the page, chime in, spread the word. (Thanks.) Also please consider subscribing by e-mail or RSS feed (which you can do at the top of the blog).

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SaraK January 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

We’re new at the school my kids are attending, and I’m purposely taking this year to try and observe how things are before rocking the boat on nutrition issues (which is totally against my nature). But, when other members of the PTO talked about handing out bags filled with candy after the Christmas program, I spoke up (and ended up causing quite the ruckus). I hope next year we can offer healthier things and pray I’ll find a way to “upset” tradition (and go back to what they originally had: oranges).

I will say my kids always pick water, especially at birthday parties when they do a ton of running around. And, you’re spot on: it does start (and end) with parents.

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2 Brooke Bernard January 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Haha. That little girl called a spade a spade! After all, it wasn’t “food” she was calling poison — it was man made chemicals. But, yes, yes, I too encourage my food dye free kids not to go around telling other children they’re killing themselves. That only tends to blur the message. And make people cry. :)
I do tell them that our family chooses to use food as fuel for our bodies, so we don’t ingest things that harm our bodies. When they ask why other kids get the neon pink drinks I explain that our choices are for our family and that not all mommies and daddies know yet that synthetic food coloring hurts.

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3 Kelly the Kitchen Kop February 1, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I actually *do* tell my kids that certain foods are poison. I know that maybe it’s inflammatory, but it’s true, so I don’t hold back!

Thanks for sharing your blog on my Facebook, I’m subscribing. :)

Kelly

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4 Brooke Bernard February 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Oh, absolutely, my kids call it by name. Poison. Petroleum. Coal Tar. They need to know why we make the choices we make in our family. We try to be tactful in public though! Just like Christina!

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5 Kristi January 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Big kudos to you for speaking up and to that smart little girl who called it like she saw it.

My first grader’s teacher is not big on junk food in the classroom, but does have 5 holiday parties each year, with popcorn (I’ve sent in organic, 3-ingredient TJ’s popcorn for all previous parties), doughnut holes, and juice boxes as the prescribed party items.

I decided to speak up about the Valentine’s Day party, offered to organize a “Naturally Red” party a la Get Real For Kids, and she loved the idea.

Now, to get my kid to embrace the grape tomatoes someone is sending in…. :)

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6 Venia | Organized Bites January 30, 2013 at 10:12 am

Kristi, Have you seen the heart shaped grape tomatoes? So cute! And, I bet the kids would love them. Here’s a tutorial on BentoUSA http://www.allthingsforsale.com/bento/easy-heart-shaped-tomato/

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7 Kristi January 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

So cute! Thanks for sharing this. I’ll give it a try.

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8 Venia | Organized Bites January 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

My pleasure!

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9 kpg January 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Woot woot! That is all.

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10 therobynnest January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

This is hilarious! It couldn’t have gone much better than that. It reminds me (a lawyer) of picking a jury, and the best way to educate a jury about whatever topic is not to lecture them. It’s to introduce a topic, ask what they think, and let them talk to each other. A juror’s opinion carries a lot more weight with the others than a lawyer’s does.

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11 One Day At A Time January 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Bravo! Handling birthday parties has been something we have struggled with ever since J has been old enough to realize what’s going on. Luckily (!) he is allergic to eggs so he completely skips the cake part (I bring something just for him). I’ve also been able to snag the candy out of his goody bags and mostly been able to keep him away from the drinks. It’s not been easy though and has taken effort. My friends know how we eat and that we are very aware of what J eats but it’s hard not to feel the odd man out. I definitely don’t want my son growing up feeling like that, but I’m also not willing to let him eat junk. His birthday is soon and we are planning on offering water, sandwiches and fruit tarts. I don’t think the kids will even care.

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12 Shereen January 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm

This is great example of how to tactfully deal with that sort of situation! I hate the idea of remaining silent sometimes, but also don’t want to hurt feelings. It’s great when there’s an opportunity to make a small change like that.

