So I read this article just now: Mom Packs Lunch For Baby Girl. Hours Later, She’s Sent Home With Angry Red Note. Basically, this mother from Australia packs a slice of chocolate cake in her daughter’s lunch as a snack, and the daughter gets sent home with a note printed in red with a sad face emoji that reads: “Your child has chocolate slice from the Red Food category today. Please choose healthier options for Kindy.”
I skimmed through the comments section. Basically, people (especially parents) are offended by the school’s nosy and patronizing behaviour and feel that this is a direct insult to their ability to parent. “Just put in a second slice and tell the teacher to leave your daughter alone.” “Don’t tell us how to raise our children!” Why all this rage? I feel that the answer is simple. People are angry because it’s true. It’s a fact that they don’t want to face. Sure, some occasional sugar in controlled doses isn’t going to cause you chronic, serious or fatal health problems. But I don’t see how that’s relevant in this discussion. The truth is our species is terribly disconnected from our mortality or our sense of being mortal. As a result we don’t prioritize our health even though when we know we should. Most of the time we choose to ignore it so we can indulge in the carnal pleasures of sweet, sweet desserts.
Do I sound patronizing yet? Don’t get me wrong, I give in to temptations from time to time. I do my utter best to keep myself accountable when it comes to eating and maintaining a healthy diet. Self-care is on the top of me list because unlike regular mistakes that can be unmade or navigated through, health isn’t something that can be solved by confidence, guidance, peer support or spiritual revolution. The heart of the matter is we are mortal, and we are all going to die someday. And it is highly possible that we die sooner if we don’t take care of ourselves. It is also highly possible that we put ourselves through unnecessary pain and suffering because we haven’t been consistently taking care of our bodies.
Our health is exactly what we put in. It has an expiration date. It can go bad before its due time. What we put into our bodies or not put into our bodies define the trajectory of how our health flourish or deteriorate. Honestly there is no way around that and I feel like as a society we don’t care enough about our health to make more responsible choices.
So getting back to the article. I feel like the school has done nothing wrong, especially when categorizing food is actually part of the school’s policy, so this shouldn’t have been something that the parent didn’t know about. The school is just doing its job of raising awareness about health diet and promoting more responsible choices when it comes to food. The school is just doing its job: it is educating. For once it is teaching something valuable and practical, but the backlash. Oh dear. I cringe.
I understand why parents are upset. “Don’t tell me how to raise my kids.” Of course, an unwanted opinion is perhaps just rude. Nobody should be in your face about anything. But an angry note written in the colour of Satan’s blood is just over-dramatic. I also understand how this can feel patronizing, because somehow agreeing with that note will be somehow equal to admitting that they are irresponsible parents, that, omg, they feed their children chocolate cake for lunch. How terrible! It’s registered as an attack to their sense of self or their sense of being a parent. And a parent is supposed to get everything right for their kids, no? Otherwise, how are they good parents who love their children?
Honestly, this attitude isn’t very helpful. Relax! It is not an epic attack on your parenthood. You’re doing your best, whatever it is you are doing. And the teacher is probably just following the school policy. It’s not like the teacher literally calls the parent in, bashes her and criticizes her for her poor dietary choices, and sends her home with utter shame and feelings of stupidity. It’s a notice that reflects the school’s policy and it’s a notice that is meant to promote healthier eating habits, which, you can’t refute it can you, is a good thing. What’s wrong with eating one less slice of chocolate cake at school? If your children must have some celebratory chocolate cake, then that’s one less slice of artificial flavouring, artery-clogging sugar and chokingly-fattening dairy.
And as for “don’t tell me how to raise my kid.” Isn’t it kind of disturbing to want to capitalize the complete and utter shaping of your children? For me, I don’t see why parents can’t open themselves up to constructive feedback. That’s the most natural thing about being human. We are always growing. We are always in the process of becoming better (or worse, depending on our choices). What’s the harm in growing a little, if it does you good in the short run and the long run?
There, there. Here is a cup of tea, you wounded egos out there. Everything is going to be just fine. And I mean it. It’s okay to hurt or feel offended. That happens when you’re human. Just don’t be offended all the time (like, the 99.9% of the internet these days). Because that just makes you an offensive person. And nobody wants to be that, right?