Yep, I’m “that mom” already

So far, kindergarten seems to be going about how I thought it would. D has reported that he has cried at some point every day except the first day, and twice yesterday. He reports this to me very matter-of-factly, and also wanted to know why he didn’t cry the first day. I explained that his mind was so busy taking everything in and figuring out what to do that he didn’t have room in his emotions to stop and consider what was happening, and now that he is relaxing a little bit into the new routine, he’s more aware of the change and so when there is a natural pause in the day (he reports crying most consistently when they line up to go to his room from extended care in the morning), he’s a little overwhelmed by it and that’s when the tears come, and that’s ok. I tell him how much I miss him too and am thinking of him. He’s made me a couple of special, extremely colorful drawings that his teacher helped him with when he was feeling sad, which is great. I look at them when I feel sad too, and feel less sad.

And of course, I knew it was coming – the very first day he was there, he traded food with a kid and told me that night, in a whisper – which is how he conveys information about something he’s done that he thinks he could get in trouble for – that he tried Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for the first time. I told him I wasn’t mad but that his lunch is packed with a lot of thought about what will specifically be good for him, and what will help his brain work and his body grow, and Cheetos is not one of those foods and that’s why we don’t pack it for lunch, and to please not food share. I know it’s pretty much futile but I have to try. That’s just how I roll in just about everything. The second or third day, he came home with a cute drawing and a Hershey’s kiss was taped to it, which he was all excited to show me. I told him that could be his dessert after dinner that night, then, and as we ate dinner, he looked longingly at it and kept asking if he could have it yet, as he wanted it more than dinner, because that’s how sugar works. After he’d eaten sufficient dinner, I was getting together the fruit I had set aside for his dessert, which he wanted in addition to the kiss, and he quietly said, “Mom, I have something to tell you.” Ok. “Actually I already had another chocolate kiss today, in class.” He told me this because he knew it could affect my decision to give him the other one, and yet he told me anyway. I praised him for his honesty and told him he should never be afraid to tell me anything, even if it might make me mad, and how I saw that he kind of fell on his sword there and told me BEFORE he had the second one, and so his reward was to have the second one and enjoy it, as well as his fruit. He was pretty pleased with how that went and generally, so was I, though I don’t see the need to reward kids with hershey’s kisses. I put it aside until a note came home from the teacher yesterday, which went to all the parents, listing things that she still was seeking in donations to the classroom. I already donated requested aluminum foil and pretzel rods, but was shocked to see basically a  long list of junk. Fruit loops, gummi bears, chocolate chip teddy grahams, marshmallows, chip’s ahoy cookies, etc., etc., etc.  I had to email the teacher.

I don’t want to be “that pain in the ass mom” but I guess I am. I tried to be really, really nice and very respectful. I didn’t assume that all the things she asked for would be eaten, either – I guess some could be used in crafts or something, who knows. I know how hard a job teaching is. I appreciate more than she knows the care and concern she has put in to this year. I praised her decoration and setup of the classroom when I went to orientation. I’ve joined the PTA to help classrooms like hers to be able to deliver a great school experience for all kids. I brought in some requested items. I will volunteer at school events. But I can tell you, the four days my son has been at K so far are all days that he ate like crap at dinner, and I know it’s because he’s getting filled up with food at school. He has breakfast there, which I provide, and a very early lunch. Then an afternoon snack, which she IN PERSON stressed to the parents to please make healthy, and not to send in something like a fruit roll up. And yet she’s giving out fruit loops and chips ahoy cookies? It just doesn’t jive. He also is given a snack in aftercare, like goldfish. Adding to this with yet another snack during the school day, and one like gummi worms or teddy grahams just isn’t necessary. And people wonder why childhood obesity is epidemic? It’s not just a problem, it’s an actual nationwide epidemic, with more kids having diabetes than ever before. How is this a good idea in any way?

A rewards-based system isn’t anathema to me, as I know it’s the trend nowadays. But surely there are other things that can be given. And you know what? If there aren’t, then don’t give any. Other than a gold or silver or blue star on my homework when I was growing up, I wasn’t given jack shit just for going to school, participating and doing what I was told and my kid doesn’t need it either.

I sent her the link to the Lunch Tray’s post about this, which includes a link to a white paper with science backing up how food rewards are not good for kids, as well as a link to her Manifesto. It’s not “just one little treat.” It’s multiple treats, every day, at every turn. Cookie at the grocery. Gatorade and doritos if you run around on a soccer field for 45 minutes. Etc. I know this is not a battle I will win, and that I became “that mom” when I sent the email, but I can’t just sit by and say nothing. It’s her classroom and she can run it how she wants, but teachers are bright, energetic and creative, and I think they  could do better for their students.

I know I’m going to piss off a ton of people with this post. I can’t say I’m sorry, I would just ask you please be respectful with your disagreement.

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7 thoughts on “Yep, I’m “that mom” already

  1. Pingback: A Mom Sends Her Son to Kindergarten and Gets an Education re: Classroom Junk Food - The Lunch Tray

  2. Yup, depending on the school, there is food everywhere. As a parent of a child with food allergies, all that food makes it even more stressful sending them to school. What I can’t figure out is why on earth are these teachers giving kids sugar (other than it’s a cheap reward system, which is not needed)…it’s only going to make their jobs more difficult. You are soooo not alone on this.

  3. Oh my goodness, this was so similar to my experience when my daughter started K. Mine is in grade 2 this year and it’s a constant struggle. So far, I have pissed off a lot parents along the way, trying to “rob kids of their childhood.” But also, I have found some like-minded parents and allies and we have all been relieved to realize we aren’t alone.
    I still hope, with each new year, new teacher, new principal, that it will get better. And the new principal at her school is much more knowledgeable about the issues with food as rewards. For example, he made sure that at the school Easter Egg hunt, there was no food involved. Of course, for my daughter, that meant her class had an additional egg hunt in which each student got about a pound of crappy candy.
    Keep it up; be “that” parent. You know, the one who stands up for what she believes in, even if it makes some waves.

  4. I totally sympathize. It drives me nuts that I have to write notes giving permission for my kids to use cough drops or lip balm at school, yet the school can feed them all manner of crap without asking me first. I have also found that because they are given so many sweets, I cannot enjoy making cookies or anything with my kids because instead of it being fun, I just feel guilty. And it’s not just the school; there have been time when other parents randomly show up at school and give the class cupcakes or cookies or something — for no reason! Or kids will give out treat bags to their classmates for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. And at our school, there are numerous class parties throughout the year…I don’t think an entire week ever passes without the students being given some sort of junk food. I feel that this also makes it very difficult to convince my kids that it’s NOT okay to eat this stuff everyday. I wish you luck!

  5. Oh, youre not alone! I’m “that mom” too. Last year my daughter started school and there were junk food rewards and snacks at every turn. One day, she actully hopped into the car with a bag of skittles for “doing good in PE”. Another, a teacher felt sooo bad I didnt send her with tickets to the school canteen (complete junk food), she bought a (huge) ice cream treat for her. Sigh…
    On good days, I’m a food warrior, but mostly I feel like a crazy, ranting bitch. Welcome to the club! 😉

  6. It’s a constant struggle, and you have to keep fighting the fight. We’re working on getting fresh food in our school cafeteria so we don’t have to pack each day. You’re doing the right thing so hang in there!

  7. I have become that mum too thankfully my childs teacher is getting on board but shes off to big school next year and thats an entire another thing OMG!

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