Hi Readers — Thought you might enjoy this peek at the lunchtime shenanigans at one American school. (Well, perhaps “enjoy” is not quite the right word, but anyway.) A reader writes:
At the beginning of the school year we got a list that forbade nuts and nut products, which is pretty standard these days. My daughter started coming home from school complaining that she was told her apples should have been “without the skin” and that oranges were “dangerous,” because there is a kid in the school who is allergic.
I contacted the school and asked them to explain the policy. They told me that even though there is no “formal” list, they do not encourage skin on fruit because it could be a choking hazard. A few mothers and I ignored them and continued to send the kids to school with the normal fruit, skin on, and not cut up. The lunch mothers make the kids feel bad by constantly telling them that this is not allowed, even though there is no formal rule.
The “no processed lunch meat” is another story altogether. A few of the PTA mothers decided that it was unhealthy, again constantly harassing the kids during lunch by saying so. Again, the school has no formal policy not allowing processed foods ( you should only see what they serve as a school lunch)! This whole effort is spearheaded by a few helicopter PTA moms who have nothing better to do.
This is the same school that outlawed tag and does not allow kids out for recess in below 50F weather. My son attended the same school a few years back and none of these practices were in place. The school and the principal go along with this hovering because this PTA does raise a lot of money for the school.
In my community, as a full-time working mother, I am in the minority. Since I and the few others like me can rarely attend PTA meetings (these are not held in a the hours a working mother can make), we have a very weak voice. Every time we do speak up, we are reminded that while we are out at work, there are mothers who truly care for their children by staying home and being “involved.” They act like good, old-fashioned school-yard bullies.
Honestly, it is not worth the effort to fight with them. I laugh them off and continue to send my daughter to school with whole apples and salami sandwiches. I let her play tag all she wants on our street ( thank God, we live in a small development where almost all parents believe in the Free-Range concept). She is allowed to go out in all kinds of weather and go to her friends’ houses by herself.
She will be out of that school in a year or two… and off to middle-school where my son is now. That school allows apples and salami, but they have taken other things to absurdity. One of these days I will post on the concept of “punishment should fit the crime.” I think that in some of our schools the zero tolerance for violence policy is taken to absurdity, but that is another topic entirely.
Yes it is. Can’t wait! Meanwhile, thanks for this glimpse into the black hole of lunchtime. — Lenore