I lost my car keys at my mom and dad's house. How and where, I do not know. My sister, brother-in-law, dad mom and I all searched everywhere to no avail. My mom had to drive the girls and I home after we crashed at her house for 5 days so that we could begin the school week at our house. One glitch. Kalyn, my oldest, needed to get to school for choir and her gifted class. So, mom came to pick us up. We ate at Bread Co (Panara for non-St. Louis folks), mom took Kalyn to school and headed to a doctor apt. Julia and I stayed at the restaurant to do school work. The plan was mom would come back and get us after her appointment, we would pick up Kalyn, and then go to her house with my extra car key so that I could drive my vehicle home.
This explanation was intended to explain why I did not leave when I was so annoyed and I wanted to smack all of the women who were planning the winter party for their kids school. I had no way to leave.
Those of you who know me know that I will, and often do, talk to anyone about anything. I love hearing the opinions of others even if they are so different from my own that it is hard for me to wrap my head around. However, my button gets pushed when others are not also being open. When what they say demeans others and does not take into consideration other's thoughts and feelings I get super steamed up inside. I am happy to admit that my own point of view is more likely than not flawed and there may be information out there that I am not aware of that would inform me. But, it's my point of view, I am comfortable with it and I have gone to great lengths to make it as informed as possible. I like to think others do this as well.
A second thing about me is that I am passionate about treating everyone with respect, dignity and love. Everyone! It is difficult and damn near impossible sometimes, but who am I to judge anyone? SO know that the group of women that I am about to speak about I feel were making their comments out of ignorance and mob mentality (they might not have made the comments in a one-on-one setting). No, I do not think they are horrible people. Yes, I do think they need to be more sensitive and concerned about the kids they will be hosting at their parties.
Monday morning at Bread Co: There is a group of 8 women discussing the upcoming grade school winter party. They start discussing crafts and games. They talk about things that have worked in the past and things that have been a disaster. I am laughing a bit because I have helped at school parties where both of these scenerios have played out.
Then they get to discussing that a particular craft can't be done because it is a "Christmas" craft. They lament over that for a while. Then another ideas comes up and is scrapped for the same reason. Then someone talks about making "reindeer food" (oatmeal, glitter, ect.) and they all agree that it would be fun. Then one women remembers that the reindeer have to do with Santa and that is Christmas and they all sigh. Then the one has the brilliant idea that it could be "animal food" and they could just not specify the animal. They all get excited again and the one mom says she will try to push it through with the principal, but "you know how she is."
People do not practice other faiths to put a crimp into your party plans. Last I checked it is perfectly reasonable to expect there to not be religious overtones at the parties found in public schools. This is why I sent my kids to public schools for the time they were there. For exposure to other religions, cultures and ideas and so that the religious education my children do get is left up to me and the house of worship I choose to attend.
To choose to "push something through" when you know what it really is, and all the kids know what it really is, and if some kids don't the kids they do will be sure to tell them, is upsetting. That is blatantly disregarding a potion of kids. That is not ok in my book. In our area we have Jewish folks, Muslims, people who practice Hindu, atheists, Christians (like us) who don't celebrate Santa Clause, and many other religious beliefs. So, frankly, the reindeer food would piss me off as a parent since we don't believe in Santa because I personally feel it takes away the focus of a high holy holiday in my religion. With all the hype and commercials, etc. I am hard pressed to keep my kids focused on the religious aspect of Christmas. I don't need the schools adding to that insanity.
The next order of business was to come up with snacks. They decided to come up with one snack and then an alternative for kids with food allergies. This is hard. I know, I have been there and have many friends with kid with severe food allergies. So, the conversation, laced with major annoyance, at the food allergy issue was particularly upsetting. It came up that there was a kid in one room allergic to all fresh fruit. They all laughed and said, "yea, right." One woman said, "That kids just doesn't want to eat cucumbers." Another commented that this is how parents make sure the committee buys treats the parent knows their kids will eat. If the kid doesn't like something, the parent just says they are allergic. She has seen this so many times and is getting tired of it.
