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How to be pretentious at a preschooler’s birthday party

My kids went to a private preschool. The place is awesome. It is in a custom-built, self-sustainable little schoolhouse on the grounds of a nature preserve. Tuition was more than the taxes on my home.

The teachers are kind and loving. The kids are learning and exploring. The parents range from frumpy to stuck-up. Fitting.

There is a series of sticky notes on the refrigerator in their little kitchen identifying a list of 20 items that cannot be in any of the snacks due to allergies or lifestyle choices. There are only 18 children in the class.

For the record, I am heart-broken for the parents who’s kids have allergies. It is terrifying to think that an accidental exposure could make your child scary sick. It is an absolute blessing for them to find a school as conscientious as our preschool. It is no trouble for me to make a sunbutter sandwich instead of peanut butter. Small price to pay.

True confession – I was a vegetarian for 10 years. I pass no judgement on vegetarians, vegans, keto, gluten-free, or just people who don’t like tomatoes. I applaud freedom and acceptance of healthier eating in almost all its forms. Do whatever works for you.

Ok, then, where is this going?

When you have a kid, you get a lot of birthday invitations. (If you don’t, check to see if your kid is kind of a jerk.)

Most parents at a kid’s birthday party hang back, chat to new people and check their phones. Some parents view a preschooler’s birthday party as an opportunity to boldly impress upon the world just how normal and fulfilling a low sugar lifestyle can be. You will come across more of these Fire-and-Brimstone Sugar Preachers if you send your kid to a self-sustaining preschool on the grounds of a nature preserve. These people are intense.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the idea of my kids over-dosing on sugar. I don’t think a high-sugar lifestyle is healthy. Parents who are diligent about watching their kid’s consumption of sugar should be commended. It’s hard work to be consistent.

However, I have seen parents who take it to the next level. Parents so inherently judgmental and high-strung that they clearly view a preschooler’s birthday party as their golden opportunity to lead by example with a passion. As the party progresses, their voice becomes elevated. Their breathing grows shallow; their behavior is increasingly frantic.

Truth be told, a kid’s birthday party is just not the best place for a Sugar Preacher. But I’ll probably never convince one of that. I don’t think they are good listeners.

In reality, the more frantic the Sugar Preacher appears to be, the more the other parents brush off their words and actions. Hey, if you want to tell me about a delicious new bakery that makes low sugar, gluten-free cupcakes, I’ll listen up. After all, you had me at “delicious”. I appreciate some low-sugar eating tips. But here is a real-life, jaw-dropping example of extreme Sugar Preacher behavior.

The Sugar Preacher

Once upon a time, a Sugar Preacher was invited to a four year old’s birthday party. It’s no one’s fault. It just happened.

It started off well. She walked into the party room with a sweet little package wrapped in hand-stamped brown paper, what a cute and personal touch for a present. Lovely.

Then came the first sign of escalation in her behavior.

There were three metal bowls filled with rainbow goldfish crackers in a line down the center of the table. She shot them the stink eye.

The goldfish just smiled back. Way to antagonize, guys.

She strolled over to her daughter and, loud enough for the other parents to hear her, reminded the little girl not to eat any crackers. They’re not good for you.

When her daughter went over to check out the cooler, she hovered above her, “No juice, Honey. It is full of sugar.” Yeah, that was loud enough. We heard you, Sugar Preacher.

She seemed to hold it together through the fun and games. When the kids were called over to the table for pizza, she quickly whipped out a little snack pack of healthy food she had brought from home and set it down in front of her daughter. No problem, lots of parents bring their kids food from home when they are worried about allergies or ingredients in the party food. But by then, I think the warm scent of vanilla cake looming in the background sent her over the top.

She began a well-practiced sequenced with her little girl. “Now, Honey, there is watermelon here. I’m going to let you have a piece if you eat your healthy lunch but not too much.” The little girl replied, “I know, Mommy, because fruit is sugar.”

Too far, Sugar Preacher, too far.

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14 thoughts on “How to be pretentious at a preschooler’s birthday party

  1. I have seen so much of that. Now I only see it in the form of virtue signaling online because I don’t hang out in those circles anymore. “Preacher” is precisely the right term because they have turned dietary choice into a moral issue of right and wrong, therefore they are compelled to “save” others from making the “wrong” choices. My dietary choices have nothing to do with yours nor yours of mine.

    1. Eat what you want to, woodboneandstone. And I will do the same.

      1. Exactly! I’m Greg, by the way.

      2. Thanks, Greg! I won’t forget it. I’m Tiffany.

  2. This made me giggle. I have been to a birthday party where the child was not allowed any of their own birthday cake!

    1. Oh wow. It’s good to limit sugar, but maybe they could have done something other than cake? That’s a toughie.

  3. I love this piece – says so much about all sorts of issues in our lives 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the compliment

  4. Awwwwwwww…. Let children be children just a little bit. Each to their own, etc etc, but don’t some people realise how they can cause trouble by making their child stand out from the others for no serious reason? As my mother would say – Everything in moderation. She ate sugar, fat, butter, cream, you name it, and lived through a war to tell the tale. 🙂
    Nice, wry blog by the way!

    1. Absolutely! Everything in moderation is a good, simple path to follow.

  5. Ha, feel sorry for these sorts of people. Yeah sugar isn’t good, but you do need some to exist. If your child loves fruit, that’s the least of your problems ; p

    Yes, good old moderation in everything, that’s the way to go : D


    1. Is it the kid or the mom we should feel sorry for? Maybe both. I wonder what the grandma is like. Hummmmm?

  6. I now feel really bad about the negligent eway I parented my feral offspring. 🙂

    Well, maybe not…

  7. Agreed. I’ve seen another, more insidious problem at toddler birthday parties. The parents who see life as a competitive olympics, their child against all the rest. Racing for best and most varied activities, being pushed into the glories of reason and facts and logic and received knowledge and vocabulary — at the expense of anything which smells vaguely artistic. Then it gets reflected in the kid’s comments next time you see them. They say things no 4 or 5 year old would ever think about on their own, obviously revealing their parent’s bias about you.

    Kids are great though. I love them. 🙂

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