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13 Jenn F January 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Way to go! I like how you handled this situation and how the kids did as well. My son is just about to turn two and I am entering the stage of every weekend parties and many many invites. He is a foodie already!

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14 Trysh January 29, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Your blog is always very encouraging to read. It’s been an interesting journey for our family as we’ve switched to a healthier diet. I find I pack a lot more of our own food for outings. I look forward to the day when venturing out of home is a more nutritional experience for everyone :)

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15 Diane B. January 30, 2013 at 5:59 am

That’s encouraging that the kids knew better….You have that advantage of having been teaching Tess for many years now. I wish I could go back with my kids and do things differently. Now at 12 & 15 they CHOOSE the neon pink stuff because they know how I feel about it and say they don’t care.

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16 Venia | Organized Bites January 30, 2013 at 10:18 am

We’ve always taken along Scout’s Klean Kanteen of water to parties. It’s amazing the looks you get sometimes, like you’re punishing your child. But, for the most part we’re seeing water as an option more and more often. The change is happening…kudos for being a big part of that.

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17 Magda January 30, 2013 at 11:22 am

Way to handle it!!
At my 8 YO’s class, I was to provide a snack along with another parent. I said I would handle the snack and she could provide drink, napkins and plates. I made brownies (grain free with almond butter) and cut up strawberries. For drinks I said to pick something healthy and not too sweet. She answered with vitamin water. ???? That stuff is just sugar water – it has almost as much as soda – why would you think that would be healthy???
I finally said: just bring water! And she did. The kids devoured the snacks and not one complained about water to drink (I made a point to ask my son about that – noone even blinked). It was a small victory….

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18 Jeanette January 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Great handling of the situation! We need to give our kids a lot more credit for being able to wisely act in these situations. I am pretty strict with my autistic son in regards to artificial dyes and flavors, so I was blown away when I went to a party recently FOR an autistic kids that featured hawaiian punch, skittles and lots of other bright candy, and neon-frosted bakery cake. I thought, surely she must not know the effects of those petroleum-based dyes on children, particularly those with behaviorial issues, and casually mentioned that my son has improved greatly since being off the dyes. She grinned at me and gave me the “moderation” speech as well. I really wish she could experience her child without the dyes and artificial crap.
With my older daughter, I allow her to make decisions for herself in this regard, but we constantly talk about choices and where they lead. She knows that having a soda or bright candy makes her feel awful later; so she usually will choose something else. Sometimes she does choose the junk, but she regrets it immediately.
Water is awesome! At our birthday parties, we serve up water in individual bottles that the kids can write their names on. There is something special about having your own water bottle, I guess. :)

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19 stef January 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

enjoyed the post. I brought the snack for the Play rehearsal last year…tech rehearsal is several hours. Graham Crackers and apple slices and water bottles (in lieu of juice). very few kids drank it. But I’d do it again. I’m assuming they weren’t thirsty enough to want it. I will offer water at the Valentine’s party (class party). Still debating whether to offer juice too (which most classes do). so kids have a choice.

I also brought miniwater bottles for soccer snacks this year…and very few get taken…but juices always get taken. But I’d do that again too.

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20 stef January 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm

to clarify, i brought only water to soccer.

no one else followed and only brought juice (all the juices get taken up)

but I had few takers of water.

we have to keep offering water.

If juice is offered, I don’t think kids drink it out of thirst. I think it is sweet so they take one.

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21 mary January 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm

This is such an interesting topic. As I have a child about to enter school next year, I am curious — what exactly is wrong with juice? Many are so watered down and don’t have any added anything. I’m talking about once in awhile at a bday party, not all the time (b/c of teeth decay etc.). Curious why juice is getting such a reaction here. Thanks!

