Monday, January 14, 2008

There Are Children Starving in China....

But first, a few housekeeping details.

Mr. Daddy is out of town for seven days. That means the care and keeping of the two chirrun is up to me. Tonight? A rousing success. No tantrums. No tears. Oh, and the kids were really well behaved too. (Also? I can blog with abandon! I'm going to positively gorge myself on blogs! Bwahahahaha!)

Lauren's sister solved the mystery. Check out the comments in this post. Yay Lauren's sister! I thought I was going to have to get In Search Of involved.

And finally, look what Karen over at The Rocking Pony gave me!

Karen is one of my best blogging buddies! If I could give this right back to her I would, but I think that kind of defeats the purpose. So, I'm going to pass it on to a new friend, Tootsie Farklepants over at Vintage Thirty, and my old (and by old I mean long time!) friend Laurel at The Tea Party Place. But truly, I love you all!

But now back to the starving children.

So, you know there's an obesity epidemic in this country, right? Especially among children, right? The old song and dance was that we all had to clean our plates. But not anymore. We all know that, right?

Apparently my son's pre-K didn't get that memo.

See, at this school, if you clean your plate (making a "happy plate" they call it), you get a prize. And not just any prize. You get a piece of candy. Yes, you heard me. You get a piece of candy. Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with candy in and of itself. Candy has its place and time. I just don't think that it should be used as an encouragement to get kids to eat.

Bubba comes home almost every day telling me that he made a happy plate. Once or twice he mentioned how full he was and I told him that he didn't have to eat it all if he didn't want it. "But Mommmeeee! I wanted to make a happy plate!"

My concern grew when I visited for his Holiday Luncheon. I served his plate with a small amount of everything that was offered. His school does have one rule that I heartily approve of -- you have to try at least one bite of everything on your plate. So, I made Bubba try everything. He ate all of some things and overall ate what I thought was a good amount. He asked if he could have his dessert -- a cookie -- and I said yes.

"Bubba!" his teacher chimed in. "You can't have your cookie. You didn't make a happy plate!"

Um. I'm his mother. If I say he's eaten enough to have his cookie, then he can have his cookie!

Overall, I really like Bubba's school. They seem to be giving him a very good basis for kindergarten. They go on interesting field trips. His class has several international students and he's getting exposed to a lot of other cultures. And I really like his teacher. She GETS Bubba (i.e. she thinks he's really smart, like I do!). But, she also knows how to keep him in line.

And see, here's where my real dilemma comes in. Bubba eats very little at home. My stance has always been that the whole family will eat what I cook. I refuse to be a short order cook. And you have to eat at least one bite of everything on your plate. But, if that's all you choose to eat, then that's all you get. No snacks. Nothing. If you don't eat, you go to bed hungry. There are many nights when it seems that Bubba eats very little. So, it kind of comforts me to know that he is at least eating something at school. Even if he does feel compelled to eat it all.

Am I going to bring this up with school administration. Maybe. I haven't decided yet. What do you think?


Laurel said...

Hey, old friend! Thanks for the bloggin buddies award! We kinda started about the same time, didn't we. I still love reading your stuff.

This one is tricky. I'm with you. I don't agree with having to eat everything. Kids need to learn to eat until they're full, not until it's all gone. That's a terrible habit. But then again, my daughter eats nothing at school, and I mean nothing!

Ultimately, your training at home will mean a lot more than even 8 months at this school, but it would be worth a conversation if you feel up to it. Maybe just put a bug in their ear so it will give them a different perspective.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

OMG! I got an award! Thank you! I shall post it thusly.

I am so with you on the not making someone clean their plate. There may be children starving in China but that doesn't mean we have to take up the slack. It would perturb me as well that this is being practiced. I would say something. Especially about the candy part. Now I'm irritated. My BIGGEST pet peeves is when another adult tells my child what to do when I'm present AND ESPECIALLY if I've already told my child what they can or can't do. UURRRRGH!

Lulu said...

Does Bubba have an early lunch? Perhaps she's doing this because the children were getting hungry and irritable before the end of the school day because they were picking at their food? Do they get an afternoon snack?

Regardless, I think that I would talk with the teacher about it, if only to find out why she's making the kids clean their plates.

Lauren said...

Yes, Yes, YES! Please say something about this. You would probably be doing a lot of mom's a huge favor...and Im sure if you brought it to their attention the administration would most certainly agree.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I'm with you; they need to knock it off. Time for a little chat about how clean plates aren't as important as recognizing when you are full.

Let me know how it goes, mmkay? I need to address the freakin' chocolate cookies and other junk that are routinely doled out for afternoon snack at our daycare. Oh wait, it was the DONUTS for breakfast that sent me over the edge. Has anybody ever heard of apple slices and cereal? Gah! If other people are feeding my kid crap, then I don't get to. It should be my privilege and only my privilege.

Susan at One-Woman Show said...

I would definitely say something. Our pediatrician has always said, "kids will stop eating when they're full." Hey, wait! That's what us adults are supposed to do -- and, frankly, this adult has a lot of trouble stopping when I'm full BECAUSE I was raised in the happy plate club.

I wonder if this is just one teacher's method, or if it is really endorsed by the school? I think you could say something in a non-threatening way, as I'm sure the teacher is just trying to get the kids to eat something "healthy" before going to the snack part. (Why the snack/reward is always candy is another question.) It is certainly against the grain (no pun intended) of where most schools are headed.

Keep us posted!

All Adither said...

Well, I have more serious fish to fry with the whole food allergy thing...have to work on building up my social currency and all. But if I didn't, I'd probably bring up something like this.


Amanda said...

I would say something. It's taken me YEARS to learn to stop eating, not once I'm full, but once I'm no longer hungry. I don't want my children having to do this. Maybe you could tell Bubba he can have a piece of candy when he gets home whether he's made a "happy plate" or not? Just a thought.

caramama said...

First of all, this reminds me of a promotion I saw at McDonalds once when I was living in Georgia. They were offering free apple pies to people who supersized their meals. Because that's just what you need if you supersize your McFried McFatty-burger. An apple pie. (For the record, I actually love McDonalds and their apple pies... I just know better than to supersize it because that is too much food for me.)

Second, I'm currently reading Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, by Ellyn Satter. She mentions just this issue of kids listening to their bodies for when they are full and to stop eating then. She also writes the book How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much.

I totally think you should say something, and you could mention these books as current research from experts, if you need. Good luck!

Colleen said...

yeah, I'd say something. They should maybe reward (with something yummy like raisins) for trying everything on your plate...not necessarily cleaning their plate. And I wonder, too, if maybe they're filling them up in an attempt to not need to do a snack later in the afternoon (another can of worms, there).

oh, and BBM...donuts??? really??? yikes! They have cookies on Friday afternoon, only, and they are sitting on the front desk out of the children's they need to get parent's permission.

Karen said...

You deserve awards, your blog RAWKS.

I cannot believe, in this day and age, that the school is touting such stuff. I understand the concept as most kids hate school food and wouldn't ever eat anything, but there's gotta be a better way. Let me guess, are they banning running on the playground because someone might trip and fall? Because that would go hand and hand with the obesity problem.

ImpostorMom said...

this would drive me bonkers, especially the part about the cookie.

My husband was made to clean his plate as a child and guess what, he's still compelled to do it. Sometimes he cleans mine as well. It's a hard habit to break.

Maybe he's not eating as much at home because he's eating soooo much during the day. And maybe that's ok too but I would have real problems with the clean plate thing as well as the food as a reward thing.