Friday, December 01, 2006


Our school district has a new "health" policy - healthy and nut-free snacks for classrooms, no candy or other junk foods for rewards - basic logical stuff. One day this week I sent a left-over cupcake in Gemma's lunch, figuring she'd love a little treat. That night, the cupcake came home untouched in the lunch box.

Me: "Gemma, you didn't eat your cupcake?"

Gemma: "No, because the prinicpal was in the lunch room and she looked at me funny, because I didn't have a healthy food in my lunch."

Me: "Did you ask the prinicipal if the cupcake was ok or did you just assume it wasn't because she looked at you?"

Gemma: "No, I didn't ask. She just looked at me."

I reassured her that an "every once in a while" treat of a cupcake in her own lunch was not a violation of the health policy. I put the cupcake back in her lunch for the next day.

That night, the cupcake was still in her lunch box. Repeat the above dialogue, only this time it was the classroom teacher that Gemma perceived was angry about the cupcake.

So I again reassured her that I couldn't imagine the cupcake would be an issue, though I suggested she eat it at home after supper before it got stale - it was getting a bit banged up with its many travels to and from school.

I decided it might be time to give the principal a ring to see what her insights might be. Of course it was just as I had imagined - a cupcake in one's own lunch box is not a problem.

The whole incident was just such a reminder to me that
a) these little kindergarteners are still just babes - and so literal in their interpretations - if a grown-up at school told her that they could only bring healthy foods to the classroom, then it must apply in all situations at school.

b) that we need to work with her on how to check out assumptions, rather than rely on a small tidbit of information, with her so she can avoid assuming something that really isn't there.

I felt badly for her, thinking about her trying to quietly slide her cupcake back into her lunch box to avoid getting in trouble, though the story is terribly cute. The institution of school is such a big and some days overwhelming place for these little ones.

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