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22 Christina January 30, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Mary: Juice once in awhile isn’t a big deal (especially if it’s 100% real juice). The problem is that juice has become the de facto official drink of childhood, served not only at every party, but also at sporting events and practices, in school, at restaurants, with meals at home, as a snack. You get the idea! And that is a problem because juice (even the natural stuff) is pure sugar. Most juices are made by boiling fruits down to a concentrate, then reconstituting. And that concentrate is a highly processed sugar. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and pressed apple cider are different because the juice is simply extracted from the fruit, so while you lose the fiber and some nutrients by not eating the whole fruit, at least the sugar hasn’t been highly concentrated. But even those should be occasional, not regular, drinks. Hope that helps?

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23 Lucky January 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Kudos to you! BTW – those other posters on that other FB page are just too much to even worry about. You have chutzpah in a good way & I say double thumbs up to you. You go girl! :)

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24 Christina January 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, Lucky. I have a pretty thick skin, but some of those comments were getting out of control. Fortunately most people have been able to disagree in a civil fashion. Still, it’s been kind of a crazy day!

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25 Robin jingjit January 31, 2013 at 6:08 am

There sure is nothing wrong with requesting water when it hasn’t been put out. I try to never lecture people either, but sometimes people react to a mere mention as if it were a lecture.

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26 Purple Asparagus January 31, 2013 at 10:17 am

I’m sorry to pile on regarding this subject. However, your post bothered me so viscerally that I feel compelled to add my two cents. After reflecting on it, I realize what troubles is what I perceive to be a tone of smugness.

I too have been in your shoes in circumstances just like this. It’s awkward and you were trying to do your best so I apologize up front for micro-analyzing the incident. But, then you served it up for such analysis.

I believe that it was the right thing to ask the venue to provide the children with water as an alternative to the originally offered beverage. I also think it was appropriate to let the parent know that you’d made this option available. This ends our agreement.

Again, I know it was heat of the moment and we all say things that we may not if we had time to reflect. This was a social event, not a school function, and you and your daughter were guests. From my perspective, a good part of life is negotiating your values with those of others and the bridge between them is good manners. If you’d been asked why you offered water or what was wrong with the pink lemonade, I think it would be fine to offer your explanation. Instead, it seems that you chose to take this opportunity to educate, dare I use a slang term, school the parent in her bad choices, in public no less. These venues ordinarily are pretty explicit as to what’s offered to the children – so there is a good possibility that she was aware of what would be served. As parents, we all make choices that other parents don’t agree with. How would you like to be confronted about yours in a similar setting?

Also, if you had wanted to make a bigger impact than simply getting water to be offered to the children at the party, you could have left the room and asked to speak to the manger of the facility to share your well-reasoned opinion that all children at all events should be offered water as an alternative.

I also would offer a cautionary note. I know from experience, my own, that making anything completely taboo to a child will make at least some of them want it, maybe not now, but at some point in the future. I know that you suggest that this is not your approach, but your language betrays that sentiment: “parents already do (and should) make plenty of things “taboo” (smoking? drugs? alcohol?).” Even your point: “there’d be pizza and cupcakes, and I’d assumed juice, as well. Not great, any of it, but I could deal.” I don’t know about you, but I eat well 90% not only to look and feel good, but so that I can indulge the remaining 10% of the time, sometimes that includes pizza and juice (though of the adult variety). It is not and never will be my goal to eat healthy foods 100% of the time – Iife to me wouldn’t’ be worth living.

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27 Christina January 31, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thank you, Melissa, for your comment. I value your opinion and I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you, especially since you once made a point of saying how non-judgmental you found my blogging. :-( I also wish I’d thought to talk to the manager. That would have been a great idea.

I think, though, that we will need to agree to disagree on this particular situation. I realize that not everyone would have handled this the same way, but I stand by my decision, even though I’ve had several weeks to reflect on it.

I would like to address a couple of your specific points:

As I mentioned in the post, I made my follow-up comment only after I realized that the parents didn’t know what was being poured. It was very clear they thought it was juice (actual juice), which is probably what they’d been told! Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have said anything further. But the beginning and ending of the story would have been the same.

