'Moms, Think About This!': a Welcome Rap on Crap

By Marilynn Preston

June 20, 2017 5 min read

This month, I'm researching personal well-being on a small, gorgeous remote Greek island. Be happy for me. A generous spirit is a sign that your healthy-lifestyle training is paying off.

Up the street and around the corner, next to the school, is a playground for the children of my neighborhood. Before the latest equipment arrived, it was a messy field starved for attention, overgrown with weeds, a random selection of battered structures that no self-respecting 8-year-old wanted to play on.

Overnight — which in Greece can take up to seven years — the space was transformed from nothing special into something wonderful. I can hear their giggles from my terrace. The kids are whooping it up, swinging on the jungle gym, balancing on the seesaw, sliding down something that could be the tongue of a giant frog.

Playtime is crucial for a child's development. It's a way for girls and boys to overcome fear, develop empathy and learn to share. Free play builds strength, confidence and creativity, whereas texting 40 times a day builds... what, exactly?

In this little Greek community — in a tiny corner of a financially battered country that is slashing salaries and collecting taxes as fast as it can — the mothers didn't wait for the government to come build their kids a safe place to play.

Instead, they took matters into their own hands. As a small association — the Greeks call it a "syllogos" — the neighborhood moms and dads decided that a first-class playground was a priority for them. They saved, they fundraised, they pooled their resources, and eventually, they made it happen — a revitalized play area with so much new equipment crammed into it that the kids can barely move. That's OK. They'll figure it out. That's what the Greeks are famous for.

Citizen action — especially from the moms — is on my mind after watching a recent video of our former first lady Michelle Obama being interviewed on stage at the Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington, D.C., in May. It was not held at a Trump hotel.

"Moms! Think about this," she called out to all women everywhere; women who need to know that the Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era regulations that promoted healthier meals and less junk food for schoolchildren. "I don't care what state you live in, take me out of the equation, like me, don't like me, but think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap. Why should you sit idly by and be OK with that?"

She called it "crap"? Yes! To me, it's a bigger bomb than the F-word, because she's absolutely correct that kids all over America, and now the world, are being fed crap. Toxic processed foods in schools and at home, pushed at the grocery store, mercilessly advertised on TV: fake food-like products that are perfectly legal and absolutely lethal when it comes to the health and well-being of your child. (And you, of course.)

These manufactured products are one big reason why boys and girls are growing fatter and sicker every day.

"What is going on?" Michelle Obama asked eight different ways, even though she knows perfectly well what is going on. Healthier food fed to kids in school shouldn't be a partisan issue. Neither should letting people know what is in the food they are buying, and how many calories it has — another set of rules and regulations that the Trumpians are tossing into the disposal.

"This is where you have to look at motives," she said. "You have to stop and think: Why don't you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?"

Nothing wrong that a good syllogos can't fix.

It's time to take charge. The Trump administration has a different agenda. It's up to parents to rise above the politics of the day and do what's right for our kids. They're not supposed to be so fat, so sedentary, so overmedicated, so left to their own devices.

Build a playground and they will come. Feed them real food, healthy and tasty food — in school and out — and they will eat it. Not right away, maybe, but eventually.

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! CRAPPY LITTLE SECRET REVEALED

"Because here's the secret: If somebody is doing that, they don't care about your kid. And we need to demand everyone to care deeply about our kids. That's all we have." — Michelle Obama

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.

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