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Shinn column: Rise of the machines

Oh, happy day! The Memorial Day weekend finally arrived ó the unofficial start of summer. The official opening of swimming pools. The same sound all over the county.
“Maaaaammmaaaa, why won’t you buy me more foooooood?!!?”
What is it with kids and vending machines?
What is the allure of the bottled soft drinks, the bags of chips in small, shiny packages?
Every summer, it’s the same thing.
Resolute Mom on the Saturday the pool opens: “We are not eating out of the machine all summer. Go get a carrot stick out of the pool bag!”
Defeated Mom on Memorial Day: “Here. Here’s another dollar. Go! Get what you want! Just stop whining!”
It’s not as if we moms don’t try. I long ago gave up the idea of taking healthy snacks to the pool. Andrew rarely eats junk food during the school year ó but he dadblame makes up for it all summer.
On Saturday, we stopped and bought two bags of Oreos and two huge bags of chips.
Lisa had PBJs. Susan had a big ziplock bag of pretzels.
We just do a communal snack thing over in our corner.
And what do I spy at pool break?
Andrew coming from the vending machine with a bag of Funyuns.
Funyuns, for Pete’s sake!
Underneath the shelter, Rhonda’s son Eli was whining about how hungry he was ó popsicle-stained lips and all.
I mean, this boy must’ve been starving ó only after his mother and I started talking, mind you.
“May he have some c-h-i-p-s?” I asked her.
“Sure!” she said, caving.
A handful of barbecue Lay’s shut him up quick.
This is a problem at other pools as well.
I talked to my colleague Emily Ford on Thursday morning. Emily happens to be president of her pool.
“Before we were going so much, I allowed the kids to have concessions only on Fridays,” she said. “They could have two things ó one healthy snack and one ‘nasty habit,’ as Nellie calls it.
“Now that I’m president of the pool, we go all the time, and I’ve totally caved.”
The only thing that might work, Emily said, was to ask your pool to stock more healthy options ó stuff like pretzels, individual servings of fruit, Go-Gurt, cheese sticks and the like.
“It’s very alluring,” Emily admitted of those vending machines.
And expensive!
Leslie and I were talking, and if she allowed her boys to have just one drink and one snack once a day, that was $4.50, she noted, a gallon of gas!
As with everything else that has to do with successful parenting, it’s all about being consistent.
Ugh.
So I’ll continue to pack the cooler with chips and cookies and drinks. I’ve told Andrew that if he wants something out of the machine, he’s gonna have to pay for it with his own money.
The pool will be open again this weekend.
I’m gonna be more resolute, I’m gonna be more consistent, I’m gonna…
Hey, Susan! Did you bring that bag of pretzels again? Can I have some more?
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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