I can’t say with confidence that I used to be cool or popular, but I think I can say that I used to be fun. I didn’t sweat the small stuff or take things really serious, or too seriously, or seriously at all… maybe. And when I thought about being a parent one day, I always pictured myself as the “fun one.” I wanted to teach my kids life lessons with sarcasm and engineered circumstances like on Full House. My catch phrases were going to be “theoretically they’ll be fine” or “they should live through this.” But the reality is really quite different. As a father of beautiful little girls under the age of seven I have become the town from Footloose.
The NO FUN ZONE that was the town from the 1984 classic musical film Footloose, has relocated to a ten foot mobile radius around my person. My catch phrases are not cool. Very often I find myself saying,
“We don’t shake our booties in H&M.”
“Yes, we’re going to Culver’s. Yes, I’m going to eat your ice cream.”
“Don’t you be sassy with me girlfriend.”
“No, you can’t wear your sunglasses at night.”
“We don’t shake our booties at school.”
“You can only pick two accessories to wear.”
“Please don’t sing with your headphones on.”
“Please don’t sing ‘Let It Go‘ at the top of your lungs on the swings.”
“We don’t shake our booties at church.”
“You can ask Santa for makeup but you can’t wear it till you’re 18.”
“I don’t care what your friend Elsa does cause her parents aren’t going to keep her off the pole… no, I’m not going to explain that.”
So in honor of my new found identity I am starting a recurring segment on #MischiefMonday called “I Am The Town From Footloose.” The first installment of this rant is aimed and my child’s school.
Vol 1: Sugar-Free
Let me just begin by saying that I know I’m a bad parent. I’m working on it, but it would be great if I could get some commonsense support from society. When our foster girls came to us their teeth could be described as… “lacking in upkeep” the same way Chernobyl could be described as “an industrial accident.” The older one’s front teeth were so worn away by crib rot and sugar decay that they looked like they had been filed. The younger one has a grin full of silver caps and crowns that would make any rapper jealous. Since they have lived with us they have each had a number of cavities filled.
So every time I take them to the dentist I have to get a lecture about soda, sugar and oral hygiene. I have now begun these visits by reminding the dentist that I am their FOSTER father. My children go visit their mother once per week (totally beyond my control) and ALL SHE FEEDS THEM IS SODA AND SUGAR. But once per week wouldn’t kill them. At home we eat fruits, vegetables and real food. At home the minions only drink water for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So lets talk for a moment about where they are really getting their sugar: School.
You’re killing me public school! I fought for you! I told my brother he was sheltering his kids in private school. I openly make fun of homeschool kids and their parents and I make fun of homeschool parents in front of their kids… because they’re homeschooled and they’ll forgive me and be nice anyway. Even though I’m not a fan of common core I kept saying there is nothing wrong with sending your kids to public school. Now I know what is wrong… the sugar.
I get notes sent home about my daughters that describe them as fidgety, hyper, has a hard time sitting still, etc. So I ask them about their day. Well, for breakfast they served us french toast sticks in syrup and we got to pick between chocolate milk or strawberry milk. Then we did a good job staying in line so we all got behavior bucks we can spend on candy that we can consume immediately in class. Then it was Julie’s birthday so her mom brought cupcakes and soda.
Tim has a peanut allergy so she just brought chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting with chocolate pieces of candy on top. Then we went to lunch and I drank my chocolate milk and ate my crustable and my brownie but we only get 20 minutes to eat (and I’m 6) so I threw away my salad and green beans. I thought I was going to go hungry but luckily we had a complement party because the music teacher tolerated us for 20 whole minutes so we went back to our class and watched a short movie and ate popcorn with M&M’s in it. Now I’m driving home with you, Dad… can I have a snack?
No, daughter of mine. You can’t have a snack or sugar or gum or any fun because now you reside in the ten foot radius of “I AM THE TOWN FROM FOOTLOOSE.” There is no dancing and no carousing and NO CUPCAKES! And since your school decided to spend all your learning time jacking you up on sugar, Daddy has to be mean and heartless and even though Daddy is mean and heartless he is still going to get a lecture from your dentist. At this point I’m actually considering recording the next lecture from the dentist and forcing all your teachers to listen to it. I mean if I have to… why shouldn’t they?
I vaguely remember something in the news about Mrs. Obama making it her mission that kids have to put one vegetable on their tray per day before they throw it in the trash (because they’re kids). Sure a kid has to have a vegetable on their plate next to fries, chips, Twinkies and burgers, but no one makes them actually eat the vegetables. And yes I could pack my kid’s lunch, but who has time to do that everyday? Homeschool moms? I have a better idea. My kids don’t eat junk at home. You know why? I don’t put it on their plate next to carrots and tell them it is their decision. Why would I?
They are children. I put water in their cup and real food on their plate and if they don’t eat it then they go hungry. Why is this happening at school? Are there kids who are allergic to celery? Why is every reward for good behavior sugar?
So next time my kid is annoying you because she can’t sit still, maybe do us all a favor (you, me, her, the dentist) and take a tip from THE TOWN FROM FOOTLOOSE… think about investing in some raisins. They are nature’s candy.