Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Class Parties...One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Yes, it's classroom party season again which means I've already got cupcakes in the freezer just waiting to be thawed and frosted Thursday night while I watch the Bravo channel.

It also means that -- unless we're going to be at the class party -- that it's time to remind the little ones not to eat anything except what Mom sent with them.

I only recently found out that, despite the fact I sent home-baked decorated cupcakes for the Halloween party, the Room Moms were offering a Halloween-themed punch that was filled with gummy worms as well as offering other candies to the class.

It sounds like a cute concept--except that gummy worms usually have nut allergy warnings. My daughter can't have them for that reason and she (bless her heart) read the gummy worms package herself and then asked one of the moms for a can of "plain" soda, explaining why.

I understand that plans change and parents want to use their creativity at a class party. The Room Moms in my daughter's class have been very nice to her and accommodating (and I've gone over the whole allergy thing with the "head" RM), but people aren't thinking about it, which means we need to really be on top of this. I'd suggest getting a list of foods they want to serve (if possible) well before each class party and offering to bring the safe alternatives yourself. Most moms will appreciate the help!

My question is: why is there so much food/sweet stuff at school? For example, I'm sending the V-Day cupcakes, but the school is offering small ice cream cups for the entire student body that day. It's a nice idea--a sweet treat from the PTO to the kids. They even sent home a note about this, and asked parents to call so they could offer allergic kids something else.

Well, that's progress, I guess. I did appreciate the note and the shout-out acknowledging that there are food allergies at the school (and judging from the number of EpiPens lining the shelves of the health office, there are quite a few!)

However, with the increase in food allergies, not to mention diabetes and just plain old "health awareness" about too many sweets for kids, I would like to see a lot less food used in celebrations.

Our school has taken steps in that direction--no one is allowed to bring in birthday food or pass food around at Halloween, etc. Frankly, I would be fine with that policy even if we didn't have food allergies in our family. Cavities, anyone?

What does your school do about holiday treats and how do you handle it? I know I'll be volunteering to be a Room Mom next year. How many of you have found yourself crowned with that coveted title? :)


Anonymous said...

I agree with your thoughts. I don't understand why anyone but me should give my child food. I was real particular about what foods I fed my son before I knew he had food allergies (no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, etc.) Now, I'm even more particular after his diagnosed food allergies. I just don't know why they need "snacks" at school, especially in a 2 1/2 hour preschool session. I guess it is for the "social" aspect of eating together.

Lynae said...

I am also frustrated by the amount and type of food in the classrooms. I am the room mom in my son's kindergarten class to help control the craziness and keep the treats safe for him. Luckily his teacher tries to minimize treats, but between all of the holidays and celebrating birthdays once a month, it's just too much in my opinion. That doesn't even include activities that involve food like 'fruit loop necklaces' that I think are just totally unnecessary.

Kelsey said...

I had a really frustrating experience with our preschool Valentine party today. Even after correspondence was sent home SPECIFICALLY requesting that parents NOT send candy in with the Valentines BECAUSE of allergies in the room, AND offering the suggestion of pencils or stickers for people who felt like they must include something other than a card, there was a parent who brought little tiny Valentine baskets full of conversation hearts. Then I had to take them away from my daughter and explain to her why she couldn't have them and also why I wasn't comfortable with her keeping the stickers that were in the basket with the totally unpackaged candy. There were already treats at the party, some of which I provided so I'd know my daughter would be able to eat something. Another mother, well aware of my daughter's allergy, baked cookies without using any peanuts or peanut butter, but was very understanding of our avoidance. I agree that we could probably teach the children to celebrate without having it be an occasion to go into sugar shock. But really, I don't mind the treats as much as I mind someone blatantly ignoring the request that came from the school to keep things candy free.

Anonymous said...

You've hit a nerve with me, Jenny. Our school has so many food-centered events. And when I ask for advance notice so I can decide whether it is safe for my child to participate -- they claim I am a "micro-manager" who doesn't allow my child to participate in fun events. Like ice cream socials, or popcorn night, or gallete de rois -- when the entire class ate almond cake with an almond glaze. If I ever calm down about it enough, I will blog about it.
But I digress. Why do teachers try to force feed food to my child? It makes me so angry!

Lynae said...

Kelsey, my son is only in Kindergarten, but I have learned quickly that no matter how many times notes are given to parents that say not to bring in treats, or not to bring in anything with nuts, someone inevitably does both. Although I do my best to inform all of the parents, I have given up being upset about it because I realize I can't change it. Preschool was tricky, but now that my son is 5, I am more able to trust him and we have a simple rule - no matter what, you can only eat what mom gives you. Anything else must wait until after school so you can show me and we'll decide together.

Jenny said...

Lynae, that's what we did with our daughter as well and it's a rule that she respects to this day.

You're right--no use getting upset, just make sure your child knows what to do.

If it's any consolation, teachers tell me that parents don't read/acknowledge half of the notes that get sent home. Human nature, I guess!