Believe it or not, there used to be a time when young children were allowed to walk to school by themselves. Thank goodness all the parents of the world came to their senses and stopped this highly dangerous activity.
When I say ‘highly dangerous’, I’m not talking about the risk that a child might be snatched while dawdling through the local park. I’m not even talking about the fact the poor kid might be flattened by a semi-trailer. No, there is something far more sinister that lurks in the local community: it’s called the ice cream shop.
It’s not just any ice cream shop either. Just like a kidnapper pretends to be your friend before they club you over the head, this ice cream shop tricks you into thinking that it is good for you, that it is healthier than all the other ice cream sellers. It pretends to be a chemist.
When I was little, a chemist was the place I went to get well. It was the place where things were made better. Whether it was scratches, punches or a brother’s bite to the neck, the chemist was the wonderful giant medicine cabinet that made all those ouchies go away. So it was only natural that when feeling sad, I would stop there on my way to school and scoff a triple choc sundae.
The problem is that whilst vitamins, medicines and Band-Aids do help you feel better, daily ice creams make your teeth rot. But when you are seven-years-old and losing a tooth is a daily occurrence, the last thing you're worried about are cavities.
My poor mum probably thought she was doing me a favour by encouraging me to walk to school. “Go out into the sunshine, get some fresh air,” she’d say. Little did she know that once outside, I’d make a beeline straight for the cavernous chemist, which had poor ventilation and smelt of old hand cream.
I’m sure that if the health experts tracked the obesity epidemic on a chart, they would find a sharp increase in numbers around the time doctors were encouraging families to walk more for their hearts.
Luckily, society has gone into overprotective mode since then, so that children don’t stand a chance at making themselves ill, the way I did. But still, it’s important to know that just because a chemist sells ice cream, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Text © Jessica Rosman 2015