You know, I know exactly how some of my American friends must have felt about having that idiot George Bush in the Oval Office. We've have the same problem over here at the moment with that idiot Gordon Brown - or more precisely the Labour Party. After a while you just want to bop them on the head with a large frying pan or squash a gigantic custard pie in their face.
I know, I know - I've ranted before about the government and the trend for political correctness, the expenses scandal and the deteriorating education system. But come on, I haven't even touched the surface have I? What about the "illegal" war in Iraq or the unexplained death of Dr David Kelly?
But now something has really got me mad. So mad I'm about to explode. (And it may not be a pretty sight.)
Yes, I've had yet another irritating letter from school.
Okay, so this latest letter is about a"Healthy Eating" policy which the school plans to introduce. The letter states that children should not have crisps, chocolate coated biscuits, sweets of any kind and products such as sausage rolls, corned meat and pies should only be given on occasion.
Yeah, right. Dream on Mr Brown - you've never had any pork pies have you? And lets not even mention the charming Mr Prescott shall we??
And if that preaching isn't annoying enough, the letter also recommends some alternatives which include:
Cake (What and no choccy biscuits???)
Oh, and oily fish, such as salmon, every three weeks.
Right. Stuff every British kid really enjoys, especially cold. Or even slightly warm on a hot day with no fridge. Lovely.
Hmm... I'm just not sure if Master Jacob will look forward to his lunch of chickpea fritters and cold noddles. And of course there's no knowing what Master Ben would do with some hummus but let's just say that the school won't ever be short of adhesive. And as for Master Sam well he prefers to walk round to the local Tescos to buy some lunch rather than have a school dinner - since salt was prohibited.
So anyway, I've drafted a letter. Here goes;
In reference to your letter regarding Healthy School Dinners in which the opening paragraph states the school “should address the issue” of children filling up on sweets and crisps purchased on the way to school, I believe it is unfair to penalize the majority of parents by restricting the dietary choices of children/parents because of the actions of “a small number of pupils.”
If this is indeed a problem caused by out of school activity I do not see how it can be actively policed. In all likelihood, children will still continue to purchase the offending items and consume them on their way to school and/or in secret with the same net result. Personally, I believe what children do out of school hours is a matter for parental responsibility and unless the school wishes to ask local retailers to prohibit sales (which I feel will hardly be welcome) I cannot see how this policy can be satisfactorily implemented. Indeed, it is possible that the introduction of such a dictatorial dietary regime may only become a source of antagonism with the majority of responsible parents who themselves attended school with a bag of crisps and a chocolate biscuit in their lunch bags with no ill effect.
My son occasionally buys sweets and drinks on the way to school. I do not object to this. In fact, I believe it is actually a positive thing for him in developing his own individuality and maturing without me constantly supervising him. Further, it necessitates him becoming more consciously aware of what he can and cannot eat in the light of his peanut allergy. I always question him if items remain in his lunchbox and, if need be, I take the appropriate action. This usually entails giving something he likes to eat rather than imposing my own choices on him or checking his pockets for stray bonbons.
I appreciate the school’s concern over this matter which no doubt has its origins in the government inspired directives to contend with the current problem of childhood obesity. However, I believe, trying to implement a regime in this manner is actually quite insulting to the majority of parents. It is quite one thing to be offered advice but to have our children’s meals inspected and regimented smacks of George Orwell’s 1984.
In my opinion, these potential directives take no account of the fact that many parents are trying to balance work and family life and need to produce simple, nourishing and yet ultimately attractive meals that their child will consume. I’m sure most busy mums do not have the time or energy to produce little tubs of couscous and fresh noodles on a daily basis. Whilst I have every admiration for mothers with such noble sentiments I’m afraid most of us ordinary folks live in the real world and not the world of celebrity chefs and stir fried vegetables and risottos. (Although I’m sure such delicacies are every child’s dream; especially when left cold for 3 hours and drizzled with olive oil.) Most educated parents will provide the mainstay of their child’s dietary requirements in the evening meal and the packed lunch acts as a supplementary meal consisting of a mixture of healthy and tempting products they know their child will eat and keep them energised until the evening.
With regard to the proposed menus I would also like to suggest that some of the recommendations are questionable. For example, my son has a simple chocolate coated digestive biscuit daily (in which I see no harm as he extremely fit and healthy) and I would suggest that such a biscuit has less calories, sugar and fat than a slice of cake – even the homemade ones which (and this may come as a surprise to you) I will not be baking on a regular basis. However, I am happy to produce my homemade flapjack if this is acceptable. (Please note that it contains outrageous amounts of golden syrup, butter and brown sugar heavily disguised in some healthy looking oats.)
In summary, I believe a child’s eating habits are a matter of concern for parents alone. Further, given the wide variety of children’s dietary requirements, fetishes and food phobias it is presumptuous to implement a regime which takes no account of individual likes and dislikes. If the school wishes to raise the matter of poor eating habits with parents who maybe unaware of their child’s behaviour or perhaps even uneducated in what constitutes “healthy” than that is perfectly acceptable. However, the school essentially has no authority over this matter and in a free and democratic society that is just the way it should remain.
Now I should add that I also rewrote the school motto from;
"Our aim is to create a happy school where every member feels valued and able to achieve personal excellence."
“Our aim is to create an unhappy school where every member feels hungry and able to achieve personal starvation."
But on second thoughts (and the good Mrs A reigning me in) I decided maybe that was pushing my luck too far; I can just about get away with the rest as they already think I'm a complete nutter.
Still, I feel better for having a rant. It's a therapeutic. And you know what? Now I feel like some cheese and onion crisps and a chocolate biscuit. I think I'll draft out a letter to Mr Brown advising him on his eating habits while I munch. In fact, I may even go so far as to ask him about his lunch receipts; I hope he hasn't been eating any crisps.
Oh, and a final note when I feel the need to chill out I play some music. Today I choose this... enjoy!