Posted by: Admin | September 9, 2011

Sweet & Sour

Love on a plate

I was chatting to a young friend on Facebook the other day who is about to have her second baby, and she mentioned how angry and frustrated she gets when her grandmother gives her little boy sweets and biscuits. Ah, I told her, you’re talking to the wrong person – I’m guilty as charged – I really do have to reign myself in when it comes to offering sweet treats to my grandies.

I explained to my friend that feeding the little boy sugar was probably the way her grandmother showed her love. It got me thinking – when we were small sweets and chocolate were rationed – not in a “during the war” kind of way – I’m not that old! – but certainly they were saved for… well, rewards and treats.

One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother, with whom I lived at the time, scooping up a fingerful of butter from the butter dish on the table, dipping it in the sugar bowl and popping it into my mouth. It makes me feel quite sick to think of it now, but it remains in my memory as an association not only with her, but the feeling of being loved. Powerful stuff, psychologically.

Remember, people weren’t as effusive with their hugs or their praise back in the 50’s and 60’s – we weren’t far away from the “spare the rod, spoil the child” philosophy of child rearing. An approving look, a kiss or a cuddle were jewels to be treasured from our grandparents. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us, they just showed it differently. One of the ways they showed it was with sweets.

One of my grandmothers never visited without boiled sweets (“acid drops”, as I recall) in her voluminous handbag, another baked cakes. When my own children came along, I always had a chocolate bar in the car when I picked them up from school (until we worked out we could go on holiday with the money if we gave them up!)

So if any young parents are reading this, don’t be too hard on your parents and grandparents – we don’t mean to undermine you. Telling us not to buy your children confectionary is like telling us we are not allowed to show our love. It really isn’t about sugar and calories. Point it out to us, and we’ll realise, hopefully. And if we don’t, take comfort from the fact that your children, brought up on apples and raisins, will more than likely say “no thank you” to our wilder excesses in any case.

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