Divided by Food

Yesterday when I went to pick up my daughter from Kindergarten she had chocolate around her lips.  When I asked her what she had eaten she told me it was a chocolate rice treat that was given during snack time.  I was a bit perplexed and asked her if it was for a birthday party.  She told me no.  I saw the list of snacks (to be provided by parents) and I did not remember seeing rice crispy treats on the list.

Needless to say, I wrote an email to her teacher later that evening.  I inquired about the snack and why it was given to the students.  I really felt like the annoying parent, especially when she replied that it was a rice cake.  So, a parent was asked to bring in rice cakes and they decided to bring in the chocolate version?

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand parents who insist on bringing extra sugar into the schools.  When I was a Kindergarten teacher I was always annoyed when parents brought in those huge, frosting loaded cupcakes for their child’s birthday.  Not only did I have to deal with the mess, but I had to deal with the sugar-high students that blossomed shortly afterwards.  It is most upsetting because the other parents of the other children have no say at that point.  At least at a birthday party they can regulate sugar consumption.  Save the cupcakes for the parties!!

You know what?  I don’t care if I am the annoying parent who gets ostracized from the rest of the group.  I wasn’t meant to be a room mom anyway.  I am not trying to say that I am a very strict parent and don’t let my children eat sweets… I just like to be the one to regulate it!  It is great if they learn healthy habits at home, but then it is reversed when they go to school.  That just leaves them confused and more prone to peer pressure.  And who needs peer pressure that revolves around food?  We have enough issues with peer pressure in other areas.  My oldest daughter wonders why her friends drink soda when I won’t let her touch the stuff.

It just makes my job even more difficult.  I enjoy baking at home and I try to teach my children that it is better to know the ingredients that are in your treats and to try alternatives to make them healthier.  I encourage my children to explore tasting new foods like kale, quinoa, almond milk and tofu.  My oldest daughter understands the difference between healthy food and unhealthy food, but will she always make the right choice?  Not when the junk food tastes so good.  I have my own battles with food.  Can you imagine how difficult it is for a kid?

Well, I can tell the teacher not to give my daughter any snacks.  Then my daughter will feel left out and she is quite the emotional child so that probably won’t go over well.   My children will always come first, but it is hard when either decision will affect them negatively.  Sometimes I think I am the only one who feels this way.  I will admit that my children don’t always eat healthy at home, but I sure as heck try to keep them on the right track.


2 thoughts on “Divided by Food

  1. Concerned Mommy says:

    Thank you for writing this! Our son is in kindergarten this year (his first school experience), and we cannot believe the amount of sugar that’s being given out by the teachers, not to mention the mentality that seems to accompany any food being given, whether from the teachers or from parents for a birthday party, of asking forgiveness after the fact rather than asking permission before loading up our kids with junk.

    During the first week of school, I showed up outside the classroom to pick up my son, to find bright blue coloring all over his lips and tongue. He told me that his teacher had given him a sucker, and the teacher, who was standing nearby, then said in a kind-of whiny, apologetic voice, “Oh, yeah, I gave them suckers. Is that okay?” My reply to her was that it’s okay with me if it’s just every once in a while, but that I wouldn’t want it to be every day or even every few days. She looked crestfallen, to be frank, but said okay. Later at home, our son told us that his teacher gives out Skittles to the students multiple times per day as an incentive to be quiet/ good/ whatever. My husband and I were really irritated about this, especially since I had specifically had a conversation about snacks with his teacher just a couple of days before school started, in which I told her that we’re vegetarian and also eat mostly organic, so I wanted my son eating the snacks I sent with him, and not the ones provided by the school/ other parents unless they were organic, which you can rest assured they’re not…

    The teachers were also routinely giving out popsicles on the playground on hot days, and my dear little 5-year old actually declined to have one the first time it happened, and then after talking some more about it at home, he has continued to choose not to eat those.

    Anyway, after some deliberation, I decided that the best way to approach the candy issue with his teacher was not to engage in a conversation about whether she should be giving out so much candy, or even to state that I don’t want my son eating the candy. I came up with a solution before I spoke to her, and then I just casually mentioned to her the next morning, “Oh, by the way, Son and I decided that whenever you give the class candy, if it’s wrapped, he may take it and put it in his bag to bring home, but if it’s unwrapped, could you please just make a little tally mark on a piece of paper instead of giving him candy, and then I can put stickers on his chart at home for however many tally marks he gets,” explaining that when the chart gets filled with stickers, he gets some kind of reward, like a small toy. His teacher has been very accommodating in this respect, and my son doesn’t seem to have any hang-ups about not eating candy in class.

    On the other hand, the “lead” room parent (I’m actually one of the room parents as well) has taken it upon herself to plan the parties, etc., without consulting the other room parents, and when I recently sent her a very kind email offering a suggestion about trying to get the cookies/ cupcakes for the party from either a local bakery that uses *natural* ingredients or from the Whole Foods bakery, citing my desire to avoid part.-hydrogenated fats, high-fruc. corn syrup, etc, I got a very snarky reply back from her saying that she didn’t think the other parents would really mind if their kids had a regular cupcake or cookie. So then I offered to bring the cookies/ cupcakes, so I can get somewhat healthier ones than what would be bought at WalMart (we’re not allowed to bring homemade treats). I don’t want to have to do this every time, as it will clearly get expensive, but I feel it’s worth it to avoid the issue this time, and to make it clear to the bully of a room mother that some parents actually DO care about what their kids eat. AAARRGH.

    • Thank you very much for your response! I totally understand what you are going through and I know it is hard to have to speak out about it to the teacher and other parents. Most of the time they just look at you like you are crazy. I have been trying to keep in mind that everyone was raised differently. I totally grew up on meat & potatoes and cheap sugary snacks from Wal-Mart. For some reason I broke away from that mold, but not everyone does. It is especially hard for parents who can’t afford to buy food from Whole Foods or other Natural Food stores. Of course we know that there are ways around that, but preaching to other parents won’t help our situation. All I ask now is that I have the right to say no when it comes to my child without making my child feel left out. It would be nice if they didn’t have to be put in that situation, but there will always be teachers and parents who reward with sugar. I like your idea about the stickers at home for non-food rewards. I think the best thing we can do is be positive role models for our kids so that they will feel confident about saying no. We will only be able to regulate the sugar intake for so long. Eventually they will be around peers who smoke, drink, do drugs and eat crappy food.

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