Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Narrowing the idea of healthy

When kindergarten teachers forget who the Mom is, you get... The Food Police Go to Kindergarten.

Admittedly, some mothers are smarter about nutrition than others. But whatever happened to discreetly working one on one with a mother who is flunking in the food department, and leaving everyone else alone? Isn't diversity supposed to be good?

Besides, has swapping and sharing been abolished? (I suppose it might be. The Food Police seem to like to oversee everything...) I seem to remember that as kids we sometimes helped out kids who didn't have enough. As in, "Oh, look, here's an extra apple in my lunch bag. How did that happen? Do you want it? Otherwise I'll just have to lug it home again..." You know, stuff like that. Teachers used to approve of behavior like that, or, at the least, turn a blind eye to it. Why have they become so fussy and prissy and nosy?

OK. OK. Not all of them have. But it sure seems to be a trend... (And, OK, my fifth grade teacher was a rabid spoilsport on playground patrol. She freaked out easily, and seemed to be obsessed with the idea that a girl might get hurt on her watch - something which must be prevented at all costs, apparently, by the implementing of drastic preventive measures, such as a blanket prohibition of boys playing with girls. We thumbed our noses at that rule. Regularly. With malice aforethought. We despised her, the only teacher I remember despising, but I digress...)

Do you ever get the feeling that somehow most of the people who would have been bothersome old maids making life miserable for their immediate neighbors in eras past, have somehow drifted into positions of authority in our day and age, thereby expanding the reach of their humorless tyranny as far as possible? Sometimes I wonder.

Not that I mean that the kindergarten teachers in this case necessarily fall into that category. I'm just saying that so much of what passes for "liberal" causes these days sure seems like busybody old women who can't get along with anybody and blame it on other people not being as good as they should (by their definitions, of course). To be fair, a lot of Republicans in positions of authority seem to be doing good imitations of snippy old maids, too. Sigh. Does having power do that to people, or do people like that set their sights on those positions? Am I asking a chicken or the egg question here? Oh, never mind. I'm not sure I'm up to this sort of discussion today.

On a side note, this talk about food and school makes me think of the Japanese book Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window (available in English translation). Totto-chan's headmaster solved the problem of getting mothers to pack nutritious meals by asking them to try to remember to arrange for their child to have "something from the ocean and something from the hills" in addition to their rice. This made sure the children always had a combination of things to eat, and it also let him turn mealtime into educational time, because he'd quiz children about where their food came from. His wife would go around serving fish out of an "ocean" saucepan and potatoes out of a "hills" saucepan to anyone who had come up short that day. It was a simple system and they had fun with it.

Totto-chan broke sales records in Japan, has been translated into several language, and is still in print here in the United States. I suspect it - along with other work by the author, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi - has had more influence than some people would guess. Wikipedia has an article on the book here.

No comments: