May 13, 2011

Where Have All The Parents Gone?

I did a really stupid thing yesterday.
I read the newspaper.

I have been purposefully avoiding the newspaper, Internet news, talk radio... all in a vain effort to bypass stories about stupid things that people do.

But, it was a cold, rainy, dreary day outside in Colorado yesterday. There was a warm fire blazing in the fireplace. The coziness afforded by the fire and sofa were too much for me. I snuggled myself into the sofa, picked up the newspaper that lay sprawled on the floor (due to my children picking it apart for the comics and crosswords) and started to read... all against my better judgement.
It didn't take long for me to find an article that made my eyes want to bleed....

This news article came from the Associated Press and discussed a research project that is in progress at five elementary schools in San Antonio, Texas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding this project (to the tune of 2 million dollars) to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity by improving the eating habits of children. A camera placed in the school cafeteria takes pictures of the kids lunch trays before they sit down to eat, and then another picture is taken of what food remains on their tray when they are done eating. A computer program then calculates the number of calories consumed per meal of that child.
And parents are good with this? Apparently so, because the article states that about 90% of parents gave permission for their children to participate in the study.

My elementary school cafeteria certainly didn't need any fancy cameras.
In the fifth grade, I had a teacher who ruled with an iron fist. In the cafeteria, it was well known that you didn't mess around with her by not eating your lunch. (Of which, we weren't given a million choices of what to eat. The menu for the week was posted and if you didn't like it, then you could pack your own sack lunch.) One of my friends tried stuffing her peas into her empty milk carton one day. Our teacher made her open the milk carton up and eat those saturated peas. It didn't seem like anyone had a problem with finishing their vegetables after that episode. She was a tough cookie, but she also made it clear to us that she was going to make sure we ate a healthy lunch. Never mind the fact that her lunches consisted of a banana and a cup of coffee. The sixth grade teacher was even better... he always packed zingers or ding dongs for his lunch! But, I digress....

There used to be a time when children understood authority. Teachers were in charge in the school. Parents were in charge at home. Parents used to be at home, taking care of their own children and setting an example, even with relatively simple things like a healthy dinner menu.
Our nation does have a big problem with childhood obesity. But, it's something that our government can't fix. It has to come from the home. From the parents. And, if parents aren't around to do their job, it doesn't really matter how much teachers try to do at school or how much money our government pours into studies... it simply isn't going to fix the main problem. We need parents to start acting like parents again.
Just my humble opinion.

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