Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 examples of disrespect

I will use Headstart as the example, although similar (or the exact same) things have happened through other service providers.
I assume this is a low income thing - you are treated disrespectfully in these ways because you are presumed low income (a correct technical assumption for us, but not the same, I don't think as culturally low income).

Example 1:
Our child comes home smelling like sunblock. This is the first we knew about sunblock use at our child's preschool. In our past experience, we would have received a note home for us to sign giving permission to use a certain brand (likely organic and "all natural") of sunblock on our child. Not at Headstart. Kids are sunblocked up with knows what, without our consent.

Example 2:
Our child is provided breakfast, lunch, and snack. The food could be worse. But ours is better. By far. But we bite our tongue, and minimize the fuss we want to make over the food choices (graham crackers and juice for snack anyone?), food sources (what's seasonal? what's organic? what's local? what are these questions?!), and food preparation (the person who cooks the food smokes regularly in her car and does not pre-wash her hands). At one point, we asked if Child F. could be limited to one serving. She was gaining weight very quickly (that's what happens when you are not fed adequately and then suddenly a buffet appears) and we knew we would prefer to fill her at home with whole foods. We were told that the policy is for every child to be allowed at least seconds (the children serve themselves so choose their own portions) because for many children this is the only food they get all day. Apparently the policy is rigid. We didn't talk about perhaps sending Child F.'s food home with another child. We've never been asked for input on the menu choices.

Example 3
Twice we have received notice of a parent-teacher conference days before the conference. The first time, we were told when the conference would be and that it would be happening at our house. Um, okay. Thanks for respecting me with a CHOICE. The second time, our child missed the day the notice was sent home and I was called an hour ahead of our conference time with apologies and stating we could reschedule. No, that's fine, we can do this. Oh, and this time it's at the school.

The assumption that one can put sunscreen on a kid with who knows what chemicals in it. The assumption that any food is better than no food (which I would concur with, but you can't tell me you can't do better - grow a garden at the school! That's a start!). The assumption that parents are sitting around with nothing on their schedules available at a moments notice for a meeting.
This all feels completely disrespectful. Except no one says anything (I'm guessing). Because they don't know? Because they are so beat down? Because there are bigger issues in life?

It's not hard: think ... Would I like it if someone did this to me?

Would I like it if someone made the choice to put a cream on your kid?
Would I like it if someone fed your child substandard food and insisted they have access to all they wanted?
Would I like it if someone sent me a note informing me of a meeting time without any input from me ... and worse, only sent the letter giving me minimal time to rearrange my schedule?


Bummed Out Too said...

I am in exactly the same situation in rural Mississippi. It just seems that with all our technological advances in this country, high speed internet should be available to everyone. To make matters worse, a half mile in either direction the residents have cable or AT&T DSL. It feels as if I live in the Bermuda Triangle of high speed internet. I have no solutions :( Just a lot of venting....

lovermont said...

Ugh! To have neighbors SO close who are hooked up is crazy-making. Hopefully you're good friends and can steal their internet at a whim - still not as helpful (by far!) as being home with high speed.
We're asking around for T1 quotes. It's pricey - super pricey - but we might just do it!

Ariana said...

1- Yes, I would love it if my child's teacher was thoughtful and caring enough to put sunscreen on my child, preventing a sunburn on her pale skin. Roberta had a painful and blistering sunburn a few weeks ago that could have been easily prevented if I had remembered to put some sunscreen on her. Granted, she was under my care at the time, and subject to my own forgetful negligence. If she had been under a teacher's care? I would be *grateful* that the teacher had thought ahead and was concerned enough about her well-being to take that measure.

2- Yes, I would be pleased that my children were fed, and fed generously, regardless of whether that food met some arbitrary standard of purity. You are complaining about graham crackers? Really?

3- I would be annoyed at the scheduling, yes.

Only one of these three situations actually portrays disrespect. The other two reflect your judgmental attitudes (substandard food? sunblock containing who knows what?) toward the evidence of someone's kindnesses to your children.

We have been friends for 6 years now, though nearly half that time has been long-distance and we have not had much contact lately. Despite our distance, I hope you can discern the friendly intent behind this comment.

lovermont said...

Thank you for the reminder to spin it to the positive. I think fostering feels so out of control (I'm frustrated that the baby is fed sweet food, for example, at visits - but it's not up to me), that any little thing adds up. So I'm frustrated when someone is putting sunblock on without asking - not to say we don't put nonorganic sunblock on - we do - it was just such a stark difference from our experience with a private preschool that caters to a different population. So it felt condescending and presumptuous.
YES! I'm definitely complaining about graham crackers. I think graham crackers with peanut butter - absolutely okay. It's when it's graham crackers and juice (carb/sugar loading) and it's called snack that I feel frustrated. And yes, I'm annoyed to be in a position where I HAVE to send this kid to this preschool and she is a kid with food issues (due to neglect) and has no "off-switch" for feeding so was gaining weight alarmingly fast, now that it was available. AND it's food that is not as good as the food we woudl be serving her at home.

But I can see the kindness spin, the positive intent.