Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why I Don't Care That We Can't Have Cupcakes at School

*Originally published on Sammiches & Psych Meds


Our school has what some may refer to as insanely strict (while others may call incredibly progressive) food policy for classroom parties. The rules go something like this:

In a nutshell—no, wait, can’t have nuts, Sophia B. is allergic—um, basically: just don’t have it, people. Please. Don’t send cupcakes in on your kid’s birthday, we’ll sing to them and give them a pencil or paper crown instead.

If there is food at the parties it has to meet the stringent health guidelines, sending nutrition labels in to the nurse in advance for approval and whatnot. More teachers are just opting out of food at parties altogether.

Personally, I’m fine with the policy. There are so many food allergies and sensitivities, gluten-free diets, vegetarian/vegan lifestyles, diabetics and plain old picky eaters, why would I want to put myself or anyone else in charge of feeding another person’s child and take the risk of harming or excluding them? It’s been this way for so many years, the kids don’t even think anything is wrong—they’re just so happy to get the chance stop working and actually have fun at school that it never occurs to them (unless a certain parent puts in their head I suppose) that anything is missing.

Additionally, since the parties celebrate holidays, I’m pretty sure the kids are getting enough sweets outside of school around that time. For example, the school Halloween party falls in the month in which my children consume enough sugar, fat and calories to tide them over until Christmas. When they’re 47.

So if they don’t also get junk food in the classroom that day? I think they’re going to be all right.

Apparently I’m the odd man out.

In a school district where mothers post things on our town’s Facebook page like, “WHOLE WHEAT pizza crust at lunch this year? My kids will never eat that. Thanks a lot, NOW I HAVE TO BUY LUNCHABLES,” nutrition doesn’t seem like a really high priority. Michelle Obama is personally blamed (hey, Barack can’t take the heat all the time).

I did have one friend on my side.

She moved.

So now it feels like me versus every other parent in the district so I don’t really speak up about it. Once in awhile I shoot an email to the principal to tell him that not everyone hates the food policy.

The school year is back in full swing so the “our kids deserve junk food at school!” argument is cropping up again. This time, since I know nobody agrees with me, I keep my mouth shut.  These people clearly don’t agree with me on this one.

But a new angle occurred to me recently: Mothers. Fathers. Listen to me. WHY WOULD YOU PURPOSEFULLY PUT ONE MORE THING ON YOUR PLATE? You know what happens when cupcakes are allowed in to school on your kids’ birthday? Yeah, yeah, besides the diabetic vegan kid sulking in the corner while everyone else licks the frosting off their cupcakes and throws the cake part away . . . you know what happens? You somehow survive a weekend of two soccer tournaments, three birthday parties, one exploding pipe in the basement and a cat vomiting all over the house to wake up and remember you didn’t bake any cupcakes for your kid to bring to school. What kind of monster are you anyway?

When there’s junk food allowed at parties that means there are classroom parents having to not only plan the games, stories and activities but then be in charge of reaching out to the other parents to arrange who is going to bring what food, follow up with reminders the week and day before, confirm that the food has no allergens for those particular kindergarteners, have a last minute freak out when a parent spaces regardless of the reminders, get it together last minute to present a beautiful high calorie spread in Mrs. Miller’s classroom only to realize there are absolutely no plastic utensils, plates or napkins.

Now 24 kids get to sulk in the corner with their diabetic vegan friend. Nice job, Ma.

Ask yourself: do you really want more to juggle? If you have one kid or if you have ten kids, you’re busy. You’re keeping track of the important things. You manage to feed them and yourself several times a day, whether it be gourmet cooked from scratch meals or no-whole-wheat-involved lunchables. You do the laundry pay the bills clean the house go to work coach the teams leave the tooth fairy notes read the books help with the homework comfort the sickies carpool vacuum food shop apply bandages email the teacher go to the meetings flush the goldfish break up the fights hug the criers kiss the boo boos make their childhoods magic and all before 9 am.  Why purposefully add more to your to-do list??

Do yourself a favor and realize this:  the school is cutting you a break here. Embrace the no food at parties policy.

You can always still give them that shit at home.

As long as you don’t forget.

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