Before I had left home, Charlie had given me strict instructions to not be confrontational and although I certainly didn't want to come off as confrontational, I was a little nervous that once I started talking, I wouldn't be able to stop talking and I might say some things that may not be considered very nice.
Things like, "What kind of Cracker Jack joint are you running here, where you think it's acceptable to feed small children crap with zero nutritional value?"
Not that I would spout something like that, but it was very close to the front of my mind. So I needed to really practice what I was going to say beforehand, because even though I felt timid talking to the Director, if one of those less-than-tactful thoughts came in to my head, my vocal chords might grab them and run.
Because, hey you know what? My children are my top priority and it is my job to do everything in my power to make sure that they are nourished and cherished. And the fact that I'm struggling with guilt that I have them in school at all, is irrelevant.
So I rehearsed what I wanted to say and the segues leading from one point to the next, the whole 25 minute drive to school. The children sat in the backseat, completely quiet, until I would take a pause to collect my next train of thought, and then they'd ask, "Mommy? You not like cookies? You not like brownies and donuts?"
Oh my sweet children.
Of course I like cookies!
I love ALL of those things. Probably a little more than I should. And don't even get me started on my love of ice cream. I could write sonnets about my love of ice cream. I eat it almost every single night and have been known to go to the store at 10:30 PM just to get a fix.
But that's the thing about hypocrisy. Or, more specifically, the desire that my children will have a better grasp and appreciation of healthy food, than me.
Heather left me a comment on my post regarding my concern with the food they are serving at Montessori and asked, "Wait... wait... wait... didn't YOU take donuts to school when it was the kids turn for their party??"
She is right. And although I will take responsibility for contributing to the "bad food" environment on two of the three birthday parties for our children, I remain disappointed that the school specifically requested that I bring donuts in the first place.
Now without this turning in to a long post about how I wish that I could always make healthy food choices, I will admit that I was really hoping, expecting, anticipating that this "high quality" school would be able to help me, as a parent, establish and foster healthy eating habits in our children. I'll go so far as to say that I was anticipating that *I* would actually learn a thing or two regarding nutrition from the school that I could apply to our family, at large.
So when I arrived at the school and I spoke to the Director (er, Directress, a grandmotherly type who started this school 20 years ago and treats it like her home), I started off by saying I felt negligent that I didn't research their snack policy and menu before I sent the children to school full time (or at all, for that matter). I wrongly assumed that it would be at least consistent with what I've heard and read regarding other preschools.
The Director replied that the school offers the children healthy snacks every day and once (or twice) a week, they provide a sweet snack in the form of cookies or brownies. And on some mornings, they also provide a sugared cereal such as Fruit Loops.
Call me a prude but ideally, I'd prefer that our children's preschool not offer up Fruit Loops as a morning snack. It probably won't hurt them, but never once have I served them such sugar-laden cereal, and I don't want to start now.
I would like for our children to be in an environment where they learn to care for their body, mind and planet. I would prefer that the school sets a high standard for good nutrition and requests that the parents conform to that standard by not sending their children to school with Happy Meals.
(As apparently, many parents at our children's school have been known to do.)
The Director further told me that if I have concerns, she will make sure that our children don't receive any snacks from the school and instead, I can supply all of the snacks that I want for them to consume. And I was thinking that if I have concerns, I SHOULDN'T HAVE CONCERNS for the amount of money that we are spending to send our children there.
It actually surprised me that when I left the parking lot 10 minutes later, my children weren't back in their carseats and on their way home.
I don't want to over react and I fear I might be heading that direction.
Still, I told the Director that I will be sending snacks to school and I want to sit in on a class to observe our children. She said that we aren't scheduled to observe our children until the middle of February and I replied that February is too long to wait and I would be coming in to school the first week of December and I want to observe each of our three children in their respective classes. I also want to have conferences with each of the teachers regarding our children's progress. And although I didn't tell the Director this, if I am not completely satisfied following those meetings, I am going to pull the kids out
In hindsight, although I feel like I did a lot of research, I didn't do nearly as much as I should have. Sure, the teachers are all Montessori certified and Charlie and I were both impressed (to tears) when we sat in and observed the classes. But, the food thing really bothers me. And I don't think
Oh dear gracious the tuition.
Now if the parent-teacher conference yields that our children are thriving, I'll keep them in school. Otherwise, within the past week, I've looked in to several other options for schools around our neighborhood. I've also looked in to homeschooling and although I like the idea of homeschooling, there are certain children in our family that make me batty and I would truly fear for my mental stability if they were with me all day every day. I've also contemplated hiring a real live teacher to come in and instruct the children for three hours a day, in ... uh ... I don't know.
The bathroom? Closet? Garage?
Meanwhile, Charlie left this morning for a business trip to Washington, DC.
His shuttle to the airport arrived at 5:30 AM. At approximately 5:29 AM, he deposited a fussy and hot Henry in to my arms along with a bottle of infant Tylenol.
Of course it happens the very first day of my husband's five day business trip, my baby's temperature fluctuates between 100 and 104. And two of my three four-year-olds are complaining that they don't feel well.
Of course it happens the very first day.
My mother called me a few days ago to ask whether or not I had any one lined up to come help while Charlie was out of town. I told her that although I have the names of a few sitters, I would hopefully, be fine on my own. Mom then said that Charlie will have a great time away and this break will be good to help re-fuel his batteries.
When I asked, what about me, don't I deserve a break? My mother very matter of factly said, "Oh come on, Jen. You just had break. Remember?" I hesitated before responding, "No, I don't remember. What are you talking about?" Mom answered, "You had a break a few weeks ago when you sat down with all of those attorneys!"
I snorted and asked, "You seriously think being DEPOSED for a trial is considered a break? Are you kidding me? I was grilled for a full day by a team of lawyers from the opposing side of a substantial lawsuit. That's hardly the same as staying in a hotel, by yourself, with room service for five days!"
My mother very seriously replied, "Jen, you were in a fancy building with breathtaking views of the City and they brought in pastries and a catered lunch. Right? That IS a break."
Well, I suppose.
When you put it that way.