Dear Sanctimommies: Please Don’t Call DCFS
There aren’t that many things I’ve done right as a parent. Seriously. I’m talking about rightness in the “what would other mothers think” sense. You know…
I know I shouldn’t care about other people’s opinions. I don’t… when I’m in my own home, doing my own thing. However, when you’re in a room with 30 other mums and your parenting choices are about to be made public, you do care. A lot. As in the “up the night before, sweating and swearing about the state of your home-baked fairy cakes and DIY Halloween costume” kind of caring. Before you know it, you begin to question whether or not you’re making healthy parenting choices.
Is DCFS coming?
I’m a pretty confident mum (read: gobby) and while I rarely let the Sanctimommies’ judgy looks or remarks bother me, I do occasionally suffer from ‘OH MY GOD, SOMEONE IS GOING TO CALL SOCIAL SERVICES ON US’ moments.
– Naked baby in the car seat? Yes, I forgot a change of nappies and/or clean clothes.
– Toddler on a leash? Yes, of course. I’ve always wanted a horse!
– Child drinking Coca Cola? Yes, but it’s water inside the bottle.
– A child telling everyone at school that he drinks champagne? It’s Martinelli fizzy apple juice, REALLY.
Anyway, there is one thing that I have done really very right. I have chosen the right kindergarten. I say “I” but obviously it was a joint decision by myself and my husband. As he doesn’t like the spotlight and I love it, I shall refrain from saying “we” and hog the credit all to myself. *waves at husband*
Why you ask, are you so sure you’ve chosen the right kindergarten? Great teachers, great environment, great curriculum? Well, yes but that’s not what I’m talking about. Cough.
The school provides hot lunches every day, so I NO LONGER NEED TO MAKE PACKED LUNCHES. Yes. This is something bloody amazing in my books.
Rejoice: Bagged Lunch no more!
The first few months of making the lunches was a bit of a novelty. A weekly “menu” of what I’d make, with a cute little note. After less than a week, it was painful. The food became leftovers from the night before and the note became a hand drawn picture on the outside of the brown paper bag. The previous night preparation had turned into me just chuck that and that into a container at 8am, whilst necking a coffee and screaming. Most of the Tupperware containers and fun little lunch containers I’d bought were too small, and to make things worse, the child would refuse to eat anything that he deemed “dithguthting”. He’d return home with a full lunchbox and declare he’d eaten fruit, fruit, and more fruit, and the teachers had taken such pity upon him that they would end up feeding him their emergency lunch provisions (for children that had forgotten to take lunch). What a nightmare. So, when I realized the school was going to bear this task, I rejoiced. Heavily.
The second amazing thing about this school? They are nut-aware rather than nut-free. They don’t scaremonger and are very sensible about the whole thing. They know which child has allergies and to what, but the overall policy is that nothing is banned. EXCEPT HOME-BAKED GOODS.
At his Montessori (which is a whole other issue altogether…), I was the Queen of not remembering until the night before that Biggie had a school event that required me to take home-baked treats to school by 9am. One option was to pick something up from a bakery before school, but because that ate into our morning routine of shouting/screaming/swearing by a good 20 minutes, it was never a good option. The only real option was to bake something before I went to bed. Fine. How hard is that?
Betty Crocker anyone?
It’s all excellent until you finish your fairy cakes, have drunk 5 coffees waiting for them to cool down enough before icing them, then realize from casually glancing at the school email sent 2 weeks beforehand, that ONE OF THE CHILDREN IN CLASS IS ALLERGIC TO FROSTING. I’m sorry, but who the ever-loving F is allergic to frosting?? Right. 28 made, only one child with an allergy. Scrape frosting off one fairy cake and stick a confectionery star atop. Done. Casually glancing through rest of email, you read that there’s a different child that is allergic to food coloring. Okay, no problem. Scrape frosting off a second fairycake, stick a sugar star on it.
Worry incessantly about a) will the coloring in sugar stars be enough to harm the child? b) is the color of star too gender-specific? WHY ARE THERE NO WHITE SUGAR STARS.
Last minute panic that a child will take the wrong cake and allergy children will be stuck with frosted fairycake… scrape off two more fairycakes and eat discarded frosting with a large amount of self-loathing, but not as much as deep regret for trying to be Betty Fucking Crocker.
Carefully place fairy cakes into largest Tupperware container on the planet, close lid and SQUASH ALL THE FROSTING which then smears over the non-frosted ones. At this point, STOP CARING IF SOMEONE DIES.
It’s 1:15AM and this is the last fucking time you do anything remotely Betty Crocker-esque.
So, when the school nurse announced their no home-baked goods policy, I almost fell to my knees and wept with joy. All treats taken to class for birthdays etc. must be shop-bought, show the ingredients and be marked with ‘Made in a nut-free environment” or words to that effect. I swear there was a collective gasp of relief throughout the room. Apart from, that is, one of the Sanctimommies, who was utterly devastated:
“My son only eats organic food. We don’t allow him ANYthing processed or shop-bought! He’s also nut-allergic so my kitchen is SPOTLESS and there will never ever be any cross-contamination!”
School nurse: “Not acceptable. These rules are for everyone and no child will die on my watch because of a mistake.”
Damn, lady. Organic Sanctimommy could be heard deep breathing into her Celine tote for the rest of the meeting, whispering “Are organic cucumbers ok?”