A Minor Heartbreak

…that bfateirhtk
just came in the mail:

Dear Free-Range Kids: My father just passed away a few weeks ago.  He had a little lollipop tree in his house, that each child who visited got to pick from.  It was my children’s favorite.
After he passed, my daughter took 15 lollipops from the tree to give to her pre-k class.
She wasn’t allowed to give them out and tell them about her Pop Pop.  They are now a choking hazard for 4-5 year olds. — A Reader

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111 Responses to A Minor Heartbreak

  1. se7en April 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    That is just the saddest thing I have read in weeks… if they can’t share their grief with their friends then how in the world can they ever learn to express it? I guess bottling it up is the new way to go… I guess the “shrink” industry could do with the financial boost!!! Too sad for words.

  2. Latte Junkie April 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Omg I just want to cry! Your dad sounds like a wonderful man to have lollypop tree!

  3. Terry April 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Your story moves me as it does your other writers! What sort of world are we making if kids cannot share and just be. I am sure you will carry your Dad in your heart and live the joyful way he did. I want a lollipop tree too!

  4. Jenny Islander April 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Lollipops are choking hazards for 4-5 year olds?

    I have never heard of any child of any age ever having choked on a lollipop! It’s like banning forks in school lunchrooms because the little ‘uns might poke their eyes out.

  5. sue April 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    My deepest sympathy on the loss of your father. As Latte Junkie above said, your father was a wonderful man to have had a lollipop tree for his young visitors.

    How sad and awful that your daughter wasn’t allowed to talk about her loss or give her classmates a little reminder of her Pop-Pop.

    As an aside, when I was 2 one of my neighbors gave me a lollipop. It was the first time that I had one and I ended up swallowing the candy part whole and choking on it. My mother rushed me to the doctor, 2 minutes away, who got the lollipop out of my windpipe. Did my mother forbid me from having anymore lollipops because I choked on one? No. I had many lollipops throughout my childhood and never choked on one again.

  6. Paula April 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    What’s worse – not helping a child and her family grieve a personal loss OR not taking the time to supervise children with lollipops? Hmmm……

  7. Amy April 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    My 3-year-old daughter was given a lollipop at the Children’s Hospital a few months ago……..

  8. socalledauthor April 14, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    It’s too bad she couldn’t tell the story even without giving out the lollipops. Was having them in the classroom considered a temptation or something? Everything is now a liability and the real messages of community and humanity are lost under fear of lawsuits…

    Though speaking of “choking hazards,” I’ve gotten reminded again that I’m a “bad mom” this time since I feed my 10 month old baby from my plate, not pre-designed- to- prevent- chocking foods (or purees!) and the “but he’ll choke! How would you feel!” argument has come up a few times. No, he’s never choked. He HAS learned that if he shoves food in too fast without properly gumming it, that he’ll gag and hork it back up like a cat. Even our doctor (who is actually quite wonderful) was surprised that I wasn’t all worried about feeding him bite sized foods instead of those mesh feeders or itty bitty bits (he perfers food he can get his clumsy fat fingers onto.)

  9. Uly April 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Sad as that is, I’d actually prefer that schools not let kids just pass out candy all around.

    The first year my nieces’ school opened (before they made rules about this) Ana was coming home with bags of candy two times a week! A goody bag with every class party. Candy for special, non-party occasions.

    There are sometimes situations when it makes sense to have a blanket rule, and when dealing with fairness and four year olds that’s probably the situation.

  10. Kate April 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    I would not have survived 3 kids under 4 had it not been for Dum Dum suckers while running errands.

  11. Sara April 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Oh for Petes sake that’s ridiculous. I’m sure almost every one of those children has had a lollipop before. That is simply unnecessary. I am sorry for your loss and sorry that your daughter could not share her special memory with her friends

  12. Angela@beggingtheanswer April 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Gah, this raises a number of issues. Choking hazard? Maybe if your kid is younger than 2. By Pre-K lollipops are no more a choking hazard than any other food.

    That being said, as Uly pointed out, sometimes treats at school can get out of hand. Some limits based on amount or frequency of treats might be ok, but there is no indication in this story that this was the case.

  13. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    The concern about not letting kids pass out candy is legitimate, but it seems like this could be handled just by getting permission and then having the teacher be in charge of the distribution. In other words, do it in such a way that doesn’t encourage candy being passed out willy-nilly by kids, but still let it happen.

  14. boyzndogz April 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Let the child share her lollipops and story for goodness sake!!! Use a little common sense, send the lollis home with each child who will then share the beautiful story in their own four year old way. Let the parent at home decide whether or not to let the kid eat treat. So many teaching moments lost here…. once again.

  15. Tara April 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    That’s such a sad story. If the parents pick up the kids (as opposed to busing) could the treat be put in their back pack (with an appropriate CHOKING HAZARD warning label of course). Sigh.

  16. gpo April 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    I do like the story and I don’t think the lolipops are choking hazards. I am tired of so much food/treats being passed out in class though.

    If they do bdays that could be 20-25 times kids get something. Then add in the 3-5 parties a year. We went to school without getting so many treats so let’s cut down on it.

    The child in the story still could have told the class the story and not passed out the suckers. Although talking about the death of a grandparent in a pre-k class is probably not right either.

  17. Uly April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Although talking about the death of a grandparent in a pre-k class is probably not right either.

    Firmly disagree.

    Part of the reason of pre-k (in fact, just about the ONLY reason, despite the fact that they’re making it more and more academic nowadays) is for children to learn social skills and to get used to being in a classroom setting before they need to be in a classroom setting.

    And part of learning social skills is learning to empathize with others – like your classmate who just lost her grandfather.

    Besides, seriously, do you expect that a four year old child would NOT mention in class that a family member died?

  18. Selby April 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Thank you for sharing some of your dad’s memory with us. I’m so sorry for your loss, and sorry that your daughter couldn’t really share her beautiful tribute to her Pop Pop. Is it better we choke on our own tears? Ugh, this makes me so sad…

    We’re having our annual neighborhood Easter Egg hunt at our house in a week….Should I re-brand it as Annual Easter Potential Chokefest and make every parent sign a disclaimer?

  19. Dragonwolf April 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    socalledauthor – My 11-month-old son does the same thing. He’d sooner take a bite of something (and he has enough teeth for it) than allow us to spoon-feed him purees. He’s done the same thing yours has and when he swallows too much without chewing, he gags and coughs it back up.

    gpo – I agree with Uly, talking about death to young children should be encouraged (namely, when one of the children has experienced the death of a loved one). I think it’s important that they know about death, because it’s a part of life, and talking about it can help the children experiencing it, while helping the others to understand it, so they’re less confused when someone they love dies.

    pentamom – I agree. The lolipops (in my opinion) are a part of the story, and therefore, bringing them in and passing them out is sort of a visual aid (not to mention the child is sharing the lolis from her grandfather’s tree, and, in a sense, sharing the tree experience with them).

  20. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Also, the death of a grandparent is probably the least threatening way of kids getting used to the idea of human death. Children that age generally love and miss their grandparents, but are not deeply affected — it seems “normal” to them that “old people die” even if it makes them sad. Especially associating it with something pleasant, like the way Pop Pop passed out candy, is a good, gentle way to place the subject before kids of that age.

