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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why do I let my kids eat junk food?

Pokemon Master
Some things that seem to have no value actually have value.

For instance, I used to think Pokemon had no value. But in order to play the game 'for real' my middle son had to read and do math. He loved the game so much it motivated him to learn to read some mighty big words and to learn how to subtract hit points. Not bad for a kindergartener.

Ninjago Bad Guy
 (who is the brother of the good guy). 
So, with that in mind, I tried to reserve judgement on the next all-consuming toy that came our way, Ninjago. There wasn't any reading or math involved in Ninjago, but it did help them build small motor skills and encouraged creative play by acting out some of the adventures of the Ninjago. Also the theme song is very rock 'n' roll and I don't mind that. And then we found Ninjago books - hoorary! More motivated reading!

Spend your money to collect them all. 
But then the next toy fad that swept the house pretty much had no real hidden learning opportunities. Skylanders, while offering the potential for creative play, is basically just a money-sucking video game set-up.

Skylanders encourages kids to spend money on the action figures and then set the figures on an expensive portal and play the video game on the television. No books. No math. Just button-mashing. Expensive button-mashing.

My Virgo nature does make me very judgmental. I can be pretty critical. But the optimistic part of my nature means I also try hard to see the good side of toy fads, just like I try to see the good side of certain foods.

Popcorn is a snack food, but when it's not loaded with fake oils and butter it's not bad at all. Chocolate-covered almonds can be seen as a candy, but they are full protein and seratonin-inducing chocolate. Yum.

Yet even the most generous, optimistic, forgiving version of me cannot let go of my grudge against Nutella and Biscoff. They are the twin demons of my pantry, like those freaky ghost dudes from the second Matrix movie.

Nutella and Biscoff taste damn good. And they are European! But they are not nutritious. Not nutritious at all. Yet morning after morning my older two children dive right in and fix themselves Nutella and Biscoff sandwiches. Sometimes separate, but when they are mixed my middle child tells me he's eating "Niscoff." (Despite my husband's hilarious suggestion of Butella.)

There is no reason to allow my children to continue to eat these foods. Yet I do. What is my reasoning? Do I worry that by denying all junk they will someday not long in the future rebel and devolve into eating only crap? Do I allow it because I, too, know the power of the sweet tooth? Am I afraid that by eliminating the junk my family will label me an 'food extremist?'

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