It's so cliche' for adults to start sentences with: When I was growing up...or Back in the day... It's always followed up with how much better, easier, harder or more simple life was. When I was growing up, I walked a mile to school when I was in Kindergarten. Back in the day, we didn't need electronics for entertainment - all we needed was a stick.
With that said, when I was growing up, a school holiday party was a real party. Now they're more like standardized distractions. The schools are so worried about hurting someone's feelings, germs, not having everyone a winner, making sure all religions are covered, not offending anyone and having every little detail stamped with the school's approval, that there is just a sliver of excitement left for the kids.
I'm a room parent for one of my kids, and a volunteer for another. I looked back at my e-mails from last year's parties as well as this year, and I couldn't believe some of the rules that needed to be followed:
- No Red, Green or Blue drinks (last year Winter party). No mention of Christmas or Hanukkah.
- Every class will have the same craft. Do not allow your craft parent to bring in extra craft supplies
- Only let them color with the crayon colors we leave out for them
- For Halloween, no masks, scary costumes or props
- Snacks need to be inspected by the nurse - drop them off a couple of days before the party (hmm, I'm sure that means there won't be any preservatives in that food)
- You may have one game, but that needs to be approved
- No prizes for winners of games
- If you need to break into groups, divide equally - make sure kids aren't in cliques
- Only do safe and easy games
- No balloons, duct tape, treats or candy can be used as supplies for party activities
- Now go have fun
When my 16 year old was little, I remember making toy trains out of life saver rolls, creating beds for Teddy Grahams out of food and baking bread in the shape of alphabet letters. We had a blast. So did the kids and teachers. The parties were awesome and something they talked about for weeks afterwards. Are we so worried about feelings and germs that we can't let loose for the 45 minutes the school gives us?
I get the whole allergy thing and understand how there needs to be some restrictions in some of the classrooms, but does our creativity have to be that stifled? I can't wait to get the pre-cut, self-adhesive piece of foam crap my son will bring home this year. Make sure their name is on it because every single one will look exactly the same.
Are there any public schools out there that encourage out-of-the-box thinking? I'm so afraid that we've given into the whole groupthink philosophy and are raising a bunch of lemmings that will follow each other off of a cliff. When my son comes home from school today I think I'm going to give him the Crayola box of 64 crayons with the built-in sharpener and tell him to go to town on the walls.