I’m an anti-soda mom with about a 12% failure rate, more or less. I also subject my kids to all manner of food indignities like cardboard pop tarts, cereal not endorsed by colorful characters, and organic juice boxes. My daughter asked to change schools last year, so severe was the shame she experienced from not carrying full-throttle Capri Sun in her lunchbox.
I feed my kids very healthy food most days, but I am not above bribing them with sugar if necessary. Sugar is delicious. Sugar motivates. Today I needed to bribe. We went to the playground with some friends and their kids and, despite having one tired little guy on my hands who hadn’t slept well for the last couple of nights, planned to go to lunch afterward. My son wanted to go home, but dammit, I wanted to go to lunch. Clearly, concessions had to be made.
The kids know they can’t order soda at restaurants, unless it is a special occasion. I am fairly hardcore about this since they like restaurants and will readily accept, If you want to go out to eat, no soda. With zero leverage today I agreed that Yes, you can have Sprite. What’s a little sugar and abandoned family values when mama gets to talk to adults about bloggy things?
The restaurant we chose has the most dreaded of all kid drinks, duhn, duhn, duhnnnn – red fountain Hi-C fruit punch. I learned the hard way what stuff with red dye can do to my kids, and they know they aren’t allowed to have it, special occasion or not, no matter what, and they accept it. They respect me, you know.
It enrages me that, like high fructose corn syrup, red dye is in everything, even in foods that aren’t red. Foods that don’t need to be red, like yogurt. Adorably packaged, heavily marketed during SpongeBob stuff, that promises utter delight. I am ever vigilant. My son is particularly sensitive to red foods and he knows the deal. No red dye, ever! He will tell strangers he’s not allowed to have red dye. He reminds his father.
The soda fountain punch is the worst of the worst. It is humiliation hooch which causes otherwise moderately well-mannered children to flip out to the point of flinging food and chasing their tails until you double the tip and slink out dragging your jittering kids. I’ve heard.
So that is why, when I sent my son to the counter today to get his Sprite refilled so I could chat some more and he came back with a full cup of the shiny red liquid and a cheesy grin, I never saw it coming.