Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Sugar-Free Heart Healthy Imaginary Principal Day!

I am amazed at the way Valentine's Day has morphed since I was in elementary school. Instead of it being a simple classroom party with cupcakes and paperbag mailboxes, my kids now have jump-roping for heart health contests and vegetable trays. In fact, the word Valentine isn't even really used any longer.

The city schools refer to February 14th as "Heart Healthy Day", and those cupcakes are not on the guest lists. Truly, I support the schools' healthier cafeteria options and ban on sodas and fast food during lunch. However, as a parent who does generally feed my kids healthy meals, I resent the fact that I am no longer able to send in doughnuts for birthdays or sugar cookies for Christmas--woops, I mean Winter Fest.

I am now given healthy menu lists to choose from, with none of the items being terribly inexpensive. Vegetables and dip, orange slices, cheese cubes, whole wheat pretzel sticks. Throw in a bottle of chardonnay and you have an office party for body-conscious middle aged women. I have to wonder, too, about how many 1st graders are actually gnoshing on that veggie and cheese tray I so painstakingly prepared. Please, People, is one Valentine's cupcake really going to send everyone into insulin shock and subject them to a future of morbid obesity? I think not.

Maybe if little kids we're allowed to actually play outside after school instead of sitting at home behind locked doors eating Cheetos and playing Grand Theft Auto, we wouldn't have so many overweight children in our society. But why punish all responsible children (and parents), by subjecting them to miserable class parties? I love hummus as much as the next person, but give me some homemade fudge, and you've made my day. I LOVED Valentine's parties when I was in school---well up until the 5th grade. But before then, I couldn't wait to write my friends names on Strawberry Shortcake cards and put them into doily covered mailbags. I loved having my mom drop off Rice Krispy treats at my classroom and showing her the special card I'd made for her during craft time. And then later at home, I loved sorting my notes into piles according to levels of friendship. Oh shush, you know you did it too. BFF, kind of friends, not friends, & boys. You remember how it went.

I don't think teachers back then were so PC as to make sure everyone was given a Valentine, because I certainly didn't give most boys cards and the girls who were mean to me, well I just never bothered to sign my name. My kiddos have lists of 20+kids that they must send notes to. I can't even pronounce half of these names, but they painstakingly print out each 14 lettered alias and stash them away in their backpacks. It was during this portion of homework time that I learned the ugly truth about my daughter.

Some kids have imaginary friends, some even have imaginary pets, my daughter has an imaginary principal and homeroom teacher. WHAT?! She's 3 for Pete's sake! While the boys wrote out their Valentines, I helped the Wreckity Girl pick out a few cards for her "bestest girls"-- her little chicks from MOPS, and Sunday School, and Bible Study Childcare. Basically the same 5 Bestest Girls are in every class, since their moms are friends of mine, so they see each other on a pretty regular basis. We finished addressing her cards and then she announces, "And now I need one for Mr. Box & Mrs. Jenks." Um, who are these people? "They are my principal and my teacher."

Now let me inform you that the child does not attend preschool. She does not attend any kind of school unless it starts with the word Sunday. She stays home with her mama and does crafts and visits her Granny and goes to lunch with friends and does all the fun things that 3 year-old socialites do. I love having her home with me, and although I'd probably consider a 2 day preschool if funds were available, I think she's pretty well socially adapted and on her way to becoming ready for Kindergarten. That said, most days she loves staying home, but when she hears her friends talk about school, or watches her brothers get on their buses every day, she feels left out. She wants to join in, and suddenly going to Shortpump to play in the fountain doesn't sound so exciting. She wants a backpack with her lunch packed inside. She wants homework (tracing) to work on while the boys write spelling word sentences. She wants in on all the school action.

Cue Mr. Box & Mrs. Jenks. I've heard her playing pretend school with her babies and animals, but I was "unawares" that there were actual characters involved. Returning characters. With titles. I guess I should be pleased that she views school as such a positive environment. She really enjoys going with me to help with the Book Fairs or Holiday Shoppes. And she loves watching her brothers in their Spelling Bees and Concerts. So why do I feel so guilty? Because she would rather play with an imaginary principal than her mother? Because I'm keeping her from an early Harvard acceptance since I don't send her to preschool?

Fortunately for me, I don't hold onto regrets for very long. I think my Wreckity Little Girl probably has a case of keeping up with the Joneses more than anything. And although she loves to sit in assemblies, she can't wait to go home and read books, and snuggle with her ni-night and babies. And I won't feel guilty, because these years fly by way too quickly, and anyway, I'm a way better homeroom teacher than Mrs. Jenks.

"Singing her Alpha-bits"

1 comment:

  1. This was such a cute post. I found your blog through Amanda's. I'm so glad I am the oldest child and got to go first at everything. It must be so hard to stay behind while her brothers are going to school, but she is so blessed to have you home with her. I never had an imaginary teacher, because I was always playing the role of teacher and had imaginary students. It's pretty inventive that she even came up with an imaginary principal. Just remember, preschool is NOT a prerequisite for kindergarten. She is learning way more from the experiences you give her on a daily basis than in a classroom.