  21. Lola April 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    @Uly: I agree. IMHO, the worst facet of helicopter-parenting is attempting to shelter kids from real life in an emotional way. You know, everything from losing a race, to failing an exam, different religious beliefs (what’s so bad about a kid saying grace before eating his lunch at school?), and the all-time favourites: birth and death.
    At my kids’ school, all pre-K classes have a small assembly at the start of the day. They all talk in turns about their news at home, prepare the work of the day, praise the ones who made some achievement (like quitting thumb-sucking, or night-time nappies). Deaths in the family are often discussed, and the routine includes praying for them, as it’s a Catholic school.
    In fact, last year a girl in my 6 yo daughter’s class passed away (leukemia). They were all aware that little Marta was very ill, and they had a meeting at the school’s chapel where they were informed when she died. They all prayed for her and wrote some notes about their feelings which they placed at Our Lady’s feet. Parents were invited to the following mass. It was all very sad, but sweet.
    In the end, the little ones just assumed as a fact of life that people die, and that means that, although we won’t be able to see them with the eyes in our face, we can still keep their presence in our hearts.

  22. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    “If they do bdays that could be 20-25 times kids get something.”

    Wow, 20-25 desserts a YEAR????

    Seriously, if you don’t want your kids to have too many sweets, then on special days when they get something in class, don’t let them have another treat that day, or for a few days after, or whatever you think is appropriate. That’s why clearing it with the teacher and not just letting kids pass out candy “whenever” is good, but I just can’t think that a treat at school even twice a week is going to harm a kid who doesn’t have special food issues, and whose parents are taking responsibility for what he eats the rest of the time.

  23. Lola April 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    As for lollipops, I always thought that the stick was supposed to prevent choking. I understand about not allowing sweets at school, but you can always tell the kids to keep them in their bags until they get home, and leave their parents to manage that as they see fit.

  24. Lihtox April 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    I would vote for letting kids bring treats, but limit quantities (no big bags of candy). A lollipop a week won’t do anyone any harm.

    This story reminded me, in a strange way, of what I often see in older university buildings: lovely balconies and convenient side doors which were marked “Emergency Exit Only” and fitted with alarms. Presumably this is for liability reasons; and surely insurance and frivolous lawsuits deserve a large portion of the blame for our fear-mongering society.

  25. Uly April 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Seriously, if you don’t want your kids to have too many sweets, then on special days when they get something in class, don’t let them have another treat that day, or for a few days after, or whatever you think is appropriate

    Hah. If, Ana’s kindergarten year, we’d made an attempt to seriously and reasonably ration out the treats so that she wouldn’t have too much junk to food ratio on “special” days in school, we’d still be going through the candy she got that year!

    She got more junk (and that’s not counting the cupcakes!) that year than we usually pick up on Halloween.

    (But, funnily enough, only juice at parties, never soda like we had growing up. Weird.)

    Now, I know one kid handing out a single lollipop to each classmate is nowhere near the same as the piles of bags of candy (and cupcakes!) that were the weekly fare here that year. And if the kids had been doing THAT all year I probably would have rolled my eyes but largely ignored it.

    Unfortunately, we’re talking about an age group (four year olds) that can be really stuck on fairness. I can appreciate it if the teacher doesn’t want to have to explain to every student why SHE gets to hand out candy but THEY don’t… at least without saying “Well, when your grandpa dies you can too!”

    If that’s the reason. If it’s really “OMG CHOKING HAZARD!” and that’s it, well, that is annoying… but I’m wondering if maybe they use that as a “legitimate” excuse to ban all candy because it’s just annoying when it’s a semi-weekly event. (Biweekly? Which one means twice a week?)

  26. Cheryl W April 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Good gosh – all the kids that should have choked in the car after the parents went through the bank drive through and got lollipops!

    Let me add another silly “recommendation.” Balloons. Apparently balloons are only suitable if you are over….wait for it…age 8. (Although, as a kid, we were probably MORE dangerous after age 8 because we would suck the little broken parts into our mouth and make tiny balloons from them.)

  27. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Uly, that’s possible. However, if a school is in a constant state of sweets free-for-all, that seems like something to be addressed directly. The person I quoted seemed concerned at 20-25 cupcakes or whatever a year, and them maybe doubling that (what? if we allowed every kid whose grandpa died to bring in candy?) That just didn’t seem to be that big a deal to me.

    If the school is permitting the passing out of so much candy that a sensible parent can’t regulate how much they get without building up a year to year deficit, 😉 that should be addressed at the root issue. But it’s one the one kid with the grandpa’s marginal lollipops that are the problem, then.

    “Unfortunately, we’re talking about an age group (four year olds) that can be really stuck on fairness. I can appreciate it if the teacher doesn’t want to have to explain to every student why SHE gets to hand out candy but THEY don’t… at least without saying “Well, when your grandpa dies you can too!”

    I’m not blowing off this concern, but it seems to me this is a great opportunity to teach that real fair treatment of people does not precisely equate to a four year old’s notion of everybody getting the exactly same thing all the time. It doesn’t have to be a big deal — if a child asks this question, the response can be as simple as, “This was a very special situation. I decided that we would allow Ophelia to share her grandpa’s candy this time.” End of discussion — another thing four year olds can learn by example is that they can expect to have their questions appropriately answered, but not necessarily for as long as they want to pursue them.

  28. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    “But it’s NOT the one kid with the grandpa’s marginal lollipops that are the problem, then.”

  29. Uly April 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    While I agree with that in principle, Pentamom, I still think it’s reasonable to allow the teacher (or the school on the teacher’s advice – I’m not sure what’s going on behind the scenes here, obviously!) to not deal with that at all this time.

    Or, to put it another way – if the post had been that the teacher had bent the rules for this special circumstance, I would’ve been okay with that. That makes good sense. However, if the teacher decides NOT to bend the rules because it’s a potential hassle, given the nature of four year olds, I’m okay with that too.

    Of course, by now we’re starting to drift a lot. I have no idea what the actual reason for this rule is (could be choking hazard, which strikes me as silly, or that could just be the justification that they think parents will accept) and how much leeway the teacher really has.

  30. Paula April 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    The more I read here, the more I realize that communication was important here. The parent should maybe have discussed the idea with the teacher ahead of time. As a former teacher, I remember what it was like to be surprised with something that I wasn’t sure how to handle in front of the class. Preparation may have been the answer here. Worth remembering.

  31. Tuppence April 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Agree that preschool is about socialization. And that a child can learn empathy by being exposed to mourning. There are some disparaging remarks about children bringing sweets into the classroom. I would argue that not allowing children to do so blocks socialization and empathy, just like not allowing “death talk” does.

    Societies mourn together. Mourning together in a group can teach children to give and be comforted by others in times of loss and sadness. As someone said, it teaches empathy. That not only shouldn’t be discouraged, but actively encouraged (as in Lola’s moving description of how they mourned their classmate in her child’s school).

    But societies also — celebrate together. Isn’t it equally important that a child learns to share in the joy, and celebration of, another child? Surely, this also is crucial in instilling empathy. Probably the most basic aspect you can find in any celebration is food. And for children the celebratory food of choice is, almost without exception, sweets. A child’s birthday is his or her day to be the center of attention and for all other children to respect and honor that. Bringing sweets to share with all the other children, all the children partaking of the child’s “gift”, and by the by honoring him/her, is socializing!

