I can't keep up with my reading right now. Between books for the summer reading program at the library, my 2 monthly magazines, my daily newspaper, and whatnot, I'm getting behind. I also read lots of articles on-line, especially information that comes to me in daily email blurbs. One email subscription that I have is for parents.com, which I've found to be very useful, and generally, I agree with it. Earlier this week, however, it disappointed me. Parents.com dropped the ball on this one, in my ever so humble parenting opinion.
I as reading an article on anonymous advice, secret tips if you will, from various professionals that parents come into direct contact with--dentists, pediatricians, teachers, and so on. And I have a very specific problem with the "helpful hint" shared by the day care worker. To be clear, though, we are doing our very best to avoid putting our children in group day care (mostly for the reason that I have an issue with). Because of this, I feel like my griping is not hypocritical, and reading this professional's words reminded me that yes, I am definitely that parent.
Specifically, the day care provider focused on "specialness." In other words (and I'm paraphrasing this), don't ask that your child be special; your child should eat what everyone eats, sleep when everyone sleeps, and play when everyone plays. This is all well and good for an adult, but can we really ask toddlers and babies to be on someone else's schedule? I have specific issues with that!
My niece was not allowed to eat eggs from about age 1 or 2 to age 7. And she's supposed to eat what everyone else is eating? Toddlers need different amounts of sleep, but they should all be disciplined enough to be expected to sleep from exactly 1-3 every day, even if they're young enough that they still need 2 naps? We have largely revamped our eating habits, utilizing organic produce as much as possible, limiting fats & sugars, incorporating whole grains, etc., yet my child is expected to eat pretzels and drink some concoction that is 10% juice for snacks because it's cheap and kids like it? We eat fruit or yogurt for snacks and juice is very limited and never a "juice cocktail" let alone fruit punch.
I realize while I'm writing this that it comes across very snobbish and wholier-than-thou. But it's something that is inherently important to us, and it bothers me that people whom I'm entrusting to provide a healthy environment for my child for several hours, M-F are saying "We know better than you what your child needs and what is best for them. Don't be a parent to your child between the hours of 8-5." I get it that it can likely be something of a headache if different parents have different expectations for their child, but they also get paid a whole lot. I feel like a parent should have some latitude with controlling the needs of their child within reason. Parents and day care providers really can work together rather than on separate planes.
I get it that if my kid doesn't eat the pretzels and fruit punch in favor of strawberries and water that there's some level of "I'm different from you" going on, but honestly, is that such a problem? Kids are different; why force them into sameness through things like what they eat? And, I abhor the thought of my kid being fed gross processed foods because they are cheap, easy, and largely lacking nutrients in favor of unnecessary fats. I provide the food for my kid, so how is that a problem? I refuse to be ashamed of being that kind of parent.