Road to perdition not paved in Skittles

Renee James Contributor
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Hello and welcome to this year’s White House’s Easter Egg Hunt / Spring Festival / Gaia Celebration. We’re thrilled to share this day of fun, family and fitness. Yes, fitness. Quick note: anyone who still needs to register his or her BMI, please join the line forming near the Zumba class area, adjacent to the wheat grass/carrot juice tent.

Before we get started, please open your Participant’s Handbook to Chapter 7, Section 17a, Part 9, for an explanation of the new guidelines about our day here at the White House. Our plan ensures that everyone will not only have fun, but also a great workout! Reading more than 47 pages and then signing the permission form in the next several minutes may be challenging, but be assured that all the information will be posted online for your review. We hope you like the changes we have in mind!

Let’s be clear. We like fun—we love encouraging fun—fun should be what makes up a great deal of our children’s lives. But it’s not fun when it comes at the price of their health. And let’s face it: ‘healthy’ doesn’t spring to mind when you’re a kid, racing downstairs to your basket on Easter morning. We want to change that and change can be good, right? We hope so.

That’s why, this year, we’re substituting more healthful choices for the more traditional treats and candies. There are those who say: “This is good. Cutting down on sugar and empty calories are the first steps toward a healthier nation.” Others may say: “Hands off, pal. Those nonpareils and peanut butter eggs are my business.” But after much consideration, we’ve concluded that you just need to trust that what’s coming is really, really good for you, and still lots of fun. Examples: Instead of gummy bears: dates and figs. Same ‘stuck in your teeth’ sensation, only without the little bear face. In place of foil-wrapped chocolate kisses, we have carob-drops in biodegradable bags. And we’ve replaced jellybeans with dark-chocolate-covered raisins. They’re still chewy—just like your holiday favorites—with the added bonus of super-rich anti-oxidants! Yum! While nothing screams Easter like jellybeans, let’s not lose sight of the fact that nothing screams “my BMI is 29” like a basket full of jellybeans.

And finally, in the spirit of the health and happiness of our children, we’re changing the way we distribute eggs this year. Please turn to Appendix S (for ‘share’), Section 14c, Part 5 which clarifies the hunt rules, including a flowchart illustrating the best options for sharing eggs with those around you, should you find two or more eggs and they don’t find even one. Parents: please note the special section titled “How to Explain to Your Children That This Is Still a Competition Even Though Everyone Gets to Win a Prize.”


Not one bit of that is happening at the White House; at least, I don’t think it is.

But it almost feels like it could, right? The Let’s Move initiative includes an effort to encourage good nutrition and exercise habits among children, habits they just may keep for a lifetime. And the theme of this year’s hunt is “Ready, Set, Go!” to promote health and wellness. Maybe the time is right. According to a New York Times article, one-third of American children are overweight. Carrying extra pounds indicates a greater risk for conditions that could be mitigated if not avoided altogether by maintaining a healthy weight. This year’s White House Easter Egg Roll is taking the initiative to the extreme, promising “the activities will encourage children to lead healthy and active lives and follow the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative, a national campaign to combat childhood obesity.”

Fine. I get it. Who would be opposed to healthier children? I also support government money (our taxes, by the way) that helps lower income families get assistance and ensure their children are nourished healthfully and grow up cognizant of smart nutritional choices.

But the question is: whatever happened to parents raising their children and buying the groceries and calling the shots when it comes to the food in their kitchens, or in the schools their taxes support? Whatever happened to the concept of “moderation” and the word “treat?” Fact: fruits and vegetables; lean protein and dairy products, and healthy beverages are excellent sources of the vitamins, minerals and hydration we need to be healthy and strong. I won’t deny that if you won’t deny that a speckled malted robin egg, a coconut cream egg or milk chocolate bunny ear offers a different kind of nourishment. The ‘once-in-a-while’ kind. The ‘special occasion,’ ‘this is SO good’ kind. The kind children get at an Easter Egg Hunt, whether it’s on the White House Lawn, in a community park, or your own back yard for God’s sake of America. Or used to get, anyway.

Suffice it to say: the road to perdition is not paved with Skittles.

Renee James writes social commentary and keeps track of the things that mystify her on her blog: It’s not me, it’s you, found at reneeaj.blogspot.com. Her email address is raaj3@msn.com.