    Now I believe a limit, even a very limiting limit can, and should, be placed on the sweets given out. One lollipop per child, for instance. For me, this criteria comes not with a concern for overconsumption of the “wrong” foods, but from a social-economical p.o.v. Allowing it to spiral out into a matter “one up man-ship” certainly spoils things for everyone.

  32. Rachel April 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    socalledauthor, have you heard of baby led solids? it’s a theory that you never give purees and only ever give them food they can feed themselves.

    I didn’t fully do that with my kids, but I recognized pretty early on that they would give up purees themselves (I made my own so it would be thicker and taste like real food) after a couple months and preferred bite size food. Actually, my younger daughter preferred HUGE hunks of food so she could hold them herself and gnaw on them. That totally freaked people out but it allowed her to control how much she was eating so she…didn’t choke. I think the point of baby food is to get kids onto real food as soon as possible.

  33. Miss Substitute Teacher April 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Oh good god – are you serious? I cringe at the way schools are run now as a new teacher. The whole thing is ridiculous. Certain things I understand, but at the same time don’t go so far and make it just ridiculous!

  34. pentamom April 14, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Uly, those are fair points indeed.

    Tuppence — well said.

  35. RobynHeud April 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    I remember being at a playgroup that had snacks for the moms and I was holding a bagel in one hand and my son in the other when he leaned over and bit a big chunk out of my bagel. Everyone was amazed and said “he eats bagels?” to which I replied, I guess he does. Before he was one he had given up baby food in favor of raw carrots, celery and whole apples (peel and all). Kids are a lot better at not choking than we give them credit for (that’s why they come with gag reflexes) and a lot better at handling life’s tough situations as well. But like this site always brings up, if we never expose them to it, how will they ever learn to deal with it?

  36. Beth April 15, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    That is the saddest thing I’ve heard in a while. I’m so sorry for your loss, dear reader.

  37. sue April 15, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    @ Tuppence, your points about mourning and celebrating together were very good.

    In Germany a birthday is considered a child’s special day. He is practically expected to bring something to class, either homemade or store-bought, to share with the class. Most of the kids bring candy or cakes/cupcakes. This year my son brought cookies from the on-base Commissary, which his classmates can’t buy in the German stores. They were a big hit, especially the Oreos. There are no food prohibitions like in American schools; kids can bring any sort of food to school for his birthday. If a classmate doesn’t like the particular treat, he just doesn’t eat it.

    Even preschoolers here celebrate their birthdays by bringing a treat to school. The most popular preschool birthday treats are Gummi Bears and Kinder Surprise eggs. I imagine that Gummi Bears, which are immensely popular here, would be considered a choking hazard and banned in Stateside preschools. Kinder Surprise eggs are banned in the States because of the toys inside being choking hazards.

    If a child brought lollipops to class here and explained that they were from Pop-Pop’s special lollipop tree, the teacher would be fine with that. A German preschool teacher would use the lollipops as an opportunity to teach her class about death and remembering those who died.

  38. Frances April 15, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    I did baby led solids too. My little guy would only eat things that were dry to touch..so he got a lot of cracker sandwiches to take bites out of. But I was careful about round hard things like grapes that can slide into a little windpipe and act as a plug..and that are hard for a vigilant parent to grab. Things you learn working in emerg.

    This is a touching story, and I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of a beloved family member. I bet there’s a lawyer and a liability issue behind the school’s refusal to allow lollipops, I don’t really buy that lollipops are a choking hazard for most kids at age 4-5, but I wonder if the school has a food policy, and how expensive the insurance would be if they didn’t.

    That aside, I prefer that my child not be given sweets at school without some kind of warning (I know what to expect at Hallowe’en, for example, and my daycare celebrates the staffs’ birthdays with cake). Like many parents I set limits on additives and sugar and artificial colours. Mine might be stricter than someone else’s, for my own good reasons, and that is my right. I know I can’t control everything and kids trade food, but that’s different from being it being given out with the teacher’s de facto approval. And where do you draw the line? Whose story gets given the exception?

    I’m not clear whether the telling, without the lollipops, was allowed. It should have been! I agree that it isn’t fair to spring something like this on the teacher without asking first (and I don’t know if that was done or not) because at the very least it’s likely to spark discussion that could derail other scheduled activities — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a heads-up to the teacher is respectful.

    Maybe the story of the lollipop tree could have been shared in another way? Photos? The kids could have drawn lollipops to give to the family, or post in remembrance for a few days? I’m sure there are lots of creative ways to share the story and to discuss loss, which I also agree is an important part of life that kids can’t be completely sheltered from.

    It’s too bad that this family and their school couldn’t have arrived at a solution. As it is it seems the school’s response only added insult to injury. That’s a shame…and it strikes me that that is the real issue here.

  39. Jenny Islander April 15, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    @sue: Are life-threatening food allergies becoming as prevalent in Germany as they are here? I hear a lot about the increase (in diagnosis? kids surviving to have a diagnosis? or overall occurrence) in food allergies here, but not overseas.

  40. Jen Connelly April 15, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    That is just sad. Couldn’t they have let her talk about her Pop Pop then the teacher hold the suckers until the end of class and pass them out to the parents with a quick explanation that they came from one of the students who suffered a loss and wanted to share something special about her grandfather?

    Who says the kids HAVE to eat the suckers right away. By preschool they should have some self-control. Out of sight, out of mind still works at that age, too. Or let the kid give her speech right at the end of class so the suckers go right to the parents as the kids leave, still fresh with the memory of the story so they can explain to their parents.

  41. Erica April 15, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    Sometimes it is what it is. Schools have rules, stores have rules, other parents have rules that may be different than the ones in your own house. Although we may think it is difficult to understand, that is how it goes. As we try to teach our children to be independent we also have to teach them to respect differences and rules. Death and dying topics can be very private for some folks and have their own way of explaining it to their children. Just because my children have had exposure to death does not mean everyother child has and would understand. If my child came out of preschool chomping on a lollipop and told me they talked about death, i wouldnt have been happy.

  42. Jenn April 15, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    I have to post to let off some steam! I am trying to register my daughter for Sparks with Girl Guides of Canada for the fall. As always, when inquiring about programs for my children (or myself) I go online first. The information I need once I decide it looks like a program we are interested in is: what night? what time? location? Every single organization that I have dealt with from Parks and Rec to Gymnastics to Skiing has all of that information online. Makes me a happy parents as I can quickly and easily find the information I need to make a decision. Girl Guides of Canada does not. So after playing phone tag for the past week with the rep for my area, I finally get her on the phone to get the information I need (only to find out that only one unit *may” have space for the fall!). When I asked why this information wasn’t available online, I was told that “it’s a privacy issue” and “we wouldn’t want the wrong people showing up at meetings and hurting one of our girls”. WHAT??? An organization that is supposed to promote confidence in young girls is afraid of some bogeyman hurting their girls just because the information was online??? I am also a Scouts Leader and we have all this information online and we have never had a problem with it, nor has an other organization my kids have been involved with. Going to tell my daughter now that she’s going to be a Scout instead! I just can’t associate myself or my daughter with an organization that is going too far to `protect’ my daughter.

  43. Maya April 15, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Funny timing….about two weeks ago, this note came home from my kindergartner’s teacher. I actually had it pinned on my bulletin board as a prayer reminder:

    “Dear parents,

    One of our classmates, Mary, lost her grandmother over the weekend. She died at the fine age of 101. Mary talked about her grandmother, in particular that she was a very avid gardener and loved to grow flowers and vegetables. Mary passed out a packet of seeds to each child in the hopes they would be planted this season, in memory of her dear “Nana.”

