Saturday, September 6, 2014

Life is not fair, so let's teach our kids to cope.

Last week I attended my 2nd grader's open house. After her teacher laid out the basics: arithmetic, daily schedules and homework expectations, she proceeded to launch into a diatribe about all the things we, as parents, need to do to make everyone in class feel warm and fuzzy all the time.
"First of all, there is someone with a gluten intolerance in the class, I don't want to point him or her out, so please refrain from bringing in any baked goods containing gluten. Furthermore, we have a peanut free child in our grade, so to reduce the chances of cross contamination, please try to limit food containing nuts. And PLEASE don't do cupcakes. Ever. They are just 'too sugary' and some children may have sugar intolerances and we don't want those children to get sick." 
Okay, lemme get this straight: Yes to bringing in class treats for parties, but only if they are peanut free, gluten free and low glycemic. So...celery? Whatever, I can deal and just bring in little toys or something on V's birthday..
"Secondly, our school has decided that if you are going to bring in party favors, they need to be gender neutral and school appropriate. Think pencils or erasers, as toys are not permitted on campus."
 Alright. Pencils it is. I can get behind less crap coming home in backpacks. 
 "And most importantly, I need you all to know that our school has banned birthday invitations from being distributed on campus."
"You see, it simply is not fair for some children to be invited to a party and not others. We see it as a form of bullying, the same as singling a child out. To remedy the situation, we suggest you connect with other parents after school to get them their invitations or discreetly email an evite."
Woah. Put on the breaks, lady. 
You mean to tell me that I gotta track down Natalie M's mom and slip her an invite on the D-low because some child, that my kid isn't even friends with, might feel shitty that she wasn't invited to our party? You're accusing my kid of being a bully if she doesn't please everyone, all the time and it is fundamentally WRONG of me to expect children to develop coping skills to deal with disappointment?
Well, I got news for you. Life is not fair and eventually these kids are going to have to suck it up. In my opinion, it is better for my second grader to build some character NOW and deal with the reality of how the world really works: Not everyone likes you, some people are assholes and IF YOU CAN'T EAT SOMETHING BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU SICK, DON'T FUCKING EAT IT.

I don't want to glaze over the reality that some people are bigger assholes than others, and mentally unstable individuals who shoot up movie theaters exist, but what we're forgetting to acknowledge is that they've always been out there and maybe, instead of sheltering our children to the point of unpreparedness, we should go back to carrying on with our lives the way we used to, because those types of people aren't going away.

So parents, let's let our kids get their hearts broken and experience what its like to be let down every once and while, since that's inevitably what their future holds. Teach them to cope when they can't have something that everyone else is having and our children will gain some willpower. Let's show our kids how to be kind to others in the face of bullying and generate confidence in our kids by guiding them through adversity. I mean, what type of people are we expecting to raise if we eliminate all obstacles?
And for Pete's sake, have some faith that your children "can even."


    Sorry, but there`s NO FRIGGIN` WAY. I mean, if my kid had a peanut or gluten or lactose or complex carb allergy, there`s no way my reaction would be "YOU ALL NEED TO CATER TO HER." I would make sure I educated her and prepared her for that comparatively-mild adversity. Because that`s my job. Teach her that she can`t just walk into a school, or McDonald`s, or grocery store, or Disneyland, or bff`s grandma`s house and think they are going to cater to you personally. Isa`s school does the whole "please make sure your treats are peanut-free" thing - I thought that was bad. Now I know it`s just the beginning.

    Seriously though, I respect you for this post. Thank you.

  2. well your school is actually a little more laid back than where my son attends second grade. we aren't allowed to bring ANYTHING to celebrate birthdays. if we want, we can purchase organic, gluten free, blah blah ice cream from the lunchroom for the entire class. yeah, and the whole birthday invite thing? my son couldn't do that in preschool. the world can fuck itself.