Exams, awards, field day, Finding Nemo, one last half day, and then itís over. My teen and I will celebrate by having lunch out. Then we will head to the grocery store to purchase Sugar Week supplies. The first week of summer vacation in our household was affectionately named Sugar Week when our boys were in elementary school and first noticed they were different. They were children of a mom who didnít believe a toaster pastry was an appropriate breakfast food. During comparative lunching in the elementary cafeteria, it became obvious to my children that they were in the minority.

Their mean olí parents forced healthy foods upon them. Their lunches included real fruit rather than delectable fruit ďbitesĒ made with 10 percent REALģ fruit juice. I made most of their cookies and brownies. They also had to endure whole grain breads and a variety of real cheeses that did not contain yellow or red dyes. Sure, they could trade foods during lunch, but they didnít have much success convincing their friends to give up the molded, perfectly shaped flavored chips for a bag of carrots. Being boys, they had healthy appetites, so much of the healthy foods I sent were actually consumed.

But at the end of the year, if they did well and their grades were acceptable, we go shopping. My children are each allowed to pick out one box of cereal, one box of toaster pastries, one snack, one dessert, and one soft drink. Most of their friends canít wait to get out of school because they can sleep in or go on vacation. My children begin the countdown for Sugar Week as soon as Easter break ends.

My pediatrician once gave me a lecture about how unhealthy it was for us to buy our children these foods at the end of each school year. I listened and smiled. But I still do it every year. You see, I know from years of Sugar Week experience that after 36 straight weeks of healthy eatingówith the exception of holiday treatsómy children  wonít actually finish all the junk food they select. In mid-July, I will collect all the half eaten bags of chips and moldy toaster pastries and discard them. Meanwhile, my heart smiles smugly at the fact that we canít keep enough salad, carrots, fruit, or juice in the house!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books.  
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