    I thought this was a very sweet and moving tribute, and I wanted to make you aware that there was a class conversation about the subject of death. It was very positive as we talked about how our memories of loved ones are what keep them alive in our heart.

    I hope you’ll join us in keeping the Smith family in your thoughts as they both mourn and celebrate a long, wonderful life.”

    It is sweet, isn’t it? Nothing to fear. It was flower seeds, but a lollypop and its significance would’ve made no difference. Sometimes we are just so in our own way…

  44. Marie April 15, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    My youngest did purees a very short time, then started demanding solids. Many people thought we were nuts for giving in so soon, but her refusal to eat purees was rather complete.

    I can’t imagine saying a lollipop is a choking hazard for 4-5 year olds. They’re pretty good with treats at that age.

  45. Uly April 15, 2011 at 2:12 am #


    Another toddler was given alcohol in a restaurant.

    Which is bad, sure – but check out the comments. “What sort of mother allows anybody to put anything in her child’s cup ever???” Um, the sort of mother who occasionally goes out to eat? What is she going to do, charge into the kitchen with the child in tow to prep the food herself? Why, because she KNOWS they’re going to try to poison her kid?

  46. sue April 15, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    @ Jenny Islander, I haven’t heard much about severe food allergies in Germany. None of my son’s classmates have them. I think they probably exist but are relatively rare.

    The School Age Center on the base where I work banned all peanut products a couple of years ago. I asked if there was a child there who was allergic to peanuts at the center. The staff person that I talked to said, “No, but it’s a new Army policy in case we get a child with peanut allergies.” So far our School Age Center has not had a child with peanut allergies, but the ban remains in place. It would make more sense to me for each center to ban peanuts if there was a severely allergic child there instead of having a blanket ban for something that may never happen.

  47. Emily April 15, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    A 2-year-old died in the UK in 2009 after choking on a lollipop that came off its stick. It was a very sad story, and there were articles in the press about how the parents thought there should have been more warnings about how the lollies weren’t suitable for under-3’s. I didn’t think warning labels would have been particularly helpful in this instance, but I felt awful for the family.

    I only mention this because someone said earlier that they’d never heard of a child choking on a lolly. I can’t imagine they would be a choking hazard for a 4- or 5-year-old, though.

    It’s a pity the little girl wasn’t able to talk about her grandfather anyway, even without handing out the lollies.

  48. gpo April 15, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Here is my response to the poster that said that 20-25 times getting a treat was fine with her for her kids in school. That is inaddition to the 3-5 parties a year as well. My question is where do you draw your line. I may draw my line a 3 or 4 times a year and you draw your line a 30. What if someone said 60 times a year. Or what if someone said everyday all 180 days. Would that be fine.

    The other thing is what if a couple of kids can’t afford to bring something in on their bday. Everyone will know and they will probably be made fun of at some point.

    My second response is that my kindergarten daughter is allergic to certain foods. So really I don’t want to rely on other people to read labels 25-30 times a year to be sure my daughter doesn’t get violently sick. You know why because I can’t trust everyone to do that correctly. Not with my daughter’s life. And she isn’t the only kid allergic to stuff.

    So let’s just make life simple and sing happy birthday and move on.

    Also you know what it makes me feel good to give my kids treats, but if they are going to get it so much at school then I don’t get to give them to the girls.

  49. Jenn April 15, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    @gpo My province has a new law being introduced in the fall PPM150 which essentially bans the schools serving unhealthy food. Parents can send it whatever they want, but if you send food for the class, it must comply. There are 10 exemption days in the year that the school can use. It’s about balance and presenting to the public an image that the school system also supports healthy eating. I used to work as a dietician and we used to give the rule, “there are 365 days in a year, cheat on no more than 60”. As a teacher, the party thing gets excessive and I now have four a year (Hallowe’en, Christmas, Valentine, Year End) and assign parents a holiday so that there is less food going to waste.

    Also, my daughter has a life threatening allergy. We sent to the school a box of Krispie treats (the ones with smarties in them or some other lovely crap that is a treat) so that if there was ever treats offered (from another classmate or the teacher), it would be a safe food and no one had to worry about reading labels. Problem solved and my daughter has never complained that she has a different treat.

  50. Shelley April 15, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    My daughter’s middle school has about 80 kids in each grade. Two of her 8th-grade classmates have lost their fathers in this school year. The other children don’t have any idea what to say, in part because they’ve been so protected from grief and loss and tragedy. I lost a dear friend to cancer earlier this year, and I have made an effort to talk about her frequently to my girls (who adored her). I don’t want them to feel the awkwardness that I feel in the face of someone else’s loss. Thanks for posting this sad anecdote.

  51. Sherri April 15, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    That is such a sad story. I mean…. heartbreaking. I know how important it was for my daughter to share about my Dad when he passed away. She is 15 and, to this day, if someone makes a comment about the cheesey 1980’s sweatshirt she’s wearing (his) or balks at a story about him smoking cigars (unhealthy – obviously, right?) or doesn’t want to hear a story or see a picture or whatever, it breaks her heart. I agree with some of the comments above – couldn’t the school have allowed her story – passed them out – and spoken to parents at the close of class (I mean, it’s Pre-K – presumably those kids were being picked up anyway)??

    Also, I see a lot of comments in defense of the ban on all non-healthy foods in schools issue. I am actually in the process of trying to vehemently change our school’s terrible lunch program right now, so I lean towards such measures. However, I think banning anything – even party food and the occasional cupcake or lolly – deprives kids of their choices – takes away any decision-making for the parents. Guidelines with some exceptions is more the way to go. I mean, I think red meat is poison. Does everyone agree with me? No – I didn’t think so – though I can provide plenty of evidence to suggest that it is bad for you. Similarly, I can show all sorts of support for why cocoa in a cupcake is considered by many to be a “health food” (well – minus the sugar :-). I have a son who suffers from low iron and is not a high fat food eater. Obesity is not our issue; diverse nutrition is…… Just sayin’…

    Anyway – so sorry for the loss, and so sorry that your little one had another sad moment while trying to remember her grandfather. Senseless – really.

  52. eden April 15, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    I am a mother of 4 and happy to finally be an auntie. Recently I crocheted a hat for my niece. But the real surprise was a big fat bright blue lolly pop I hid inside the hat. She was thrilled! I love the fact that your father had a lolly pop tree for the children. What a special treat when they went to visit and wonderful way to remember a Papa. Such a shame the “school” missed the whole point. The children missed out on what may have been more than just a treat, a lesson in recognizing the simple joys of life and a man who was kind enough to share these.

  53. Maureen April 15, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    My heart goes out to this little girl and her family. I can’t believe that she wasn’t allowed to express her grief. And that’s what it was – an expression of grief. Death is a part of life, and to deny that little girl time to celebrate her grandfather’s life is criminal.

    Here’s some options for those of you that can’t possibly let your little snowflake have the occasional lollipop or cupcake: 1, homeschool 2. tell the teacher at the start of the school year that they aren’t allowed sweets or 3. let them eat the cupcake and send them outside to play after school.

  54. Library Diva April 15, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    OP’s story was sweet and it’s sad that her daughter didn’t get to share it. I agree that it’s wrong to insulate little kids from death. You just can’t do it forever.

