By Jacoba Urist, TODAY contributor
Ask most any kid: Birthdays are synonymous with cupcakes. But families in Edmonds School District, a suburb of Seattle, have been told they can no longer bring birthday treats to school. Instead, parents are encouraged to distribute appropriate alternatives, like stickers and pencils.
That's right, pencils.
To be expected, some are poking fun at the cupcake ban and blaming first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating initiatives for messing with a harmless tradition. Yet many Edmonds parents applaud the new rule — because it's healthier for kids, and because it lets parents avoid the stress of being expected to provide dessert for the whole class.
Erin Orens, an Edmonds parent of two boys, remembers when her oldest, now 11, was in first grade and she couldn't afford a birthday party: The classroom celebration was very important to her son.
She understands that childhood obesity is a major problem. But she worries that encouraging parents to substitute crafty birthday alternatives for cupcakes will only fuel the social media “mommy wars.”
“It’s bad enough to see who made the best cupcakes or who just stopped by the grocery store,” says Orens. “But now to see who makes the best non-food celebration? Low-income families and single moms that really don’t have time to think or deal with this will have the hardest time.”
Edmonds is just the latest district to ban sugary sweets in an effort to fight obesity. Similar bans are in effect at some schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Boulder, Colorado; Louisville, Kentucky; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Bans on homemade treats bring peace of mind to parents of children with allergies. Melissa Dobrich, who has a daughter who is severely allergic to peanuts and will start school in several years, says she wasn’t previously aware of all the precautions a parent must take when a child is highly sensitive to an allergen. “I don’t want to spoil everyone’s fun,” says Dobrich. “I just want a safe place for my daughter to learn.”
Video games might actually be good for kids, so long as they play for less than an hour a day, according to a new study.
When North Dakota mom Cindy Bjerke felt her 18-year-old daughter had misbehaved, she took to Facebook to sell the girl’s Katy Perry concert tickets as punishment.