Back to the candy factory…..I mean, school

My children have gone back to school. If I said I was sorry about that, I’d be lying.

I love my kids, but summer is hard for working moms. And August is crazy around here because I’m about to leave on my 4th trip of the month, all 4 of my kids have had birthdays in the past 3 weeks, and two of my kids have changed from public to charter school, or charter to public school, this year. Immunization waivers from the health dept. are a pain in the butt.

And my oldest daughter turned 16 yesterday and is not only transferring to the charter school I co-founded (Newseek says it’s the #1 school in Utah)—she’s also moving back home after living with her dad for a while. (Tears welling up just writing that. I’ve no words to express my happiness about both of these events.)

I went to the elementary school where Tennyson is transferring into 6th grade. I waited in line to talk to the teacher. A bag of M&M’s was on each desk, with the child’s name hand-lettered on it.

This was the convo:

Me: I’ve heard great things about you! My son is excited to bust out of 6 straight years wearing a school uniform. I just have one concern. I’m kind of a, um, you know, health food nut. I know, I’m weird. But I’m not a huge fan of candy as an academic or behavioral reward. I read in your handout that you do that?

Teacher: Oh, haha, yeah, um, I really should do less of that.

Me: I just wanted to volunteer to pay for alternative rewards, you know, that stuff you can buy a pack at a time—pencils, little toys, notepads, stuff like that? If you buy it, for the whole class, I’ll pay for it, instead of the candy.

Another Mom: Oriental Trading Company is good.

Me: I know candy is the easy thing to do. [I hand her my business card and tell her I’m teaching a class here in Orem Sept. 6 and I hope she can come, bring her husband and kids.]

Teacher: Oh, Green Smoothie Girl! I know you! I do green smoothies.

Another Mom: Oh! You’re Green Smoothie Girl! I just got your newsletter this morning—I want some of those raw bars! Are they really good? [A conversation ensues between the teacher and the waiting moms about how this mom has been surreptitiously slipping the greens into the kids’ breakfast smoothie and how excited she is about it.]

[I know with that raw-bar comment, this whole blog just got suspiciously self-indulgent, especially when I put the link behind the words! They are yummy and so nutritious. But I am not making this conversation up.]

Teacher: It’s hard to find stuff that appeals to 6th graders. Stickers just aren’t gonna cut it. How about pretzels, should I give those to your son instead?

Me: Um, that’s not really better. White flour and salt, you know? When my kids were little, I used to take alternative “healthy” treats to the teachers for when candy was being handed out. But Tennyson probably won’t like that. If you don’t find something whiz-bang enough at Oriental Trader that 6th graders will like, I might just set up a reward system where I pay him $1 for every treat he turns down. Or maybe I will give you some alternative treats for him, if he’s okay with it.

[end of conversation]

Any moms who have better ideas, let me know. My kids have been educated at a charter school I helped open, since my 18-year old was in 3rd grade. So I haven’t had to deal with this, much, for a very long time.

My purpose talking to the teacher is to (a) identify myself as a watchful parent who cares about not only my child’s health and nutrition, but the whole class’s, (b) be positive and offer to help, and (c) let the teacher know that I generally support her even if there’s one area where I’m a fan of the classroom policy.

I’m sure the moms reading this blog would like feedback and ideas, so join the conversation!