I’m a little confused by your last paragraph. I’ve made clear in many past posts that my problem with “moderation” is that it’s lost its meaning in our modern food climate, partly because every occasion now seems to be a “special occasion,” and also because there are certain common ingredients that really shouldn’t be consumed in any quantity. (I believe you’ve shared that view in the past regarding additives like food dyes and high-fructose corn syrup.) Perhaps this was different because rather than talking about it in a general sense, I was directing it at the party hosts (through my post if not in person)?

Oh, also, anyone who follows my blog and Facebook page knows that we eat pizza and packaged products and both snacky and sweet treats without issue, so long as the ingredients are decent. And sometimes even juice! So I’m not quite sure why you think otherwise?

As for the concept of making things “taboo,” my point there was that there’s nothing wrong with educating kids about the fact that not all foods are created equal — and yes, even encouraging them to avoid certain ingredients. So it’s not about making, say, cake taboo. But cake with 50 ingredients? Well, preferably, yes. I hope that clarifies things somewhat?

Again, thanks for taking the time to write. I wish we saw eye-to-eye on this (as we have on so many other things), but life doesn’t always work that way, unfortunately.

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28 Brooke Bernard February 1, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Why does “indulging” have to mean ingesting toxic, scientifically proven harmful chemicals? You can indulge in treats that have no nutritional value, but they don’t have to be poisonous. I will never allow my children to ingest petroleum — not from a bottle of motor oil in my garage and certainly not in their cupcakes or “juice.” Google Rainbow of Risks from the CSPI and you may reconsider your “indulgence.”

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29 Brooke Bernard February 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I should clarify that my child’s reaction to toxic, petro based chemicals in “food” result in immediate and terrifying neurological reactions. When you’ve seen that kind of damage — and know that other kids are being impacted in less visible ways every time they ingest it — it is simply impossible to make an exception! Pink lemonade? Sure. The kind that’s colored with elderberry and aronia juice concentrate!

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30 Purple Asparagus February 1, 2013 at 10:07 pm

When you make it home, have you tried “coloring” it with strawberries? Works like a charm.

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31 Christina February 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Brooke: Keep reading the exchange with Melissa (aka Purple Asparagus). You’ll see she’s right there with us!

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32 Brooke Bernard February 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I know! I got all fired up before I read the whole thing! :) My bad.

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33 Purple Asparagus February 1, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Sorry, my bad too. See what happens when we get all worked up!

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34 Purple Asparagus February 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Brooke, you and I are in full agreement. If you see my comment below, I’m completely in line with Christina re. foods with artificial flavors, colors, etc. Unfortunately, what I’ve been seeing on the web as of late is parents who seem to proudly proclaim that the NEVER allow their children even natural treats (any bit of sugar, white flour, etc. being an enemy to the good organic lifestyle and forget those fries). I admitted that I wrongly lumped Christina’s comments with these folks.

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35 Purple Asparagus January 31, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Christina, I must admit, I may be guilty of aggregating. I’ve seen such concerning trend of late on the web. There seems to a movement of moms (usually with kids between 2 and 7, post terrible two picky eating and pre-true independence) who seem to take a very smug approach to their kids eating and a judgmental view towards others. I see this in real life too. I actually had a woman compare feeding a child breakfast cereal to child neglect. Seriously. Your offhand comment re. pizza and juice seemed to fit within this model and I may have overreacted to it.

Yes, I too hate food additives of any kind, they don’t enter my house willingly and when they do, surreptitiously usually as gifts, Thor and I dispose of them together. I will say, however, that I have loosened my approach outside of the house when social conditions prevail. These are incredibly rare, but they do happen. Specifically, a good friend watched my son along with a group of other kids when she offered to purchase the boys ice cream. Thor turned it down feeling that the selections were not up to the quality of what we eat at home. When I talked with him later, he was clearly out of sorts. He felt left out and ostracized. We talked about how to handle this in the future and I granted him permission in the future to make an exception in these instances, telling him that once in a blue moon won’t kill you.