    I remember several years ago, on a movie message board I used to be part of, an irate father came there complaining about the film “Bridge to Terabithia.” He thought it would be a nice fantasy film to take his 6-year-old daugher to, and was outraged that it had the death at the end and that he had to tell her about it before he was ready to. I posted back to him that when I was his daughter’s age, I learned about death through losing my grandpa, and that he should be glad he had the chance to explain it through a movie, and not at a time when he was dealing with emotions of his own.

  55. The Nonconformist Mom April 15, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    I think it is so sweet that your children have such a sweet memory of your father. They will always remember that lollipop tree. Isn’t something that schools want to teach every politically correct fad of the day, but when it comes to talking about real life issues, like death, then it becomes inappropriate for children? There’s no better way to teach children to empathize with others and learn to give condolences than to let them be exposed to the loss of others and let those who have lost be able to share.

  56. amberhj April 15, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    this is so sad. my grandfather is 93 and has been giving out lollipops for many decades now. if i was in this person’s shoes and a chance to sweetly pay tribute was dismissed like this, i’d be furious. actually i am furious. this is wrong on several levels. rules and laws are increasingly replacing common sense and judgement. of course we don’t want our kids eating junk but this was special, this was meaningful, and a lollipop now and then is part of childhood. simple joys.

  57. Donna April 15, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Really, 4 parties – out of 180 days of school – is excessive? Birthdays are to celebrate — frequently with cupcakes. If you don’t want your child to eat a cupcake to celebrate a classmate’s birthday, by all means, tell the teacher on the first day of school that your child is not to get treats and bring carrots for your kid’s birthday. Problem solved. Everyone gets to celebrate in their own fashion and your kid doesn’t get treats. Or maybe we could focus on solving the real causes of obesity and not knee-jerk reactions to 30 cupcakes.

    I am not ignorant of health issues. I have a real issue with schools and activities giving out candy or other treats as a reward. Celebrations of life, death and holidays are cool but my kid doesn’t need a piece of candy every time she brings in her homework on time. And don’t get me started on the crap they put in school lunches.

    But back on topic: The little girl should have been allowed to bring in the lollipops and talk about her Pop Pop. It would have taken about 5 minutes out of the day so would not have derailed the education process. The lollipop could have been put away until for home. It could have then been up to the parents as to whether it was consumed or not.

    Death is a natural part of life. I think these types of things are great to have in schools. It gives parents the opportunity to discuss things that they otherwise wouldn’t do until it effects them personally – a much harder discussion.

    A couple weeks ago we had 2 police officers shot in our town, one killed and one seriously injured. A few days later my daughter and I talked about funerals after she saw the swarms of police cars/motorcycles in town for the funeral. I probably never would have thought to bring up funerals with my daughter until we had to attend one had this not happened. And I also found out in that conversation that my daughter’s pre-k class talked about it and made pictures for the cop in the hospital (my daughter refuses to tell me about her school day).

  58. Get Kids Outside April 15, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    That is so sad. I am sorry for the readers loss.

  59. bmj2k April 15, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    OK, the lolipops are banned to save lives, got it. But what kind of lives are they preparing the kids for?

  60. Laura April 15, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    It is not about sugar. It is not about choking. It is about giving voice to our children when they are grieving loss. It is about allowing them to share a sweet memory, that they will always treasure with their classmate. When will we attend to relationships even if it means relaxing the rules a little once in awhile?

  61. elisabeth April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Seriously, i choked up reading this one. Who have we become that in these moments — when a kid in the school brings something that we’ve now all decided is hazardous without any real evidence because it will allow her to share a story of her love and admiration for her grandfather — we can’t stop and think of a healthy compromise, e.g. “ok, she can tell about her poppop and then we’ll check with each parent at pick up time to see if it’s okay if the lollipop goes home,” but instead the rules and the worry and the rigidity guide us more than our compassion for a 4 year old?? ARRRRGH…I am so so sad for this little girl who now probably wonders “was my poppop a bad person for giving out lollipops to children?” And, wait, aren’t lollipops LESS of a choking hazard than a lot of things? they have a STICK on the end, for goodness sake, that you can grab onto if it goes down the wrong pipe. Seriously, my kids choked more on orange slices than anything else when they were little. Better ban oranges!

  62. SKL April 15, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    What my kids’ preschool does is, if someone gives the kids candy, it goes into the cubbies unopened. The parents can then deal with it as they see fit.

    I do think people give wee kids too much candy, but I’m learning to accept it as a fact of life, especially as my kids get bigger. I still think it’s wrong to decide that someone else’s 24-lb, neurologically-challenged tot ought to have several teaspoons of sugar at a pop.

    On the topic of death, of course that’s an appropriate topic for a little girl to share with her peers. I probably wouldn’t want the teacher to set up a unit on “death of loved ones,” but from a child’s perspective, it would be healthy.

  63. Talia April 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Wow, That is about the stupidest thing i’ve ever seen! My son has been eating suckers since he was 3 and NEVER has he choked. He is now six, healthy and happy. Why don’t we just wrap our kids up in bubblewrap, glue them to our backs, and never let them out of our site until they’re 18.

  64. pw April 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    When my second daughter was seven she had her heart set of some highly desirable digital watch that did everything and was hot property among the 7-8 masters of the universe. It did everything, and in the circumstance of her mother and I being recently separated was a point of commonality, something for a seven year old to grasp. She saved every cent she could graft and even some from mum and dad. Unfortunately the claim of water proof was really only water resistance. To this day, fifteen years later, I get a lump in my throat at her realisation of the sort of disappointment we all sadly must learn to suffer at some stage. She was so hurt by the betrayal.
    This is not a minor heart break in the life of five year old. It is a fundamental experience of betrayal by people whom she had hitherto had no reason to to be wary of. She was sharing the love and joy of her grandfather, one of the most important people in anyone’s life, and trying in her young way to come to terms with a complete distressing intangible. Something to share and seek the help of trusted others.
    Where do we go from here? We truly have lost the plot.
    I feel her hurt.

  65. Jules April 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    That’s insane. My dentist gives out sugar-free pops to all the good little patients, including my 3-year-old daughter. Come to think of it, she’s been given pops by them even earlier than that, for waiting while her older brothers got their teeth cleaned. Maybe since 18 months or so. But school-age kids are going to choke?

  66. sue April 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    @ Jules, My former doctor used to give out lollipops to his young patients, starting at about age 2. He had a jar of red lollipops in his office. When my son was 4 and had to have his vaccinations, the doctor did a great thing. First he handed my son a lollipop, then sprayed a local anesthetic on his arm. By the time the anesthetic took effect (about 15 seconds), my son was so busy eating his lollipop that he didn’t pay any attention to what the doctor was doing or to the needle. If an experienced doctor wasn’t worried about a kid choking on a lollipop, then I shouldn’t be worried either.

  67. Paula April 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    @sue: I also live in Germany and, like you, know very few people who have allergy issues.

    More on this subject: I read recently that the U.S. has more problems because the food that cause “allergies” are genetically altered, contain pesticides or are processed with chemicals. The “allergy” is not from the food, but from the processing and these problems are increasing. So if the problem food, say peanuts, is banned, then the cause of this problem is never addressed and those responsible go on their merry way making money and making us sick. How about that for a more important issue to worry about than if a child receives a sugary treat at school?

