Snacks: The New Epidemic

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
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A common criticism of this current generation of spawn is that they are weak. Coddled. Unable to handle adult challenges. I am partly annoyed and offended by this judgment; the other part of me completely agrees. I am thankful that my kids haven’t had to face war, starvation, death, or any real fear beyond spiders. But I am also concerned that if and when a true obstacle comes their way, they may not be ready — or that any of our kids will be ready. When that challenge faces them, you know what might not be there? Fricking snacks.

That’s right, parents. This is a real problem: The need for a snack to magically appear in our children’s hands at 30-minute intervals throughout the day is making them spoiled and giving rise to a belief that a snack is not only an actual meal, but also a necessity.

I have adjusted (not entirely willingly) to the after-game and after-practice snack trend. You know the one. If your kid plays a sport or does any physical activity beyond blinking for more than 30 minutes, you are required to sign up to bring snack one week. I’m still not sure how or why this is a thing. I’m pretty sure we played for three straight hours growing up and our parents threw us a Cheerio or two afterwards, but whatever. Such is life in 2016 suburbia.

I have also accepted that snack expectations are continuously evolving. Just when I thought I was all good with bringing Gatorade and cookies, I was met with the snack bag. After my 3-year-old’s “game” every week (and I use that term loosely), he has been provided with a bag in which he will find a juice box and at least two snacks, such as pretzels and fruit snacks, etc. A fricking bag of snacks is the new thing — for 3-year-olds who pretty much stand around picking their noses while almost peeing themselves.

But fine. I got my ass on board with that one too.

But then this past week I dropped my 5-year-old off at art camp. Art Camp is 90 minutes long. It’s held indoors in the mid-morning, nestled comfortably between breakfast and lunch (lost English words that have been taken over by our snack epidemic). I walked her in on the first day with clothes on her body and shoes on her feet. That’s it. And upon check-in, the instructor greeted me with, “You can put her snack on the counter there.”


“I’m supposed to bring snack for her?” I replied.

“Well…you don’t have to, but you can if you want.”

I glanced over at the counter and saw nine snacks happily lined up all in a row. There are 10 kids in the class. You do the math.

Shit. Although I did not believe for one second that my daughter needed a snack, (as she just ate breakfast 11 minutes ago), and although I’m a cheap-ass and kind of thought she should be making timeless art masterpieces for the entire 90 fricking minutes that I paid for, I’m also not one to let my kid be embarrassed. Especially this kid, my only daughter and middle child, who is often stuck in the dust storm between her older brother’s big-kid events and her younger brother’s tantrums.

“There’s a vending machine downstairs if you want to get her something,” the instructor offered.

Okay. So I checked out the vending machine, which only takes cash despite the fact that it’s 2016. As usual, my purse was empty of all non-plastic currency. But don’t give up yet! I told myself. I’ll bet there’s change in the 4-wheeled abyss of dirty shoes and granola bar wrappers that drove us here. Let’s look.

The boys and I got to work, bravely sticking our fingers under seats and finding random nickels that were semi-adhered to the van carpet by old fruit roll-ups. One kid excitedly found a quarter, but that jackpot celebration was short-lived when we looked closer and learned it was a Chuck E. Cheese’s token. However, after a committed search, we did scrounge up enough change to purchase their sister a snack. Good work, team.

We then drove around for an hour (as we did not even have enough time to go home and come back), and returned to camp to pick her up. She came bouncing out the doors, grinning with happiness.

And holding her vending machine popcorn that she didn’t have time to eat.

Tomorrow, Mommy will pack a “real snack” for her 90-minute indoor coloring camp. Hopefully tomorrow’s camp craft will be a “Mom of the Year” necklace, because Momma needs one.

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