13 July 2007

Busy day, school thoughts, and defense of limiting sweets

Another mad day, swimming and visiting, Daniel’s birthday party and spending time with my mum. One thing worth telling is that I visited the school mum has been working at and seen the teacher I had at age 9. She was blown away by the children –she kept saying (in shock) “You’re a grown woman – and haven’t you done well!” She told all the kids we saw that I was her best student ever (one of those things teachers say about ex-pupils) but it really hasn’t made me all mushy about my own school memories! No nostalgia – she was one of the very few teachers I ever had that didn’t patronise me, and she wrote on one report that she considered me to be a friend rather than a child.

Jenna seemed so unfazed by the school setting, and every classroom we went into she found a seat at a table and started chatting to the children (all of them ages 8-10). It was nice to see a school going in a positive direction, and I’m confirmed in my assertion that I’m not anti-school. I’m anti-testing. I’m anti-curriculum. I'm anti-one-size-fits-all. I’m anti-“early years”. But this school was working hard to consciously make the best of what they’d got and maximising the freedom they could get to do what was needful rather than what was targeted by the Powers That Be.

The party gave me a timely reminder. I’m letting Jenna have more say over what she eats but I’m still finding that I really can’t let her have sugar as anything more than an occasional lapse. The chocolate coy milk is her lot actually right now, because it causes her such big problems. I’ve been asking myself, “what would happen if I just said yes” about everything I tell her she can’t do. Some things I realise that the answer is, “nothing” and so I revise the rule. Sometimes the answer is, “it would be hell for a week and then she’d settle down.” But sometimes the answer is, “it would hurt her or make her ill and she is not old enough to deal with that consequence.”

Let me put it this way, at ten years old I can tell her that she will probably break her leg if she jumps off a hay bale. If she does it and breaks her leg then she can live with the consequences, she is responsible for putting herself in hospital. That might be too far for some parents but actually I think for me at ten being forbidden would have guaranteed that I not even think it through before jumping. Maybe at eight I would still give the warning, and consider going up there to get her down. Perhaps I would give a *stronger* warning. But at three years old, if I don’t stop her, I am responsible. If I tell her that she will break her leg it is meaningless! She isn’t able to see the consequence right now and she isn’t even able to remember one day to the next what the consequence was LAST time without good reminders and plenty of repetition. She is still very young no matter how smart she is.

Same with sugar, only slightly less serious. If I tell her that it will make her head fuzzy and she will feel very sad and not be able to understand what I say to her, she will go ahead and eat the sweets! It is meaningless, she doesn’t know yet that it is a hard and fast rule and she can’t remember how she felt yesterday. It is further worsened by the fact that even as an adult I find it hard to logically link what I eat with how I feel, because once you feel better you just forget feeling rubbish.

All in defence of, yes, I restrict her access to things that hurt her. Including chocolate and sweets and fizzy drinks and cake and ESPECIALLY coloured icing. ;)

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