There is another incident that informed my response. We participated in a Girl Scout Fitness Fair recently. With various troops, wee made homemade soda: a touch of cranberry juice, a ton of seltzer, and a lime. We had an incredibly diverse group demographically, suburban girls, inner city girls, and upper middle class private school Chicago girls. The last group gave us the most trouble, at least one of them. As we started our 15 minute presentation, one little girl (age 9) interrupted me, immediately aggressively and nervously, “My mom doesn’t let me drink soda.” Obviously, I understood this position so I explained that we were making a healthy alternative with no artificial ingredients or colors. Their troop leader reassured her as well. We continued our presentation but she was disruptive throughout telling the girls around her repeatedly that our Whole Foods sparkling water was Sprite. After making our drinks, every girl tried it except for this one. I talked to Thor afterwards and explained why I would expect him to behave differently in similar circumstances. I wonder and may unreasonably suspect that many of the healthy food zealots on the web are producing children like this, fearful and rude, about any kind of food.

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36 Christina February 1, 2013 at 12:52 am

Melissa, this is going to sound strange, but I actually just teared up reading this. Ever since I read and responded to your comment hours ago, I’ve been going over and over in my head how you could have interpreted my post as you did. I try so hard to not come off as judgmental, partly because I really don’t believe that I am, and also because I, too, am pained by the trend you describe. In fact, I’ve been working on a follow-up post to this one, and I address that very thing. (You’ve now, however, given me even more to think about.)

I realize you’re not saying that you now suddenly agree with my actions, but I do appreciate the additional reflection and discussion. It really has been troubling me.

Couple of other things: We’ve had a few situations like you describe with Thor, and Tess knows she can have/taste anything if she wants to. She doesn’t always choose to, but I think knowing she *can* makes a difference. And, yikes, that GS story is appalling. Since Tess was in preschool, we’ve made clear to her that she isn’t ever to talk negatively about anyone else’s food, and I’m grateful that now, at age 9, that lesson seems to have stuck. (OK, except when she doesn’t like something *I’ve* made, LOL.) I can’t even imagine her ever doing something like this girl did. It wouldn’t even occur to her. But you’re right to be concerned in general.

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37 Purple Asparagus February 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Let’s hug it out. I feel much better now. It’s hard out there and we moms need to stick together! There are just so many of these new folks out there on the web who I have a hard time believing their kids the way they do. And if they really do, I think they’re moving towards a head-on confrontation. We need be kind to one another and have common sense about the whole subject matter. Just read your other post and I think it’s spot on.

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38 Christina February 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Hugs all around! Thanks, Melissa.

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39 katy February 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

As the parent of a young child with Type 1 diabetes, I hear you on the complexities of dealing with other families’ food ideas!

I really enjoyed this SNL spoof on high fructose corn syrup and the intense feelings parents have around party foods.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/223360

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40 katy February 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm

But please watch the whole thing—it’s not a simple slam on the uptight mom who speaks her mind!

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41 Christina February 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Ha, Katy, I posted that on my Facebook page a couple days ago! Love that spoof. Especially the ending. ;-)

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42 Pamela P February 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Chris, I think you handled the situation really, really well. I am astonished that people find your suggesting that the kids be given water in addition to the artificial drink to be rude. Many people don’t even think about checking what the party place is serving, or think about that fact that they can request or even bring something else. You were really raising the awareness of the hosts, and I think you did it pretty tactfully, everything considered! (And since this is a friend from your daughter’s school, I’m guessing they weren’t totally in the dark about your views on food anyway, so they shouldn’t have been surprised.:)

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43 Christina February 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Pam: I said that exact thing to my husband the other night — that maybe I should have mentioned in the post that most people at school are pretty aware that I’m that crazy food-blogger lady!

