Part 1 – What to do about the food?
Back during Azita’s “holiday party” at Christmas time I always meant to make a post about the difficulty of every celebration involving food for a mom of a kid with food intolerances. I volunteered to bring the cupcakes, which I thankfully legally can since I have a kitchen certified by the state and sell my products at a local store. Remembering from my own parties at school, I guess I thought it would be some physical activity and one treat or two and maybe a movie, so bringing the cupcakes would pretty well ensure that Azita mostly got the same experiance as the other kids.
I was floored when I got there. The cupcakes were hardly even noticed. Pizza, candy, snacks, junky-type “juice”. It was a buffet of gluten, dairy and artificial flavors. One mom brought oranges, which remained unopened.
Oy, what would have been wrong with some cupcakes and orange slices? It was a junk-foody, decadent party even for adults. Even more frustrating was the fact that the teacher called me at 6 pm the night before to tell me she’d be bringing pizza– so that necessitated a trip to the health food store to get Daiya cheese and to make a crust, right at dinnertime and just before bedtime. Super convenient for us.
True, we could have just not sent pizza for her and let her sit there while everyone ate there hyperactivity-inducing treats, but that’s just not how I roll. I want my kid to relish the fact that she eats in a way that will nourish her body. At this point, while she is 5, I think that includes making sure she doesn’t feel left out. As she ages, I think there will be times that she just don’t have what others have and is okay with that.
Fast forward a few months, and I get a letter home from the school asking to bring eggs filled with non-chocolate candy for the egg hunt at school.
It specifically details store-bought wrapped candy. Yet another school-related activity where we are giving our kids the message that it has to revolve around food. I wasn’t going to send artificial food for anyone’s child, and so I sent eggs with organic Vitamin C drop from yummy earth, and a bag for Azita to trade the candy she gets in her eggs, and she was very cooperative and happy with that plan.
It just strikes me though, the way candy is specifically asked for. There are dozens are spring celebrations that could revolve around activities and art and play, not sugar. There are dozens of spring celebrations that could revolve around spring itself, and not a secular activity tied to a religion not every child shares, but that is for part 2.
What struck me, really, was that I went to a egg hunt for a playgroup I’m a part of. The organizer had suggested stickers and toys be in the eggs as well.
Out of 8 moms or so that brought eggs, I think only two brought candy (and I was one of them, but only because I had all the Vitamin C drops and have had way too much morning sickness for any extra store trips for stickers– though that was my original plan).
The eggs had bracelets, plastic bugs (Ada’s favorite), dinosaurs… and the kids loved it. It *didn’t* revolved around artificial junk in any way shape or form. Why can’t schools be like that?
I know change only happens if someone raises their voice and asks for it, but I’m feeling pretty unlistened to by the public school system at the moment. With the rise of food allergies, these schools need to get on the ball. Seriously.