25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
Teacher, teacher, Pedro is eating sand,” This kind of accusation was common from children at school who discovered that a boy was eating sand. And this happened with children who were as young as three years and as old as ten. It is not that they had no understanding of the very unhygienic practice, but they had a craving and they did exactly that.
At home, moms used to fight with this problem too. They kept a keen eye on the child and asked the older sister or brother to caution everyone whenever they noticed the young one eating his delicious sand.
To discourage this practice, some parents used to rub pepper on the children’s hands so that they would not want to carry them to their mouths. But at times they rubbed it on their eyes, poor guys.
Others used to rub the hot peppers on their mouths as a punishment for eating sand. Some parents used to lock up the children in a wooden box so that they would not have contact with sand. Others used to raise the box in the air if the children were persistent and rumors were there that the smart sand eaters used to hide the sand in their ears, armpits or even butts, so that when raised, they would resort to eating their appetizing sand.
In a school of some 75 students back in the 1950’s, I would say that some ten of them delighted in this strange practice. How could these children eat sand? I do not know about you all, but occasionally if I were to accidentally chew a piece of sand, I get the goose bumps.
It is an awful feeling, yet how could these children insist in this apparently delightful activity. A doctor has explained to me that it is a deficiency of calcium in our diet that causes this reaction. Apparently it was the lack of milk and eggs that caused this calcium deficiency.
Most children were brought up with breast milk and when the change was made it was made to condensed milk instead of fresh milk or the powdered formula.
Errrr… my little hairs are standing up just at the thought of chewing on sand, and if there is anything that I don’t miss from 25 years ago, it is this crazy craving of eating sand.