Last Wednesday night my daughter’s school held a gala. I bid for and won several gift certificates in the silent auction. I went to the school yesterday to settle up and bring home my gifts. (Free pizzas, a baby class certificate, a free adult dance class.) I got there during lunch, so the woman who works in the office said I could go up and say hi to Big Girl.
Little Girl and I got to the dimly-lit room — they eat in darkened silence for the first ten minutes to encourage good nutrition — and I spotted my daughter. She was seated next to That Girl, the dreaded class bully who pushed my daughter down and got herself suspended. That Girl, I noticed, was fishing her sandwich out of a Wonder Bread plastic container. She didn’t even give me a chance to say hello to Big Girl before she started in on me. It seems Big Girl’s organic whole wheat bread was not satisfactory. I needed to buy Wonder Bread since it’s the only good bread out there. (She obviously doesn’t know that Wonder Bread’s fourth ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, or that I don’t take parenting advice from 7-year-olds.) I was only there for a few moments but That Girl kept up her marketing ploy the entire time. This child who has caused me so much grief had decided I needed an education in school lunches, too.
I deflected her comments and left quickly so I wouldn’t disturb the kids, but I was very uncomfortable with the exchange. I wasn’t sure why. I was buckling Little Girl into the carseat when it hit me, though. THAT must be why my normally good eater had recently started bringing home full lunchboxes. It made sense. That Girl was making my daughter feel like her lunches were all wrong. No wonder Big Girl wasn’t drinking from her reusable water bottle. That Girl had a pouch of Capri Sun — and not the one that is water and juice. Nope, the high fructose corn syrup-laden one. Water probably isn’t cool. And forget Big Girl’s yummy grain-filled bars and fresh fruit snacks. How could they hold a candle to what That Girl has in her lunch box? What a nightmare. Of all the kids who were there eating good, healthy things (in the few minutes I was in the room I noticed one kid had a bowl full of tuna and a sack of cantaloupe while another girl had rice and what looked like sushi in her box), my kid has to sit next to the one who eats like garbage and thinks, for some wacky reason, that her parents are the only ones making the right choices. And talks about it. Loudly.
I was barely home a few minutes before I found myself blasting off an email to the teachers, CCing the school’s director. As often as I have sworn in the past that I would let Big Girl be and let her make her own mistakes, this time I made an executive decision to get involved. I wrote to the teachers telling them that Big Girl is not to sit at the same table with That Girl during lunch. I can’t tell her who she can play with during free time but, for her health, I can say who she can sit next to when food is involved. My husband is on board, too.
I know, I know, it might seem like I am overreacting, but my kid is thin to begin with. I don’t need this little girl confusing her or making her feel bad about eating. The world will take care of that in time. For now, for right now, I want her to eat and feel good about it. Wonder Bread — and That Girl — be damned.
Did I do the right thing? Am I overreacting? What would you have done?