This was my daughter’s first week of T-K. It’s been a period of adjustment for both of us, as we get up early and go to a building where we learn the rules regarding weekly manilla envelopes and why my four year old’s shoulders are considered “inappropriate.” (I could do a whole other blog post on that issue, but I’ll spare you for now.)
On the first day, the parents were sent to the gym, where we sat through a brief “new parent orientation.” During this meeting, It was explained that if we send our children to school with a snack, we should make sure it is a small snack, so they can eat it during recess and still have time to play.
I smirked to myself. Really? A snack? The kids are there from 8:20 to 11:20, which is only three hours. Assuming you feed your child breakfast, a snack really shouldn’t be required.
“Ah,” I reminded myself. “That’s probably for the diabetic kids, or kids who have some kind of metabolism disorders. They’re just trying to be inclusive.”
I put it out of my mind.
On the third day of school, as we got in the car, ready to leave the house, my child said to me. “Mommy, can you please send me to school with a snack?”
We were ready to go. She was already buckled in. I did not want to go get a snack. “Are you still hungry?” I asked. She’d eaten a normal sized breakfast.
“No, but yesterday, I didn’t have a snack and I was the only one. I cried and cried.”
My jaw dropped and I panicked. It was bad enough that on the first day of school I’d sent her in a dress that showed her shoulders, an issue her teacher felt she needed to address at pickup. Now I’d sent her with no snack, and the teacher probably thinks I’m starving my child.
I imagined my poor little girl, surrounded by children whose mothers had their shit together, who sent them with lovingly crafted snacks, beautiful elegant foods, aside hand-written “I love you” notes. I imagined the teacher writing up a judgy note in my daughter’s file: “Mother dresses child in shoulder-baring slut clothes and refuses to feed her.”
I raced inside and got her a little baggie of cheerios — the best I could do on such short notice, and then after I dropped her off, I went to the store and stocked up on a variety of snack items.
But here’s the thing. The more I think abou this, the angrier it makes me. Because, why am I doing this? My daughter is NOT starving. I feed her breakfast. I feed her lunch. The three hours she is at school should not require a snack. But now I’m forced to provide her with one, because EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT. That’s it. That’s the only reason. She’s not hungry. She just doesn’t want to be the lone snackless girl.
This is why kids are fat. There is no reason a kid can’t go three hours without food. Snacking between meals is a bad habit. You only need a snack if it’s a LONG time between meals, or if you skipped a meal and need something to hold you over until the next meal. Kids don’t need to graze all day like goddamn cows. It spoils the appetite for mealtime.
Of course, I’m not a monster. If my child says she’s hungry, and the next meal is a while away, I’ll give her a snack, no problem. I do it all the time. But this whole “everybody has a snack, every day, just because” thing is weirding me me out.
Or maybe I’m just mad because I’ve been made to feel like a shitty mother.