Okay, so I know we’re not supposed to be all judge-y about each other’s parenting and what-not.

I get that this is a sinkhole that leads to no good.  (As if there were any sinkholes that DO lead to good.  Sorry, bad analogy.)  Judge another parent’s decision on what clothes their kid wears and the next thing you know you’re calling shenanigans on the whole package: extracurricular activities, nutrition, education, hair styles…heck, it’s all up for grabs once the dam breaks.

Except the thing is that sometimes I do need to call shenanigans, if only for my own peace of mind.  I fully understand that you may not agree with me, as I’m sure there are parenting decisions we’ve made in our family that you may disagree with just as strenuously.

All the same, though, I’m gonna go ahead and throw down on one of my parenting pet peeves. (Gee, that almost seems like it should have its own special font, a theme song intro, or maybe caps and color.  Parenting Pet Peeves.  Ta-da!!)

I absolutely have to start with kids drinking coffee.  For real, I had no idea this was even a thing, it was that inconceivable to me.  I know I’m somewhat of a caffeine-warden with T-man and Bear, but I kind of figured it was generally accepted that an ingredient that revs your kid up into Speedy Gonzalez was a bad idea.

This kids & coffee thing first came to light when I learned a friend’s preschool-aged children were drinking a special blend with their grandma, a drink comprised mostly of milk, a lot of sugar, and a “splash” of coffee.  I forget what they called it; I blacked out a little when my friend was talking. There I was, forbidding any kind of soda and limiting food items containing caffeine, while these kids were enjoying grandma’s “good to the last drop” morning brews.  It blew my mind.

I have to admit that I thought this was an anomaly.  I mean, surely I wasn’t in the minority when it came to my opinion on pumping kids full of a caffeinated coffee bean fix.  So I tucked this away in the gee, it takes all kinds column and went on my merry way.

Fast forward about five years.  I was volunteering at our school’s Fall Festival concessions stand.  We were outside that year and it was extraordinarily cold, which was not very helpful since I wasn’t feeling well and had gone through most of my tissues in the first 30 minutes.

Anyway, I was manning the Keurig station (an incredibly popular item that night) and had the art of working three machines with one other person down to a tee.  Regardless, the lines stretched farther and farther back as the night went on and parents were desperate for warmth, a caffeine fix, or both. I was clicking right along — take K-Cup, start coffee, tear payment ticket, put lid on cup, deliver deliciousness — when I pulled up short.  The next person in line holding out a Caramel Vanilla Cream K-Cup was little, probably a third grader, and waiting patiently for his turn.

Ummmm…what?

I actually stopped, looked him up and down, and asked “Are you getting this for your mom or dad?” He said that the coffee was for him, which only puzzled me further.  This can’t be…you mean…wait, what?  You want to get a cup?  Of coffee?  For yourself?  It simply would not compute.

So then I asked what I thought any responsible adult would ask — did his parents know he was buying the coffee — and he looked at me like I’d grown a second head as he said yeah.  I was still flummoxed, but the line was crazy long and I was super cold and the snot was going to start running down my face again any second so I threw caution to the wind and made the coffee.  But as I handed him the cup I made sure to say, “Now if your parents get mad that you’re drinking this, you didn’t get it from me.”

I know, I know…this was so not the responsible adult thing to say, but he was really freaking me out. I was convinced for a good half hour that some grown-up was going to stride up to the table and rip me a new one for selling coffee to their kid.  But no one did.

As a matter of fact, as the night went on I noticed how many kids were buying coffee, and it was a lot more than I expected.  (Especially seeing as I’d never even considered elementary students as a target demographic.)  There were A LOT of kids drinking their cup-o-joe that night, a fact that still boggles my mind today.  Putting ideological differences aside, I just can’t figure out who would subject themselves to an 8-year-old on a caffeine high…

Mine are bad enough when they’ve had too much birthday cake or Halloween candy.  I’m sure as hell not handing them a drink with 100mg of caffeine in it.  Voluntarily expose myself to little people’s insomnia and hyperactivity?

No thanks.  The kids are challenging enough in their natural state of being.