September 27th, 2021


Taps for the Tap?

Lenore Skenazy

By Lenore Skenazy

Published June 28

Taps for the Tap?
Tis the season for reminders to hydrate.

As if nature had never invented a way to keep us from shriveling into human raisins — and not even the plump, juicy ones. Hard, dry, olive-pit-like raisins that insert themselves into your molars and make themselves so at home, no water flosser dares dislodge them.

A teacher once told me that parents had started asking her to remind her students, throughout the day, to sip, sip, sip. "Have I lost it completely in thinking that learning to drink when you're thirsty is one of the key parts of growing up?" she asked me. "While water is obviously important, it doesn't seem to kill kids to be without it for a couple of hours. A shocking number of parents act like it's insulin for their diabetic children. Am I crazy?"

Well, if she is, so am I, because in this issue I see four societal evils converging. (OK, like I said: We might BOTH be crazy. But hear me out.)

Evil No. 1: Bottled water itself. Somehow, we have been sold on the idea that it is better to drink water that has been siphoned into plastic, shipped to a store, and schlepped home (or to school!) — only to end up in a landfill — rather than the stuff that comes out of our taps, effortlessly, without us ever heading out the door — or sucking Fiji dry.

Bottled water is suckerdom embodied, considering that it isn't even as highly regulated as tap water. It can be dirtier. Often, though, it IS tap water! Dasani and Aquafina start out as that, and we BUY them! (On a related note: WHY DIDN'T I START A BOTTLED WATER COMPANY?)

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Evil No. 2: We are convinced that our children need to be "reminded" to do something that they'd do automatically: drink. This is part of a whole culture that assumes that this particular generation is SO VULNERABLE (and DUMB) it cannot survive without all sorts of extra promptings and precautions that never existed before. Precautions that begin with baby kneepads (for crawling) and "movement" classes (as if kids would otherwise just lay there?) and work their way up to a frenzy of worries: Germs! Sun exposure! Drinking whole milk instead of 2%! Every aspect of childhood is a BIG DEAL we are told to worry about, including the (weird) idea that our kids are going to drop dead of dehydration unless someone constantly reminds them: IF YOUR TONGUE IS TURNING BLACK, IT'S TIME TO REHYDRATE.

Evil No 3: The decline of community, as evidenced by distrust of the good ol' drinking fountain. When we give up and say, "To heck with it. I'll just give my kid a Dasani," we are going down a road that gives up on the public and goes private. Think: Gated communities. Think: Parents driving their kids to school instead of trusting the school bus, or lobbying for a crossing guard. Think of a world where it's every family for itself.

Evil No. 4: Waste. Of. Money. As a genius on Twitter the other day wrote, "If you're spending $3 for a bottle of Smartwater, it's not working." I'll drink to that!

Let me just go to my sink.