Let the Kids Eat Cake

My parents always took the teacher’s side. I grew up attending public schools in the Chicagoland area and I can count on two fingers the number of times (out of hundreds of opportunities) that my Mom and Dad thought a teacher had gone too far.  Today, by contrast, teachers routinely face obnoxious, know-it-all parents who refuse to believe that their children could be a problem in the classroom.

But teachers, principals and school administrators are not infallible. And on those occasions when they do overreach in their roles as temporary caretakers of our children, they deserve to be put in their place.

From Goodhousekeeping.com:

In Australia, a mom sent her three-year-old to kindergarten with a slice of chocolate cake in the lunch bag. Unfortunately, a slice of this kind falls within the school’s “Red Food Category,” which encompasses unhealthy foods “that may contain excess energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt.” The list also includes sodas and deep-fried foods and is part of a full set of nutrition guidelines that all schools follow Down Under.

The article continues:

A friend of the officially-warned mother, Melinda Tankard Reist, who is also an author and advocate for women and girls, took to Facebook to back up her pal. Her post clearly hit a nerve, with more than 600 comments to date.

An Australian mom sends a piece of cake with her daughter as part of that day’s school lunch. The school responds by scolding the mom for violating nutritional guidelines The mom’s friend posts about it on Facebook. And now we’re discussing it because major media outlets around the world have taken up the cause of cake-loving children everywhere.

Perhaps social media can have a positive impact on the world!

According to the family friend of this mom and her daughter, the mother in question is a healthy person who has given birth to (and raised) eight healthy children. I come from a family of six siblings, but you do not have to hail from a large family to know that any woman who can put up with that many kids is a saint and should be granted a “Get out of ‘condescending notes from teachers’ jail free” card for life. Unless there had been repeated examples of this mother abusing or neglecting her children, everyone should just back off.

One of the two times that my own mother called a teacher back to tell her that she should mind her own business was when I brought a meatball hoagie to school for that day’s “fruit snack”—a mid-morning treat designed to keep second graders from getting crabby before lunchtime. Due to my ancient Viking/Nordic blood, I was the tallest kid in my class and already looked like a fifth grader. I was fit and active for my age, and that morning two of my younger siblings had been puking their brains out and my mom did not have time to stop at the store to pick up whatever pretentious fruit my second grade teacher tended to favor in her own grocery cart. On my way out the door that morning, my Mom said, “Eat half of your meatball sandwich for Fruit Snack if you are hungry and the rest at lunch.”  When I came home that afternoon with a note from my teacher about my lack of a fruit snack, my Mom told my single, eco-friendly, 25-year-old teacher in no uncertain terms to keep her opinions to herself.

As Abby W. Schachter has noted in her book, No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting, the rapid rise in unelected “experts” telling parents how they should raise, feed and educate their children is alarming. There is a balance to be struck between social engineering and anarchy, but in modern America we’re much closer to the former than the latter. This is why we ought to be vigilant about the encroaching busybodies who, as my wife and I learned last year in the months leading up to the birth of our first child, are only too happy to give unsought advice with the certainty and demeanor of a Soviet-era commissar.

I, for one, am glad that Melinda Tankard Reist posted something on Facebook about this Great Chocolate Cake Caper. Just like we need to teach our kids respect for governing authorities such as teachers and police officers, we also need to point out silly infringements of personal freedoms and laugh heartily at them so that our kids learn how to navigate an increasingly confusing society.

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  • richard40

    It seems like the schools are off on both ends. On one side you have kids flunking every test, who totally disrupt the class, even get into physical fights with teachers and students, and brandish weapons, and nothing seems to happen to them. Then on the other hand you have busybody supposed nutrition experts dictating every single thing you have to feed your kid, or your kid draws some picture or writes something that is not PC, and all of the sudden they are calling CPS on you.

    • Dad_All_Day

      I’ve got an idea. What if those eager teachers turned their attention to the kids who seem to need it? I know–crazy talk–right?

      • richard40

        But then they have to give up on being leftie propagandisats and busybodies, and actually teach kids.

  • Thomas Carter

    I can understand both sides. Is the slice of cake the right thing to send to school with your child? Maybe, maybe not. if I read the article correctly the child is only 3 years old . just 3 years old. pre school maybe kindergarten. This mom a very experienced mom sent her child with a slice of cake. only a slice, not the whole darn cake, just a slice. Maybe, just maybe mom was celebrating her child. because who doesnt love cake. even a 3 yr old will feel rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically. And any experienced parent will know this. It’s all about the child. right? And this mom had other children, maybe these children would have been saddened by cake but over joyed with fruit. Congrats to this mom knowing her children.

    Teachers go to the university to get degrees to teach all the philosophers and pedagogies to teach and raise children. A young teacher wanting the best for their classrooms buy into this parochial cloistered way of thinking. The young teacher looking for tenure has to deal with the school administrators and sounds like the government as well.

    An experienced teacher/parent would know the battles to fight what’s really important and what’s not as important. An experienced teacher/parent would know to ask the child pinpoint questions. In a motherese voice ask open-ended question. ” oh I see no fruit today I bet mom didn’t get a chance to go shopping ” The child will respond and they can respond and ask other questions from there.

    Perhaps the answer is teachers need to be parents first. Or all young teachers are mentored by teachers with years of experience.

    To the young teacher, experience is the best teacher. You obviously care for your students but one slice of cake won’t harm the child as would not knowing the entire reason for the cake. How the mum reacted , the discussions at home. The child being sent home with a disciplinary note. This child, this mom will remember years from now, not why you made them feel today, but how you made them feel.

    To the mum. Good for you for standing up for your child. This child with this single act will know you got their back