Darling Husband brought this story to my attention the other day, certain that I would want to blog about the obvious idiocy involved. This is just one more story in which schools have come up with some ridiculous policy that defies common sense, and children are paying the price for it. Am I heartless, cold, and without compassion for not being outraged by what happened to these 2 girls (ages 11 and 9)? Not at all. I’m just way beyond being surprised by such stories; in fact, I’ve come to expect them.
My response is simply this: Was no one willing to act like an adult? The closest thing I can find to adult behavior in the incident is that of the girls, who apparently approached teachers looking for relief. Too bad the teachers, who were busy applying their own sunscreen, provided no help to the girls. Are the teachers the villains here? The school administrators? The school’s insurance company? If you read some of the comments responding to the story, the Mom was to blame.
I ask: How many of these stories do we have to hear before we simply say, “Enough!” and follow what common sense tells us? What would it have cost this mom to send her kids to school with little bottles of sunscreen in spite of school policy? What would have been the risk to the teachers to just have the girls hold out their hands and then squeeze a blob of sunscreen into their palms to put on where they needed it? Yes, I’m calling on people to defy authority.
In more crass terms, “Grow a pair!” Are we so afraid of lawsuits that we abandon good sense? What is the worst thing that could have happened if the girls’ mom had sent the kids to school with their own sunscreen? Maybe the girls would have been sent home for having unauthorized “prescription medication.” Or perhaps the teacher who shared sunscreen with students would be suspended. The difference, however, would be that the news headlines proclaim, “Students (or Teachers) Defy School Ban on Sunscreen.” Notice the action word “defy?” Less “Woe is me,” and more, “I’m taking a stand.”
I guess I’m just tired of people complaining about how silly all of these policies are without doing whatever it takes to change things. Why do parents willing give schools so much power? In a battle of wills concerning the well-being of your child, should you the parent win? The news report linked above cautions parents to carefully check each individual policy on sun protection for every daycare, camp, or trip your kid participates in this summer. Sadly, most parents have scrambled to farm out their school-aged kids to multiple “camps” during the summer months to substitute for the babysitting that schools provide. So now they’re supposed to schedule doctor visits to generate permission slips for everything from sunscreen to personal water bottles to insect repellant. Ridiculous. If there will be bugs, pack bug spray. What’s worse: the overspray from Deep Woods Off that some kids might breathe in or the Lyme disease your child contracts from a tick bite?
It’s no wonder I can never get an appointment at our doctor’s office. They are all booked up with parents seeking notes for their kids.
Why do parents put up with this? These are the same people who will make a restaurant server sob with apologies for daring to bring a regular soda instead of diet; or verbally crucify an umpire or coach at the Little League field; or tailgate you for half a mile while waving a vulgar gesture at you for daring to merge in front of them on the interstate. Fear of confrontation doesn’t seem to be the problem.
Inexplicably, though, when the school crafts a policy that defies all common sense, it’s the 11th Commandment. No sunscreen; no peanut butter; only dull, worthless scissors allowed; only plastic cutlery that can’t cut through butter. If the school puts it in the handbook, parents become as docile as lambs.
Today, a bottle of SPF 50; tomorrow, full-size bottle of shampoo at the airport. Oh, wait. Tomorrow…built-in GPS to track your car’s excessive speeds and fuel consumption. What? We already have that? Tomorrow…