By Adele Paul of Tuesday Sisters
Seven words to describe my years in grade school? 13 years. 43 kids. No water bottles. Yep. Those were hard times—having to wait until recess to drink from the cesspool of germs that was the communal water fountain, lapping up ice cold water from the end of a lead-filled garden hose, one time even enduring an entire sweltering June afternoon at the school track and field day without even a sip to wet our parched lips. It’s a wonder we lived to tell the tale because, if the next generation is anything to go by, surely we should have all perished without our basic human right to access BPA-free water bottles 24/7.
A few weeks ago, my family decided to go for a hike to celebrate Mother’s Day. I kid you not, ten minutes into our snail’s pace stroll across completely flat terrain on a 15 degree morning, kids 1 and 2 are completely laid out on the boardwalk complaining that they are DYING (their word) of thirst and can’t go on. Having not anticipated this catastrophic turn of events, bad mom that I am, I tell them I haven’t packed any water and to get up and carry on. When they don’t seem to hear me through their anguished cries, I turn and keep walking. Seemingly having miscalculated the imminence of their mortality, in two minutes they are skipping alongside, stuffing my pockets full of dandelions, their dire circumstance long forgotten.
I don’t blame them for their penchant to the dramatic on this topic, and, in this rare instance, I don’t even blame myself. It seems to me this constant obsession with water and drinking runs deep into the fabric of modern society. Does it strike anyone as odd that the generation of children with the most unfettered access to clean drinking water in the history of the world should be so obsessed with obtaining it? This living paradox comes down to two things: parental one-upmanship and commercialism, and it was born something like this…
Circa 2003, Karen was on a fad diet that involved drinking a ridiculous 16 glasses of water per day. She read herself silly on the topic and grew to believe that drinking copious quantities yielded a whole slough of health benefits, information she extrapolated to apply to her daughter, Madison.
Madison couldn’t believe her luck when Mommy brought home a shiny new Teletubbies water bottle which she dutifully drank from for about 3 days until the novelty wore off. This did nothing to stop the epic water bottle tug-of-war between Madison and her friend Emily that transpired while Karen gave Emily’s mom an earful about the increased frequency of Madison’s bowel movements.
Without delay, Emily’s mom purchased a Barney water bottle for Emily and told her friend Carla all about it. Carla, never one to be outdone, purchased one for her son Ethan, and when Ethan came home complaining that he had to leave it in his locker during class time, started a petition demanding that school children be allowed unrestricted access to water at all times during their studies.
Her friend Amy, who was outraged by association, signed it and shared it on Facebook and water bottle/drinking mania was born.
Nalgene got in on the action and, after cleverly low-level poisoning their eager clientele for a number of years, sold a whole new generation of ‘safer’ BPA-free water bottles. Contigo sold their reusable containers, making the claim that they were more environmentally friendly than bottled water. Klean Kanteen’s stainless steel bottles were the answer to plastic’s dubious reputation and Swig’s glass vessels solved the problem of the icky metallic taste—all of them answering a question that nobody even asked when they drank water from glasses they already had in their kitchen cabinets.
Fast forward ten years. S’well’s the word, and my 4-year-old daughter emerges from her preschool ballet class. ‘Mom, Teacher says we HAVE to bring a water bottle. ALL the girls have water bottles.’ The class is 30 minutes long. I endure judgy sidelong glances from a few other dance moms as I reassure her that we will bring one next week. ‘I want a butterfly one, like Maddy’s.’
Sure, kid. I’ll take it out of your college fund.
About the Author
Adele Paul is an editor, freelancer, and Mom of three lively kids. Her hair is slowly turning the same shade of white as the snow in her native Canada. Find her at www.tuesdaysisters.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TuesdaySisterss/