Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fighting Over Crumbs

There are times when I am brutally reminded that I live in suburbia. Not that there's anything wrong with that ... it can just feel depressing sometimes. Perfect example: when the PTA moms (and, yes, I am technically one of them) get their panties in a bunch about cupcakes (and to be fair to the increasingly active dads, their boxers or briefs ~ for those men and women going commando, that's another post).
At a recent meeting, there was mention that birthday celebrations might be reduced to one per month. Each child will be recognized on their actual birthday with the usual crown or pin, song or whatever, but celebrations will be one time for all birthdays that month. I don't even recall that banning cupcakes was mentioned. Healthy choices are being encouraged (i.e. fruit platters), and the entire issue is being clouded with allergy concerns, wellness concerns and education (time away from instruction) so it gets confusing ... and loud.
You might have thought someone had threatened children's lives. The immediate and frenzied reaction was truly something to witness. Now, I love my kids as much as the next person, but do I really think that not having a cupcake or a donut or whatever on their birthday is going to scar them for life and irrevocably alter their early childhood? NO. (My daughter is a summer birthday anyway, so she is already discriminated against by these standards.) I also do not think that childhood obesity has a damn thing to do with snacks in school. The cupcake the obese child is eating has nothing on the crap he or she probably eats at home while sitting around watching TV and playing video games.
Within days, local news reported that a district in the neighboring county actually did ban cupcakes (www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/cupcakes-out-west-babylon-schools-ban-home-baked-goodies-1.1521806). The buzz was intense. Allergy moms pitted against non-allergy moms. Socialists threatening libertarians. OK, not really. But you would have thought people were fighting over something more substantial than a cupcake. With cries of "you can't tell me what to feed my child" and "it's freedom of choice," you definitely would not walk into the room and think the virulent debate was about baked goods. After all, not having cupcakes on your birthday in school is unAmerican! Call O'Reilly, Beck and Hannity QUICK!
The passion exhibited over this topic depresses me. With everything going on in the world, with everything one could expend energy on, people get riled up and active about cupcakes?!?? Really??? It just disturbs me.
Lots of parents who are also teachers in other districts (some on LI, some in the city) say it's only a matter of time before the state makes school food-free (obviously, aside from lunch). There are too many parties anyway. Don't even get me started on Thanksgiving celebrations ...
Point is: it seems to me that a lot of time and energy will be spent on an issue that is going to be decided for us in the end. How can we channel the motivation and the interest surrounding cupcakes to something more productive and beneficial to the community as a whole? That's my mystery for the month. I fear it will never be solved.


  1. Think outside the twinkie....how about we all start callinbg our Local Senator and ask if we will be receiving Grant monies to fund a Walking Club that helps to burn off the cupcakes...that would help all, cupcakers and non cupcakers...lets put an end to Cupcake-gate and move onto Walking Club-gate

    Thank you
    Pat M

  2. I am sad to say that your mystery for the month will likely remain and will never be solved as you fear.

  3. Hmm...Personally I am anti-cupcake. In school, that is. I would eat them tasty little things all day if given the chance. However, in the spirit promoting healthy choices I would gladly give up the birthday cupcake in class. Doesn't the little crown, sticker, song or whatever make them feel special enough? Why do they NEED a cupcake at 10am snacktime? Would anyone give their kids cupcakes at 10am on any other day? It may be YOUR kid's birthday, but it's just another day in MY kid's life, so please keep the cupcakes at home.

    Chrissy O.

  4. By the way...I sent in cupcakes for Sarah's birthday last week. : ) I agree with you though. It's not the cupcakes they eat in school, it's what they eat at home that may be the problem. Also, even though I don't want to be told what I can send in for my kid's birthdays, I agree that they will be no worse for the wear if they don't get them in school.
    Sue D.

  5. This debate that is depressing you is far more than the cupcake you speak of. I believe that people are getting so heated over small things. WHY... becuase they feel like there are so many important things, especially on LI right now, that they can not control so they go over the top on trying to CONTROL THINGS THEY THINK THEY CAN. Everyone has a voice but less and less we have control over things. I too could take or leave the cupcake issue but honestly, as a physical therapist in a school sysytem for 10 years, these kids don't need it. PLANT A FLOWER outside the building or something for everyone's birthday, get them using their fine motor skills out there and beautify the school besides :)
    Lori S. (PT)- Merrick

  6. As a parent with a child that has recently discovered food allergies,I do find it challenging to participate with cupcake celebrations. So that my child does not feel left out, I send her in with a "treat" she can have. I agree that the couple of times a month for a celebration is not the cause of child obesity. Healthy lifestyles begin at home. I say, bring on the Birthday celebration and let the parent decide if they would like to have their child participate. Besides, they can burn off the calories with their mandated 20 minute daily gym session =) MP

  7. Just an FYI
    The mandated gym session only becomes 8 minutes after instruction, controlling behaviors etc.....its a joke
    LORI S.(PT)

  8. My son turned 7 last week. There was never any mention of sending ANYTHING to school to celebrate. NO ONE brought up the idea. All the kids in his grade had a "PE Party" (an extra PE session of game playing)to celebrate all the October birthdays. They were happy to get into the gym and run around, regardless of how long or short the play time actually was. Its not that the gym time is intended to counteract the junk being eaten elsewhere, its a chance to get away from their desks and MOVE.

    As you said, its stunning that so much energy and time could be spent on something so inane. Kids will cherish whatever traditions we as parents create for them, be it planting something, running in a gym or taking them shopping for toys.