I don’t normally blog from school. So, school district o’mine, if you are watching my computer usage via satellite connection or whatever other scary implementation of technology you have described to scare all teachers straight in using technology only for school use…well, I apologize. I am going to be running around crazy tonight, and I really wanted to share this.
We serve breakfast at my school. Every kid gets to eat, regardless of need, which is really great. Obviously I don’t need to tell any of you other food bloggers out there how important breakfast is to start the day, and that especially true for kids in school. As I told one the other morning, “If our stomach isn’t full, our brains won’t operate.” Although I’m sure I probably said something cutesy like “Full stomach equals happy brain.”
This morning at breakfast, however, I noticed a gaggle of my favorite little fourth grade girls, chattering away and laughing over…Skittles? Yes, Skittles. They said, “Oh Ms. Pember, look what she has for breakfast!” Clearly they knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing, and we got into a mini-discussion about how fast that sugar would hit and how they would crash later on in the morning.
That wasn’t what broke my heart though. [I'm sure I've probably eaten that much sugar for breakfast in a bowl of Lucky Charms before, so who am I to judge as long as she's not doing it every single day?]
What broke my heart was the little girl (and I do mean little, as in teeny-tiny, could put her in your pocket, as well as young) looked at me and said, with absolute certainty and determination, “I’m on a diet.”
“WHAT?” I replied. “WHY?”
“Yeah…” said the other girls, “you are so skinny!”
“I don’t know. I just put myself on a diet,” she stated, “and I’m only drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables.”
I told her that yes, water and fruits and veggies are good for you and delicious and important to eat, but without other foods your body can’t keep working!
“And,” I said,”you are beautiful. Don’t forget that.”
I wish I could say I really changed her mind. I don’t think I did. I’m pretty sure she’s still going to go through what all young girls seem to go through regarding how they look and what they should or should not eat. It’s such a fine line. How do you help children (girls especially) eat right and eat well without giving them some sort of complex and/or causing them to overeat? You encourage eating a lot and you risk overindulgence. You discourage eating and you fear you are going to set them up for mental confusion.
I might not have changed her mind completely. But I will say that when I looked over 10 minutes later, she was happily reaching for a piece of sausage and munching on a bowl of Cheerios.