Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Bacon is in the first grade. She attends a charter school that we chose for its academics, its uniforms, its proximity to our home, and the fact that last year, when she started kindergarten, it had no restrictive food policies or silly health lessons about exercise.

I knew that raising a kid with HAES, to be an intuitive eater, to love her body would be difficult. I knew I'd come up against some pretty determined people who would think they'd have her best interests in mind when they suggested other methods, when they pooh-poohed Family Feeding Dynamics and were aghast that, yes, I have fed my kid McDonald's and agreed that it tasted good, and was a treat.

I knew it would happen. I thought I had at least a little more time before her school started crusading against all things "unhealthy".

She received this assignment on Friday:

This year we are challenging our school community to establish healthy habits at home. Starting Friday, September 24, 2010, students will have weekly homework for physical education class. Students will be required to fill out activity logs for the time they are active when they are not in school. We are encouraging families to work together and find ways to be active and start establishing those healthy life habits. Every two weeks students will receive a blank activity log. It is their responsibility to find ways to be active so that at the end of each week they have accumulated at least 150 minutes. At the end of the two weeks they will return their completed activity log to their homeroom turn in bin and receive a blank one. The activity logs will be part of the student's physical education grade and follow the school homework policy. Students may count any physical activity done outside of the school hours (before and after school activities/sports count). Biking, swimming, playing at the park, skating, sports, &walking, are all examples of ways to be active. T.V and video/computer games do not count as activity time. Please help your students to find fun ways to be active and start living a healthy lifestyle together! Get up and play 60 a day! If you have further questions please contact [the gym teacher].

You'll notice it assumes, three times, that we and our students don't already have any healthy habits. Considering this went out to all nine grades of the school - K-8 - I find that astonishing. Not one family in that school is athletic? None of these kids play sports? Oh, but wait, they do - since sports count toward your obsessive total - so ...? I also like that she makes a point to tell us that watching television is not physical activity. All these years, I've been sitting on my ass, needlepointing or reading or scrapbooking while in front of the tube, and NOW I learn that didn't count as exercise?! WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME!

Of course Bacon will not be participating. I'm sending an email, bright and early Monday morning, telling them that she won't be participating and why: it's antithetical to our values as a family. I refuse to teach my six-year-old that exercise only counts if you write it down, and that the only way to be healthy is to monitor yourself. I'm pretty sure she'll manage to absorb that message someday - she is, after all, a girl in America.

They've placed restrictions on snacks, too. Did you know that plain honey-graham snacks are cookies? Cookies. Like Oreos or Chips Ahoy!. We're allowed to send fruit, veggies, cheese, unflavored crackers, and water.

Unflavored crackers and water. My, that sounds like a nutritious snack, doesn't it? You'd be so depressed eating it, you wouldn't be able to absorb a damn bit of good from it. Also, I'm not sure what constitutes "unflavored". Silly me thought plain bunny grahams were unflavored, but then, I also thought they weren't cookies. I mean, I'm fat: shouldn't I be able to tell a cookie from a non-cookie? 

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is probably all part of federal funding and Michelle Obama's fatwa against fatties, which just compounds my anger. Bad enough that the school is meddling in my family's health practices, but that they're probably doing so under the aegis of the fucking feds? 

There's no way to look at this in a good light. There's no way to not rock the boat. I've been a pretty passive activist, mostly due to my personality, my anxieties; there's no way for me to subvert this without standing up and screaming about it. 

Let's hope I've got the lungs for it.