Cookie Monster

Sometimes a story shows up in the media that sends me into a fury—your basic throw-your-shoe-at-the-TV-set fury.  So I didn’t write about it immediately.  Instead, I put myself into a blogger’s time-out.  “Give it some time,” I told myself.  “See if your still mad about it then.”

So I gave myself a couple of weeks to think about it.  Besides, for those couple of weeks I had other things to write about—a new book coming out in paperback (Remains of Innocence has been on the NYTimes top ten list for THREE weeks now, thank you.) as well as chasing after a new puppy.  (JoJo is currently curled up asleep in Bella’s bed with Bella.)  So this morning, seeing as how it’s Wednesday, I checked my potential blog index and guess what.  I’m still mad.  So here goes.

From what was reported, I understand that a woman, somewhere in the wilds of Colorado, was packing her daughter’s lunch a couple of weeks back.  She’s a mom.  She probably has a job.  Maybe a couple of pets to worry about.  Maybe—probably—her life is complicated, and grocery shopping is one of those things that has to be scheduled.  So that morning, while packing a lunch, the mother looked in her fridge only to find that the vegetable bin was bare.  (Ever had celery sticks go bad or have a package of those cute little sweet carrots turn slimy and sour?  Believe me, I know how that can happen!)

So this particular mom shut the fridge door and looked in her cupboard which, it turns out, was NOT bare.  On one of the shelves she found a container of  individually wrapped packets of Oreo Cookies.  Perfect!!!  So that’s what she put in her daughter’s lunch along with her sandwich—a packet containing not one but two whole Oreo Cookies.  (Back when I was packing school lunches—on those days when I couldn’t scrape together enough change out of the bottom of my purse for my kids to buy their lunch—I would have LOVED to have had packets of Oreo Cookies available during those hectic let’s-get-everybody-to-school-and-work moments in the middle of my kitchen!)

So the girl took the lunch her mom had packed, and off she went to school.  At lunch, a member of the Lunch Room Police, spotted that illicit packet of forbidden Oreos.  The eagle-eyed LRP promptly confiscated same, gave the girl something “appropriate,” (carrots, I believe!).  Then the school sent the poor harried mom a pre-printed letter pointing out the error of her ways and listing what ingredients were appropriate for home-made lunches.  As far as I’m concerned, this whole ordeal puts a brand new spin on the name Cookie Monster!!!

First let me say that in the world of lunchroom bartering (which is also no longer allowed, by the way) no kid on the planet would ever consider a carrot a fair trade for Oreo Cookies.  And speaking of lunch rooms in the old days, did anyone reading this ever show up at lunch with say, a packet of Twinkies, and have the school bully take it away, no questions asked?  Except now it’s the adults, not the kids, who are doing the bullying.  The way the world is currently constituted, what a parent chooses to feed his or her child is susceptible to being judged by people in the school world and deemed to be “appropriate” or not. Shame, shame, shame!!!

By the way, it turns out that at that particular school sweets are evil only if they’re being given out by the parental units involved, because the school itself uses JELLY BEANS!!!! as a reward for good behavior!!  Excuse me.  How do you spell institutionalized HYPOCRISY??!!!

I’m sure there will be plenty of folks out there who will go to the mat and tell me that I have the facts all wrong, and maybe that’s true.  After all, how much can you trust the media these days?

The girl in the above case was attending a private school on the school district’s nickel due to overcrowding in her local public school.  That meant she was a scholarship student at a high-priced school—an exclusive school, and that made her ripe for bullying, not only by her fellow students, but by the faculty as well.

Unfortunately, I know a little too much about this.  I know, for example, that if a scholarship student is being bullied by a kid whose parents pay the full-fare, the school’s faculty is likely to turn a blind eye.  In the instance I’m thinking of, the administration refused for TWO YEARS, to honor the parent’s request to put her son in a different classroom to separate him from the bully, even though the bully—the full fare kid– was drawing pictures of her son hanging on the end of a rope or being cut up with knives or shot with guns.  Not only was the son being bullied, so was the mother.

The only solution, in that case, was for her to remove her son from that situation and place him in a public school where, I’m happy to report, he is thriving.

But here’s my question.  Who gave the people in the schools the right to stand in loco parentis?  What makes school systems decide to come between the parent and child, thus eroding the rights and responsibilities of parenthood.  In the case of physical or sexual abuse, yes, we do need someone to step in and defend children (I have some first hand knowledge about that, too, by the way)! But Oreo Cookies?  Give me a break.

If I were packing lunches these days and received one of those pre-printed “what-you-should-do-is notes, I suspect the next day’s lunch box would be full to the brim of Jelly Beans, and let the chips (potato, of course) fall where they may!

Down with Cookie Monsters everywhere!