Our kids go to daycare, and my wife and I both work in education. So perhaps we’re a bit more sensitive than the average individual to the herd mentality and group dynamics that can sprout up in kids of all ages in a common setting. I don’t, however, think we’re smarter than the average person, or more capable of seeing obvious problems associated with otherwise everyday actions.
Our daycare has a pretty strict and pretty clear policy on bringing in food from outside for your kids: you can’t do it. To say nothing of the obvious danger for kids with peanut allergies or similar maladies, having one kid who brings in a hot sub while the rest of the class is having overcooked nuggets and sad, limp green beans is just a recipe for bad news, especially with kids who don’t even have the vocabulary yet to explain why they’re mad that Johnny’s chowing down on a delicious sandwich that probably cost as much as the lunch for the other fourteen students in class combined. So food from outside is disallowed.
This regulation is posted pretty clearly all over the building.
The teacher in my son’s class told me about a parent who, earlier in the week, dropped off her child at 7 AM — while the rest of the class is sitting down for a breakfast of fruit and toasted english muffins — with a McDonald’s bag. Then tried to hurry back out the door.
“Ma’am, he can’t have that in here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, you can take him out and sit with him in the lobby while he eats, if you like, but he can’t have outside food in the classroom.”
“I can’t stay; I have to go to work. This is his breakfast.”
The (severely underpaid) teacher then had to explain to this woman (who is presumably in her thirties and has, also presumably, learned at least a little bit about the way the world works) why they couldn’t allow her son to sit down and eat a McDonald’s breakfast at the same table with the other kids. You don’t have to use your imagination, really. Kids get jealous. Arguments start. Whining breaks out, then outright screaming. Pretty soon, one kid has impaled another against the wall with a lance made of Legos while the other kids are crowning a hash brown Harvest King with a diadem of braided hotcakes. Lord of the Super Size. Preschool pandemonium.
Honestly. It’s really not that hard to get this aspect of your parenting life right. It takes getting up an extra ten minutes early to make sure your kid has something to eat in the morning, or — or! — you can just let the kid have breakfast in class with the rest of the kids. Either solution fits just fine into the accepted social order and — let me put a fine point on this — necessary routine that dealing with a room full of three-year-olds requires.
Or, you can be a to-hell-with-the-rest-of-the-world, me-first and my-kids-only jerko scumbag and send your kid to school with a bagful of grease and gristle. Which will promptly be thrown in the trash.
And then there are the parents who can’t be bothered to send their kids with show-and-tell items from home, so the kids feel left out. Or the ones who can’t do the simple homework assignments like tracing their kids’ hands on a sheet of construction paper so they can make turkeys in class. Or the ones whose kids go to school biting and scratching at the faces of other tiny humans. Or the ones who rant anonymously about other parents on their vicious little blogs.
Okay, this rant is over, because I’m in serious danger of falling into a rage-spiral over the parents at our daycare, To be fair, I actually really like our daycare. Our kids have fun and they actually seem to be learning things. It’s the other parents I can’t stand.
Sartre said it best. Hell is other people.
And their snotty, sticky, smear-finger-paint-on-your-trousers-while-you’re-leaving-for-work kids.