  68. momfog April 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm #


  69. brenna April 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    OMG, give me a break. This story is so sad. P.S. if a four year old is not able to eat a lollypop with out choking maybe they need to see a doctor. My son has been doing it since he was two. Please don’t call CPS on me.

  70. Mom's Journal April 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    That’s ridiculous! We went trick or treating with five children who all recently turned three. They all ate Dum-Dums suckers. Not one choking like incident.

    I’m so sorry for the loss and the fact that she couldn’t even share how special her Pop Pop is to her.

  71. Tuppence April 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    @Paula — please, it’s enough to deal with debunking the sugar-as-all-encompassing-evil myth with the Americans. Don’t start with the German boogeyman — genetically altered food. To rephrase Tolstoy: Every nation is ridiculous in its own way.

  72. Paula April 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    @Tuppence: I don’t think sugar is in and of itself evil, nor do I think Germany or any other country is immune to problems associated with GMOs. I also think we can fight ridiculousness on an international level rather than simply saying each country has its own tics and leaving it at that. We have to be open to dealing with problems without going overboard (i.e. parental/teacher/child choice instead of outright lollipop bans).

    Being open means listening to and evaluating evidence, then making our own decisions without taking that right away from others. Here’s some evidence re: industrial food production problems (mainly in the U.S., but coming soon to your favorite European countries too):
    The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick – And What We Can Do About It
    by Robyn O’Brien (and she has a great TED talk, for those who are interested).

    Okay, I promise not to digress further. And for the record: Sugar – yes, real sugar, and in moderate amounts. Lollipops – no, but only because I don’t like them.

  73. Leonard Ewy April 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Dear Reader, I am sorry for your loss, however rather than lament that your daughter was prevented from sharing her grief, her lollipops, and her wonderful story, you should have confronted the school and the ridiculous rule makers directly and demanded an explanation and sought a change in the rules. As much as I enjoy the Free-Range Kids blog I get exasperated with those who merely complain and don’t take action.

  74. gpo April 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    @Donna Like I said I draw the line at one place and you draw it at another place. You say 30 cupcakes are OK. Well why don’t we just have cupcakes 60 times a year or 120 or heck give the kids a cupcake everyday just for showing up all 180.

    The less you get a treat the more special it becomes.

  75. Jules April 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    @Sue: That is such a clever little trick!

  76. Me April 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Our preschool and kindergarten class did what SKL’s above’s did. If someone brought candy to class (sometimes a treatbag, sometimes just a piece) it would be put in their cubbie for the child to take home. I am not sure how their school does it now, it doesn’t seem to come up. Which means one of two things, either they just eat it there and nobody cares or very few people bring candy (which, really, is possible….it’s a small, pretty crunchy school).

    With allergies at ALL the schools we were well aware of the allergies in the class, who had them and what they were.

    But with how crowded a lot of classrooms are now, I can definitely understand a teacher, especially an early ed teacher, not wanting to have to add to what they are already dealing with.

  77. su N April 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm #


  78. Lollipoplover April 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    My daughter is the one who brought in the lollipops. The school was enforcing new state regulations or “the list” of what is now deemed a choking hazard (add it to the grapes, popcorn, etc.)to small children.

    I have tears in my eyes reading through the comments above. Thank you for sharing your stories. My daughter will be just fine. We now proudly display the lollipop tree in our hallway, and she gets to offer one to any child that visits OUR house, which she does a lot (heavy kid traffic). No worries, her friends from school can just get one at the house, instead. Our regulations are less rigid here.

    She has a favorite picture of Pop PoP next tothe tree (a really cool one of him waterskiing on one foot and holding the rope to the boat on the other!). There are even some cards left around the tree, in memory. My favorite from my son says “Pop Pop, When we came to visit you, the lollypops always tasted the best.”

    Children can teach us a lot about mourning if we listened to them. They like to share memories, especially happy ones. My father was a true individual, who led an extraordinary life. He truly believed that “if you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” (~Katherine Hepburn). I would add- and if you keep making rules trying to prevent every accident, you miss all the fun.
    Now if only some adults could get a grasp of this.

  79. Jacqui Blanchard April 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    I must admit, I’ve taken aback by this story. There seems to be two angles to it: dealing with grief, and dealing with sweets.

    The treats issue pales in comparison in my mind. As a parent, I take responsibility for the sweets as much as I can. The school does allow more sugar treats than I’d like but I’m not going to go pounding my fists about it. There are so many other issues and challenges to deal with at school that I don’t worry about that one. Too much generosity is a good problem to have. When my now 7 year old son entered JK, a note when home asking that no food treats be sent and his teacher was very strict about that rule. We sent non-edibles on special days instead. The other JK class didn’t have the same limitations and the kids soon learned that that’s just the way it is. His teacher did, and still does, hand out lollipops for special achievements in school and, as it was limited to only about once or twice a month, it was no big deal in my mind, even those times when it seemed like once a week. The sucker went on a piece of paper, indicating why it was given, and then it was left up to us to give it him. If the teacher allows the kids to eat it in school, that’s beyond my control, but in our experience, the treats are given out at the end of the day and sent home and maybe that’s the simple solution. Ask the teacher to send stuff like that home. We’re luckier than some, I guess, because my son has ADHD so very quickly forgets about the candy if we tell him he can have it later, after dinner for example. We put a basket in the kitchen where all those special treats that come home from school are deposited. That way we can acknowledge the reason it was given, be thankful for it and then I manage that basket. I have to say, it saves me a lot of money on stocking stuffers, Halloween treats and Easter egg hunts. 😉

    The grief issue is more concerning to me. Telling a child to bottle up their feelings just seems wrong. We’re dealing with a car accident and dead goldfish is our house this week and it’s been very traumatic. It’s affecting my son at home, school and in social situations. If the teacher ignored that I think it would be doing a disservice to everyone. We’re very fortunate to have a teacher that understands the complex nature of kids and their emotions. Again, I think there’s a simple solution: communication – between home and school, teacher and child and the kids and their peers. My son’s teacher thanked me for the information and can help him and his classmates deal with it when it comes it. It would be silly to think that such huge emotional issues as death aren’t going to come up. Whether it be during play or drawing, story time or recess, kids are going to talk. Wouldn’t it be nice if the teacher was in the loop and could pro-actively try to help the kids work through these things? I think so!

  80. North of 49 April 16, 2011 at 12:42 am #


  81. pentamom April 16, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    Jacqui, I don’t think there’s enough going on in this story to suggest that the child was being told to “bottle up her grief.” She just wasn’t allowed to do the special little lollipop ritual/presentation thing she wanted to do. That’s unfortunate and seems to be a poor choice on the teacher’s part, but I don’t think we can surmise that she’s being told to shut up and not grieve.

  82. Donna April 16, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    @ gpo – You say “I draw the line at one place and you draw it at another place” however you want the school to draw the line where you want it. I have absolutely no issue whatsoever with a parent saying that they don’t want THEIR child to have sweets. Explain to the teacher on the first day of school that you don’t want YOUR child to partake in any sweets brought into the class. Solves the problem completely without infringing on the rights of the other kids in the class to have birthday parties or bring very symbolic lollipops into school when their grandfather dies.

