In the past I have shared about my ongoing issues with weight. It’s been a struggle of mine for much of my life, and one that I do not want to pass on to my children. While it’s true that from time to time we go to chain, fast-food restaurants, it is far from the norm. In fact, my kids get so excited about Subway, those other burger-based joints are routinely skipped over. There are days though, where we end up in one. We talk a lot about how it’s not healthy food, and why is it that stuff that is so bad for us (deep fried potatoes are linked to cancer – did you know that?) can taste so good in the moment. We talk about how if we go to one of the chain restaurants, it’s only because we have all eaten really well that day, and will not be having any junk to eat afterwards.
MOMD’s position is everything in moderation. And while I really am opposed to fast-food intellectually, why do those damn fries taste so good??
Anyway. Yesterday was McHappy Day. On Monday, Connor brought home a little note from school advising parents of that fact (a fact the kids were all ready well aware of, thanks to classroom discussion), and explaining that staff from his school would be working at the restaurant on Bayly from 3:30-5:00. Further, money raised that day would be directed to a local children’s organization – The Grandview Centre.
When I saw this note, I had a little flicker of unease. At first, I didn’t know exactly what it was, so I pushed the feeling down and got on with getting homework done, starting dinner and chasing the boys around. I actually didn’t take the time to address my discomfort until we were sitting in the restaurant yesterday, the boys having just finished eating their dinners. As it turns out, I have several issues with this.
One: There is a strong sense of community in schools. Particularly in my son’s school, which is a Tribe school. This is great in many, many ways and I admit that I love his school pride and spirit. However, it makes it very difficult to say “we aren’t participating” in a school activity, because it’s a value statement. As his parents, when we say no, we are telling him that what he values is not important to us. And ever since this, I’m working really hard not to do that.
Two: I don’t want to send the message that supporting charities that focus on children’s welfare is not important. Especially since we have used the services of the beneficiary in this particular case (Sam’s hearing assessment happened at Grandview). It’s a great opportunity to have a discussion about what kind of needs kids have, what the charities help them with, and ultimately helps my kids to see how much they have in their lives.
Three: (And this is the biggie) Schools are more and more, becoming places of health. Connor has gym 4 days out of 5, has outdoor play 3 times a day, and even has a “healthy snack” program. Kids are taught about food groups, healthy choices, unhealthy choices, and parents are talked to when lunch bags seem to be consistently unhealthy. There’s a strong focus on educating both the parent and child in an effort to have healthier individuals in society. Connor has even had marketing education: he came home from school one day talking about the lies in commercials. I for one, think this is great.
Here’s where the disconnect comes in.
If we are working so hard to raise healthy people, why on earth would a school link arms with a fast-food restaurant? Many schools – Connor’s included – are free of vending machines now: no pop, no chips, no chocolate bars. If you want to buy a drink at school, you’re choices are either white or chocolate milk (whether or not that’s “healthy” is another debate altogether, so I’ll skip over it in this post). If you didn’t bring your snacks, or you forgot your lunch, there are fruits and vegetables and yogurts. These children are looking to parents and educators for guidance, they trust us. And telling them “Let’s go to McDonalds to help kids and support out community,” is a departure from their usual message. It muddies the waters, and makes it more difficult to explain to my kids that french fries are unhealthy and are making us sick, so we have to eat less of them. When the school aligned themselves for this community day – which again I stress is a great initiative helping many, many people who need our help – they put a stamp of approval on the restaurant, and the food it serves.
It is that which I take issue with. But am I crazy? What do you think? Am I overreacting? Have your say in the comments.