Mildly Caffeinated

On the last day of my deadline extension for this article, I was coming down from a very depressing day. Having started out pretty much the evening before with the wake of my 83 year old great-aunt, one of the kewlest women I know, then her funeral this morning. I sit down at my 'puter with my mind on writing about talking to kids about death and a Jolt cola in my hand and not much looking forward to such a depressing subject at the end of such a depressing day.

Much as life throws things in our paths just when we need them, the show running in the background, 20/20 of ABC, is running a report on kids and caffeine in soft drinks like the one in my hand. What they call the king of caffeine sodas... Jolt. My lifeline, my artificial joy, my "bwankie". Being maligned by a prime time tabloid show masquerading as news.

Righteous indignation rises from the depths of my soul, then fades as the main target of the report is in fact Mountain Dew. A product that at least when I was a teen, was less soda than sugared water and even to this day looks for all the world like a cold bottle of urine. I couldn't care less about a news show griping about Mountain Dew. Then as I watch them interviewing a group of teenaged brothers who each claim to go through three or four liters of Mountain Dew a day, my ire rises again. With one marked difference though.

What sort of parent can buy such mass quantities for their teenagers to consume daily and then in the same breath state they wish the product had the amount of caffeine listed on the bottle so they could know if their kids are getting more or less than what's in a cup of coffee. (Spijder takes a deep breath and tries not to roll her eyes) WAKE UP!!! If your child is drinking 3 to 4 liters of any soda except a caffeine free one (whose sugar content is a crime in itself) they're getting more caffeine than there is in a cup of coffee. they're probably getting the equivalent of at least half a dozen cups a coffee. And then the parents wonder why the Ritalin doesn't seem to be working.

I'm sure more than half the kids out there who are supposed to be hyper-active are actually in fact hopped up on a combination caffeine/sugar high caused solely from the constant and endless supply of sodas, colas and softdrinks being perpetually shoved into the refrigerators by automaton-like grocery shopping parents.

Anyone looking in my own refrigerator would think me a hypocrite for writing the above. My defense... its MY soda. I'm the only one hopped up on the combination caffeine/sugar high in my house. My younger daughter is not even 2 yet, she's just recently received her first taste of peanut butter and has many years to go before being granted her first glass of soda. My elder daughter at 8 is an infrequent soda drinker. Shell occasionally take a sip out of the glass that sits like a sentinel keeping a vigil over my online time as it sits beside my computer. Yet she is rarely if ever seen in the possession of a glass of soda of her own. 99 percent of the time when she asks to get a drink from the fridge for herself, she requests the iced tea or the grape-cranberry juice, her two favorites. As for my husband, he only drinks soda with his dinner or finishes mine after diverting my attention.

The drinking soda with meals is something else that boggles my mind. I was raised in such a way that milk is the only logical and taste-fulfilling beverage with any meal be it steak and potatoes, Chinese take out or a pizza delivered right to our door. Anything else, soda, juice, beer or wine, is to me, un-natural and disturbing to the point of rendering the meal unpalatable to me if I'm forced to do without milk during a meal. Mealtime is the only time I set the bottle or glass of soda from my hand and pick up one filled with the more healthsome drink: Got milk? If I'm eating actual food, hell yeah, you better believe it.

Its evident by the way she teases her father for drinking soda with dinner that my eldest has picked up that quirk from me. she's a staunch believer that only juice or milk is consumable with actual meal food. Will she also be as much of a soda dependent liquid-sugar freak as her mother when she grows to adulthood? Maybe, but until she's filling her own fridge, she's not getting my soda and neither I or my husband is about to give her a magical fridge resplendent with an unending supply of soda.