    What I have a problem with is you not wanting your child to have sweets and then trying to ban them for ALL the students in the class. I have a problem with refusing to allow a little girl to send home a very symbolic lollipop with each of her friends because you don’t want your child to have sweets.

  83. tommynomad April 16, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    I think a few posts have alluded to the real problem here: the teachers/preschool are not teaching. As a teacher educator, I strongly question the qualifications of people who let such obvious teaching moments go by. Did they get them from a matchbook? Maybe all teacher and ECE-candidates should be sent to Germany (or Finland) to be trained in order to ensure they actually know what they’re doing.

  84. kendra April 16, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Ugh. So heartbreaking.

    And what lack of logic!!! A lollipop seems to me like one of the least-dangerous foods to choke on. . . HELLO…if it gets lodged, it has a STICK on it–pull that sucker out!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  85. Uly April 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    What I have a problem with is you not wanting your child to have sweets and then trying to ban them for ALL the students in the class.

    Alternatively, you want your kid to have candy, but want to give it to EVERY child in the class. We had class parties when I was a kid, but we didn’t get candy twice a week as well!

  86. Chad April 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m sure u all remember how we always looked forward to our own birthdays as well as class mates cuz the parents would bring in cup cakes or a cake fo the class to have to celibrate….they took that away from our kidos too…said any snack that is brought in has to be sugar free….the school systems are nothin like the used to be….next they will take pencils and pens away from them cuz they will see them as weapons and erasers as a choking hazard…..where will it ever stop?

  87. Donna April 16, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    “Alternatively, you want your kid to have candy, but want to give it to EVERY child in the class. We had class parties when I was a kid, but we didn’t get candy twice a week as well!”

    Actually, no. I don’t personally ever bring candy into the classroom. I do bring cupcakes on my child’s birthday once a year but don’t give out candy. However, if my child gets candy, I have no problem with it. Even daily candy is NOT what is making children obese. I seem to recall that daily dessert was common as a child and we didn’t have the obesity problem. I work hard at making my child have healthy meals so that a daily treat doesn’t throw her over the edge of obesity.

  88. Uly April 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Common with whom? I didn’t get dessert every day as a kid. Candy and cakes were special.

    This has nothing to do with obesity (yes, the population is “more obese” nowadays… but the definition of “obesity” has changed!) and everything to do with “it’s kinda silly for people to give kids treats all the time in class”.

  89. Donna April 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Nor do I think that candy should be brought into the classroom as a regular thing. Again, this situation was NOT a regular thing. It was one little girl who wanted to give her friends very special lollipops from a very special lollipop tree and share a story about her Pop Pop. She was NOT advocating bringing candy in every day nor would allowing her to do it need to open the flood gates for every parent to bring candy in every day to hand out to all the children.

    I think this is the main cause of zero tolerance rules. People refuse to make decisions and judgment calls. We seem to have lost the ability as a society to understand that it’s okay to say “yes” to special occasion candy and “no” to random candy brought into the class.

  90. Uly April 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Yes, Donna, but by now people are talking in a general sense about candy and cupcakes in the classroom, and why this rule may have been made. I mean, you brought up birthday parties in one of your own comments.

  91. SKL April 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    As far as obesity goes, we need to remember that all kids are different, and on the exact same diet / exercise program, one child could be skinny and another child fat. And also, obesity isn’t the only reason some parents frown at candy. It exacerbates behavior and other issues in some skinny kids. In my house, I cringe more at my skinny kid having candy, because she just doesn’t tolerate it well – though with gradual exposure, she’s getting better.

    This is just something parents need to have control over when the kids are very young.

    However, passing out a sucker that stays wrapped until the parents decide is not a problem – especially when it’s a “one-time thing” like the above. As much as I hate having to be the person who always says “no” to my kid, I will gladly suck it up when it’s important to make a hurting child or a birthday child feel better. As for birthday cupcakes, I’m all for them now and then, but I would like to be informed if my young child has had one, so I can adjust what she eats the rest of the day, if necessary. But that’s not on the classmates’ parents.

  92. Donna April 17, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Actually, Uly, the rule was about choking and had nothing to do with sugar in the classroom at all. The writer said that twice.

    That said, I’m opposed to ALL zero tolerance rules. People need to use their brains and make judgment calls based on the situation. Somehow we managed to not have zero tolerance rules when we were children and, as you pointed out, didn’t have candy every day. As I’ve said in this thread repeatedly, I have no problem with a “let’s not regularly bring candy into the classroom” rule. There is no reason for kids to have candy in school every day. However, I absolutely do not support a rule of “never bring candy or sweets into the classroom.” There are special occasions when candy and sweets are acceptable for most, and if they are never acceptable to you, you need to make the adjustments by saying no, not the entire class.

  93. Donna April 17, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    Uly, candy and cakes may have been special but I recall having dessert as part of hot lunch at school every day when I was a kid. It wasn’t usually anything particularly exciting but it was there. Ice cream was available every friday. The ice cream truck came by our house every day in the summer and it was pretty standard for everyone in the neighborhood to get one. As a matter of fact, candy wasn’t all that unusual. When I was a small child, we lived right by a penny candy store that let kids open their own tab – parents would pay it off when they came in. That was an almost daily stop. Once we moved from there, I still probably bought some candy with my allowance every weekend.

  94. pentamom April 17, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    Yes, Donna, I’m with you — a fancy dessert was a rare treat, but a cookie, a small bit of ice cream, or a piece of candy was something that happened multiple times a week, if not daily.

    Anyway, you said “common” I think — not necessarily that everyone did it that way.

    And the real point about frequency is the one you make — sure, every day might be excessive, especially in a culture where we’re more concerned about sweets and stuff than our parents mostly were, but the zero tolerance, “if we let this child do this every kid is going to get a pound of sugar every day and die” attitude is what’s ridiculous.

    Plus this: “I work hard at making my child have healthy meals so that a daily treat doesn’t throw her over the edge of obesity.”

    Anyone who thinks that an occasional (even frequent) treat at school is going to ruin a child’s health is either not taking responsibility for the child’s diet the rest of the time, or has an irrational fear of treat food. That’s not to say that people are wrong to have a concern over it, or want to limit it, but the “ohmyheavens she got a lollipop at school she’s going to lose her teeth and get diabetes” attitude is either lazy or irrational.

  95. Dolly April 18, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    I personally would not want a teacher or another child introducing my child to death. That is my job as a parent to handle that talk. I would not say that they should prevent that little girl from talking about her grandfather’s death, but I also don’t need the teacher leading a lesson on it or making a huge deal out of it.

    My children will deal with death when I introduce it to them when it comes up. They are extremely attached to their grandmother and the last thing I need is them freaking out worrying that if Susie’s grandfather died is my grandmother going to die?

    No need to worry them till it actually happens. They have been introduced to it in subtle ways but I disagree with others who said it is the school’s job to talk about death. Its my job.

  96. SKL April 18, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Dolly, but this was a pre-K classroom, and I would be shocked if most of the kids in the class didn’t know what death was, at least in the technical sense. I agree the teacher should not “teach a unit on it,” but it is quite natural for the children to hear a classmate mention a relative who died. My kids at 3 came home from preschool and told me that so-and-so’s grandfather died and he told them about it. It is part of life. (My kids understood death in a general sense before they went to preschool.)