Again, no one is trying to spoil the fun. We just don't want kids to get sick or die. Let's see, could one be allergic to fresh fruit. Oh yea, now I remember, I have been dealing with this for a year. For almost a full year I could not eat any raw fruits or vegetables, any nuts, and or fresh herbs otherwise my mouth, tongue and throat would swell up. I have an epi-pen I have to carry. Before seeing my naturopath, I was getting 4-6 shots a week with the hopes that in 5 years time, these symptoms would lessen and I would be able to eat some fruits and vegetables that were not cooked. It's called Oral Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome, it's serious, annoying, and can kill you. So can lactose allergies. So can nut allergies. So, please do not be so flip when thinking about allergy issues and the inconvenience it presents to you. Think about the kid that is having to watch his/her friends eat lovely treats and knows if they eat them they could become very ill. That sucks! That is a lot to ask of a grade school kid.
So, now with snacks and crafts decided, they needed to divide up who would buy what. They were talking about a certain item when one mom asked if they could not just get that from the art room. Another replied that no, the art teacher won't let them use any of her supplies. They all scoffed at the idea that she would not share. Did I mention that the one mom explained that she had been given a $500 check for the parties?
I don't know if they have heard, but school budgets have been being cut over the past several years. They might not be aware that arts programs are taking a big hit in this cut so that more time and money can be put toward preparing our children to take standardized tests to justify the money that the school does get (a big reason my kids are now homeschooled). The art teacher not wanting to share supplies with 2-3 classes per 6 grades that are at the school for the 3-4 parties the school has per year is self preservation, not selfishness. If he/she were to give one class supplies, then the supply train would have to be open for everyone. (Spoiler alert: snarky remark coming): I have a strong feeling these same moms would not be happy if there kids came home with crayon drawings on the back of recycled paper as an art project because the art budget was spent on supplies for school parties rather than these women using the school party budget.
So, the planning get together came to a close. Everyone said goodbye and started drifting away from the tables. But, little side conversations of twos happened here and there. Apparently none of these women like each other very much, they didn't feel like their ideas were listened to and they thought everyone else controlled the meeting. It was like being in the halls of my daughter's middle school. What craziness.
I have to say, it took everything in my power not to say something to this group of women. At first I wanted to tell them that I love the idea of a winter party. It includes everyone and leaves no one out. If you live in St. Louis, you experience winter. There are bazillions of great craft and game ideas on line. Save the "Christmas" ones for at home. I put that in quotes because most of the crafts deemed Christmas crafts ultimately bastardize my Christian religious beliefs by buying into the commercial and Santa hub-bub that I try to steer clear of. Plus, it leaves a lot of kids out. Some people will say, well all the kids in my kid's class are Christian. Awesome. But, do they all celebrate it the same way and at the end of the day, public school is secular. Separation of church and state. If I wanted my kid to go to a school with religious orientation, I would send them to one. Not all people feel that way, but I know a lot who do. The other argument is, well there is only one non-Christian in my kids class. Awesome. So, let's have that kid feel left out because it is more important for that class to make reindeer food than to teach the kids that there are lots of ways to believe and we should respect that and there are many ways we can find to celebrate together.
Food allergies, WTF, what do I say. I wanted to scream, "You're right. Fresh fruit allergies are completely made up. There is no way that kid has that allergy. You should force feed him fruit salad just to prove your point and teach that parent who is screwing with your party a lesson. Fruit allergies, what a load of crap!" Why did this conversation take place? Why is sugaring kids up more important than making sure that the safety of all kids is taken care of. Yes, safety. Food allergies are no joke. They can be life threatening. Even if they are not life threatening, why would you be willing to make a kid sick? Again, there are tons of resources out there to direct you on fun, delicious, allergen free treats out there. Use them!
Finally, thank your art teacher for helping your kids with math and science rather than bitching because they do not freely hand over supplies that you have a budget for anyway. It has been shown over and over that kids who are exposed to the arts, in all it's forms, score higher on tests and are better at math and science. It teaches them to think outside the box and be creative in their thinking. Think of any uber successful business mogul in any field, they have not played by the rules. They have pushed limits, thought differently, and colored outside of the lines. Thank the arts! Read some bio material on Steve Jobs if you need more info.
In conclusion. Respect all, love all and give each and every person the dignity they deserve. Don't merely tolerate. Tolerating people is a horrible thing. It's not enough. These women were tolerating the kids that weren't celebrating Christmas in their way, they were tolerating the kids with food allergies and they were tolerating the art teacher not giving up her supplies. They are reluctantly working around these "obstacles" rather than looking at the great things they could be doing that would show love respect and dignity to all those kids. Challenge yourself to do this everyday with every person. It's not easy, I struggle with it all the time, but it's the standard I attempt to hold myself to. Try it. let me know how it goes.
This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.