Jun 07, 2023

For back to school, hydration is next to education

One of the kids in our family will be heading back to school carrying a water bottle that reminds him to drink. “Hydrate” is how they refer to it these days, although in all the years of my childhood I never once heard an adult use that word.

Back then, if a kid was thirsty, she would raise her hand and ask the teacher for permission to walk into the hall and drink from the fountain. The teacher would size up the kid and decide if she was truly in need of water or simply looking for an excuse to take a walk. Chances of slurping from the fountain were 50/50, depending on the student’s discipline record and the teacher’s mood. Hydration wasn’t part of the equation.

Because we are now a country where mad men run loose in school hallways, a kid no longer can roam the halls, and COVID-19 has shut down the fountains, I’m told.

But, never fear, a whole industry has grown up around hydrating children locked for protection in their classrooms. Enter the water bottle.

As an experiment, I opened my Amazon account, clicked the “back to school” heading and searched for “kid’s water bottle.” Pages of options appeared, everything from Disney Princesses to bottles with “unique inspirational quotes and time markers that always remind you when you should be drinking water.”

Yes, that’s the one. It’s inscribed with times the kid should drink and nagging reminders, including: “remember your goal,” “don’t give up” and “almost there.”

I kid you not.

If a kid is capable of drinking without inspiration, he or she might prefer SpiderMan or some other superhero available on several different bottles. Or perhaps the child wants a bottle that changes colors or glows in the dark, or one with with cats, unicorns, mermaids or personalized with a name.

Or the creative child and parent might prefer buying a clear water bottle and ordering a $7.99 pack of 200 waterproof vinyl stickers to decorate the bottle and (probably) dozens of other household items.

Then there is the collapsible silicone water bottle that is anti-vibration and explosion-proof so “you don’t have to worry it will be broken or scratched.”

Think about that for a minute.

As I fell deeper and deeper into amazement over water bottle varieties, I turned to Target to see what else I might find. A search of “water bottle for school” brought me 690 results. (Not to be outdone, Walmart claims more than 1,000 choices.) I could then narrow the selection by filtering. Did I want BPS-free, break-resistant, condensation proof, double wall construction or a drink-thru lid?

How about a drinking spout, flip top lid, insulated, leakproof, locking lids, odor-resistant, silicone grip, soft spout, spill proof or stain-resistant? And finally did I want a twist-off cap, twist-off lid, vacuum seal lid, vacuum-insulated or water filter?

I’m dizzy with the choices.

Keep in mind that this is just a bottle for water. The hungry kid also will require a trendy bag in which to carry lunch. Never fear. Walmart has more than 1,000 varieties of those, too.

For those who want to wrap it up quickly, Amazon offers the Travel-Friendly lunch bag, water bottle and ice pack. It’s an insulated bag and water bottle with straw, all for the low, low price of $48.99.

Yup, the $50 lunch bag. Makes one yearn for the days of brown paper sacks and water fountains.

NANCY ESHELMAN: [email protected]

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