The gum epidemic | chronicle

dear anna,

I was listening to the conversation of three mothers at the bus stop and I couldn’t believe what they were saying — apparently pre-teens now (or at least I only found out now!) leave school in a group to go spend their weekly allowances and all their change found in GOMAS. Ana, dear daughter, Gummies = Sugar.

I still thought it was a Carnival prank, but apparently it’s really serious, and really serious. Aware of the new fashion, there are gum shops and the like opening like mushrooms near schools, where healthy food fanatics drove the balls out of Berlin.

I looked at them in disbelief, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, and as you might guess, I couldn’t resist joining in on the conversation. They upset the grandparents so much because they wanted to give porridge to their dear grandchildren — “Papa? Mom already read the packaging!!! Have you seen how much sugar is in each spoonful?!” —, because they had the audacity to buy them a lollipop or a chocolate — “Don’t you know that it causes cavities and, moreover, excites them and then they don’t sleep?” — and now this!

Well, with the strikes and punctures, I calculate how high the hyperglycemia levels of the creatures are. Adam and Eve had already warned that the forbidden fruit was the most desirable.

Seriously now, Ana — what’s going on? Do you know?

Dear mother,

We still have to find out if it wasn’t the grandmothers who addicted them to sweets, when the parents turned their backs. Well, we warned you that sugar worked like a drug, didn’t we? But if my memories don’t deceive me, the phenomenon is not new, because I remember filling bags of gum before going to the cinema.

Do you want me to give you my opinion? It seems to me that the kids are exploring the feeling of freedom that it gives them to be able to go out, many of them for the first time, alone from school, to venture to the nearest café, which becomes a kind of club. This is because the school bar, the other mythical space romanticized by pre-teens, no longer sells anything particularly appetizing. They train, at the same time, “financial independence”, the pleasure of being able to invest some pocket money in something cheap and that you can share with friends.

The big question is how do we help them manage these new freedoms — it’s the beginning of a debate between parents and children about how and what they spend money on, freedom of movement, choices, exploration of limits. Gummies can help parents become aware that the time has come to think about these dynamics, so that when the “desires” are more complex, the machine is already oiled.

Because more difficult to manage than gum is the issue of security — the way to get to those stores or cafes —, and the fear that, as a group, they’ll do stupid things that, individually, wouldn’t cross their minds.

This opening of the cage is a huge challenge for parents, and the first impulse is to prohibit it. But, prohibitively prohibiting also has many risks, because if everyone goes and our child is the only one who stays at school, it is very likely that he will end up not resisting the temptation to “escape” with the others and to hide the escape, lying . And lying is the greatest poison in a relationship, corroding the only weapon we really have to navigate our children’s adolescence: trust.

But, Mom, there’s one thing that we as parents should really demand: better conditions in schools for kids to be with each other, when they’re not in the classroom.

Many schools don’t have common rooms, they don’t have a space where they can sit down and eat together — if they don’t have lunch from school —, places where they can stay during drills or between classes, especially on days when it’s cold outside or too hot. Because, if it obviously didn’t solve everything, I believe it helped to create a healthy environment that dissuaded people from leaving there in search of other, more welcoming places.

O mother’s tantrumsone grandmother/mother (and also mother-in-law) and a mom daughter, soon to have four children, separated by the quarantine, began to write to each other daily, to talk about their fears, irritations, perplexity, anger, misunderstandings, but also about the feeling of perfect communion that — occasionally! — to the invade. And, after the confinement, they realized that they did not want to lose this communication channel, in the hope that whoever reads them, mother or grandmother, will feel that they are talking about themselves.

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