    At 4, my kids became aware that I too am mortal, that someday I will die. They aren’t happy about that, but at the same time, they don’t lie awake worrying about it. (They do look out for my health a bit more, LOL.) I think knowing that your child will someday lose her grandparents might make her value the relationship more. To me, 4 seems the perfect age for this realization to hit.

  97. April April 18, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I disagree SKL. Because for one reason I worried about MY parents dying a lot when I was a child. True, I was a child with high levels of anxiety, but I still worried about it. I actually would lie awake at night worrying about it even after my parents tried to talk to me about it. So I don’t want my kids to have to go through the same thing.

    I cannot shelter them from death. But I can introduce it slowly in a way I see fitting. I can also try to prolong their innocence about death until it really hits us hard when someone they are close to dies. My grandfather passed away recently and they knew him but were not close to him. I did not really go into it with them since I don’t think they would particularly even notice he was gone and they did not attend the funeral for multiple reasons. There was no need to upset them over a death that would not really impact them.

    I feel that in this case a death of a grandparent of a school mate is the same thing. It does not impact my kids so no reason to go super into it and upset them. If the classmate talks to them about it in passing, that is fine. But I don’t need a big production about it or them saying all grandparents die blah blah blah because it is just not neccessary at this point.

    They watch Bambi and UP and other movies that deal subtley with death and I think that has given them enough right now to know about it. I have also talked to them a bit about when someone dies they go away forever and its sad. But I have not told them everyone dies or that people die around certain ages or sometimes children die etc, because they do not need to know that because as of right now, it does not impact them.

    I would not have protested the handing out of the lollipops or the little girl talking about her grandfather a bit. Just keep it brief and simple and not go into depth about it. For one thing, religion will have something to do with the death discussion and that is not something that needs to be talked about in school.

    I mainly wanted to point out that it is OUR jobs as parents to handle these kinds of things when WE deem neccessary. I do fight for and demand my parental rights on things like this.

  98. SKL April 18, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    April, we can agree to disagree on the intentional introduction of death to preschoolers. Many believe it’s best to introduce it gradually with deaths that are not as traumatic as a close loved one, in the belief that the death of a loved one may not hit so hard. But, that is just an opinion, and a parent would know best if that approach was best for a child.

    Really, the only reason I commented on your comment was that you said you would not want another child introducing your child to death. Besides disagreeing with your reason, I think that we don’t really have control over that decision. Kids are going to talk about what is on their minds. So if your child reaches the age where they have free conversations with other kids, and they haven’t heard that grandparents / pets / etc. die, be prepared for them to hear it from their friends.

  99. Dolly April 18, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    SKL: I guess we misunderstood each other. I don’t mind another child talking to my children about death. Kids are going to talk no matter what. I was more talking about the teacher talking about it if there were questions after the little girl talked about her grandfather which there most likely would be. It just opens up a door to things that is not teacher’s jobs to teach my kids.

    I am very big on school just teaching my kids the academics and I can handle teaching them about life and morals and proper behavior.

    When kids hear things from other kids, I want them to come to me to talk about it, not the teacher, you know?

  100. Amy - Parenting Gone Mad April 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Was the school really worried about safety or were they just protecting themselves from a potential lawsuit? An unfortunate reality?

  101. Jacqui Blanchard April 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Does anyone else see what I see here? We’re arguing about sweets and appropriateness of introducing the concept of death to kids, when the point is that there’s a little girl grieving the loss of her grandfather. If ever there was an exception to a bunch of well-intentioned ruled, this should be it. Instead, we want to argue about the details. We adults make things so difficult sometimes. Sad. The kids in this story and all of our lives could probably teach us a lot about empathy and tolerance.

  102. Debbie April 20, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    @Jacqui Blanchard –

    I was going to say the same thing. Everyone is arguing about the “whys” and here is this little girl shattered that she has lost her grandfather and that she can’t share a little bit of him with her friends. As a child…this would have been devestating to me. As a parent – I would be enraged. Some rules…are meant to be broken.

  103. kherbert April 20, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    @Jacqui Blanchard and your assuming that talking about this wouldn’t be bad for another student. You and the mom in this story don’t know about the other students. Maybe someone has a parent with terminal cancer, or who died last year. I’ve taught 10 years and it is a rare year that I don’t have someone who has lost a parent or had a parent who was seriously ill.

    Your post made me realize what about this article put my teeth on edge. The very selfish mother tried to take over the teacher’s class, put her daughter front and center, built it up so now it is a trauma that the girl didn’t get to do it – and did this all without so much as a by your leave to the teacher.

    Had she had the COMMON decency to call the teacher say my daughter has lost her grandfather and would like to do a show and tell about him. The teacher could have let her know it it was possible and the best way to do it.

    How would you like it if I came to your work said NO you can’t do what you planned you are going to do what I planned? For some added entertainment I’m going to emotionally upset a few of your coworkers.

    The Mom in this story was a special snowflake and hurt her daughter by being a selfish twit.

  104. Donna April 20, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    @kherbert – And your assuming that this was the mother’s idea. It could very well have been the child’s own idea. My daughter of the same age might very well have come up with that idea herself.

    And frankly we’re talking about 5 minutes out of a day in prek. My day gets derailed for 5 minutes regularly. I had a million things to do today. Mid-morning I got a call from another local attorney asking for a favor. I stopped and helped her out for 5 minutes because it was a nice thing to do. I suppose I could have decided that sticking to my plans for the day was more important then her client’s trial occurring at that moment.

    And you are also ignoring one thing. The teacher didn’t say this couldn’t happen because the kids would get upset or it would interrupt her day. Somewhat valid excuses. It was denied because lollipops are a choking hazard per school policy. That’s ridiculous regardless of the facts that lead to the offer of lollipops.

  105. Jacqui Blanchard April 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Maybe, just maybe, if we all tried as hard to find ways to make situations like these work, instead of defending all the reasons they can’t, our kids would learn better life skills and our society would be better off.

  106. Ellipsis April 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Wow just wow… I remember getting them all the time in school and the people making these rules most likely did as well. We never died. Im glad that I let my kids have all the sweets that they want to whenever. They never beg they always ask and they HARDLY ask. they go days without anything. Make it an issue and the kids will demand it. make it not a big deal and Meh who wants it LOL

  107. Heather April 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    Didn’t read all the posts so I don’t know if this is a repeat.
    Wouldn’t lollypops be safer for little kids since thier throats are smaller. Shouldn’t they be banned for older people since our throats are bigger and can fit the lollypop? I also have never heard of anyone ( child or adult) choking on a lollypop.

  108. pentamom April 25, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    “Your post made me realize what about this article put my teeth on edge. The very selfish mother tried to take over the teacher’s class, put her daughter front and center, built it up so now it is a trauma that the girl didn’t get to do it – and did this all without so much as a by your leave to the teacher.”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but how did you get all of that out of what she wrote? It sounds like her daughter wanted to do something, and wasn’t allowed, and she finds it unfortunate. There’s nothing in the note to indicate that it was her mom’s idea, that anyone tried to “take over the teachers’ class,” that anyone “built it up,” or did anything “without so much as a by your leave from the teacher” — in fact, the whole point of the mom’s note was that permission wasn’t allowed, so they didn’t do it, not that they went ahead and did anything without permission. And there was nothing about “trauma” mentioned, either.

  109. Rue June 8, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Wow. I am a child myself and I remember when I was five that lollipops were encouraged. That story is just sad. Good job people!!!! You have deprived children from dum-dums!!!


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