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44 Katy February 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm

sorry to repost— improbably learned about that SNL HFCS thing from you in the first place!

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45 Christina February 1, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Oh don’t apologize, Katy! I could watch that thing on a constant loop!

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46 Marie February 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Great job handing the situation. Kudos to that little girl and all the other kids.
AND, I agree that it is so easy to hold our child’s hand as they walk down the junk food path! I am vegan and eat no sugar (well, some dark chocolate) but I still catch myself saying to them, “Try a little of the ice cream – it looks good” before thinking, WHAT? So, I have a way to go to get to where I personally want to be, but I agree – if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t state it or live it, it is not a value but a hobby.
This story encourages me that change happens, bit by bit. Thank you.

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47 Zsuzsa March 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hi Chris,
Since your pink drink story I have been on the lookout. Just wanted to tell you that we were at a birthday party today at Tinseltown and I was impressed that they had ice water in pitchers on the table (no pink drink or other soft drink). I was less impressed that after the kids had pizza, cake, cookie cake and cupcakes, they were offered a paper box containing their choice of fountain drink and popcorn. My kids politely declined because they did not stay for the movie. They were fascinated by the box though, which was a great opening for a discussion about food at the dinner table. We ended up making air popped popcorn, with melted real butter, orange soda made of orange juice and soda stream bubbly water and ate it at the dinner table before going upstairs to watch a movie.

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48 Christina April 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Zsuzsa: Your popcorn and soda sound leagues more appealing than the fake stuff. What a fun night. And yay for your boys!

But wait: cake, cookie cake AND cupcakes?!

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49 Lauren April 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hey! I didn’t read through all the comments, so I apologize if you have already answered. But, I was wondering what you serve at birthday parties? My little girl turns one Fourth of July. She will not be eating any, because I’m exclusively breast feeding for one year. But, I care about my guest’s food. Do you have any recommendations?

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50 Christina April 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Lauren: Are you looking for food ideas? Or drinks? We’ve done different things over the years, including grilled-cheese sandwiches and crockpot chili for an at-home preschool birthday party, and sandwiches/wraps for a party held at a Gymboree. But we also always have cut veggies and fruit, and something snacky like popcorn. That’s plenty, I think. For one party (a Little House theme in a log cabin!), we just skipped the meal food altogether and had only popcorn, clementines and hot cocoa. For drinks, we’ve had parties where we offered water only (bought in those big jugs with a spigot), and have never had a complaint. Other times we’ve done hot cocoa (my daughter has a winter birthday). You can also do fruit spritzers (splash of juice in sparkling water) or homemade lemonade or something like that, if you want to be fancy. HTH?

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51 Victoria April 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

You did absolutely the right thing!! A great chance to not just educate but possibly save the life of a child – and I am not exaggerating. These awful neon drinks which are being consumed by the masses should in my opinion be banned – full stop. They are being banned in other countries… we need to catch up! We don’t know how people will react to these non-foods, so voicing concerns might make people feel a little uncomfortable… but I really do believe that we need to start challenging each other a bit more in life!!

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52 Elizabeth May 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

I love this post and love that once there was an option the kids really did want the choice. I think choice is what matters here, and in fact, as an adult I face this dilemma all the time! My husband and I don’t drink alcohol or soda really and limit our juice intake. Because of this we basically have been forced to bring drinking water to any event or party we go to, because most of the time, the only drink offered are wine/beer, soda or juice. When we ask for water, they either look at us like we are crazy, or bring us the tiniest little glass of water you can image that is swallowed down in one gulp, and while they are busy filling and refilling the wine glasses, we somehow get over looked. So frustrating! Now if we as adults have to deal with this, I can only image what kids are forced to drink because they don’t have a choice and often don’t have a voice either.

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53 Pamela May 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm

AWESOME! Keep on keepin’ on. :)

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