Who can make school administrators hyperventilate? What sends teachers into cold sweats? Who can kill a Valentine’s or end-of-school party with a simple phone call campaign? No Child Left Behind? Mandatory testing?
No, it’s a shrill, preachy, obsessed, helicopter mom whose greatest fear is that her darlings will – ‘horror’ – eat a sugary treat at school. Here’s a woman who really knows how to kill a class party. MeMe Roth has made a one-woman industry out of fighting sugar and fat in all its public school incarnations. Just visit her website at National Action Against Obesity and you’d swear the webmaster for PETA was working on this as a side job. Does anyone see the big rebellion coming along when her kids decide they don’t want to be indoctrinated in Mom’s ‘sugar is bad’ propaganda camp anymore? When they hit 16 it won’t be binge drinking they go for, but all night pig outs at friend’s houses, eating Crispy Creme donuts and shotgunning Big Red.
I live in San Antonio, Fat Capital of the US, so I’m well aware of the dangers of childhood obesity. Every day I see the results of poor parenting and poverty and I can empathize a bit with MeMe Roth’s ideology. I also happen to be the mom of a chubby boy so I do my share of preaching about healthy eating habits. I encourage lots of physical exercise and sports, and teach him food awareness and nutrition. I review the school menus, and applaud the ban on cafeteria vending machines. However, am I abusing my child as MeMe Roth believes, by allowing him to eat a cupcake during school parties? I think there’s more abuse in the rules she enforces on her own kids than the simple fun of celebrating a classmate’s birthday with a small cupcake and a juice box.
Where is the moderation in this crusade? Many parents have become so focused on optimizing their childrens’ chances for success, beauty and health, they suck out a lot of what makes childhood fun and memorable. I think it’s a pretty good bet that many of the children of zealots do not take up their parents’ causes when they grow up. They see where concern and reasonableness end, and instead become a source of childhood embarrasment and resentment.