When I bring Tornado to kindy (where he seems to be much less of a tornado boy from what I hear, go figure..) I always glance briefly at the many banners and signs that are up on the doors, walls, windows and any available surface all over the place. There are “101 ways to encourage a child”, “be kind, make friends, have fun” and other admittedly noble reminders of how ideally teachers, parents and children should interact to thrive in this environment. Obviously, there are also lots and lots of artwork and crafts by the kids, and even some foreign language signs, some of which I must really think to have them correct some time… (‘cold storage room’ is just not the same as ‘fridge’, even in German).
Already at the main door, one of the banners says “Celebrate Your Uniqueness!” with the obligatory collection of multicultural kids smiling at you. So there.
Now let’s talk about lunchtime. I was a bit disappointed really, to understand that there is no canteen in kindy, and that even in school there will probably be more a tuck shop solution, meaning that kids bring their lunch boxes with cold food everyday. Having grown up with school only until noon (at least for primary school) and after living in France, where the bad canteens are basically what makes every child appreciate ‘la cuisine de maman’, I just assumed there would be cooking involved in full day care.
Well, there is not, so like any other mom in Oz, I am trying to find a balance between a healthy sandwich, fruit, yogurt, and some sort of treat for my boy. We bought a Ninja Turtles Lunchbox (his choice) and I am boxing and chopping and most importantly, varying the food as best as I can. Did I mention he goes only 2 days a week? It actually already takes a lot out of me on those days.
So I was thrilled when one morning he asked me to put ‘stinky cheese’ on his sandwich! Great! My little gourmand is making choices, and I guess my inner Eurosnob rejoices over the fact that at 4 he enjoys cheese that many adults are too scared to even try. Our ‘stinky cheese’ is only a rich Danish Blue, but I can’t get much here and it’s our yummy little treat while the rest of the family is having mild ‘Tasty’ or ‘Colby’.
That day in the car, I am asking my usual questions, never very fruitful – “How was your day? Did you have fun? Who did you play with ?” etc and after the usual teenage style short answers to everything, when I ask about lunch, he says ” The teacher said my sandwich smelled like vomit!”
I almost stopped the car. What the .. ??
Talk about multicultural experiences at kindy, yeah ?
Of course, I asked them about it the next time I brought him in. They denied the whole story and came up with something about some other child who had been sick – right at lunchtime! Oh, it was bad! – and then there must have been some confusion and maybe another child said something about the smelly cheese to Tornado ? blabla..(Nervous laugh)
Yeah, I don’t think so. See, my son only just discovers the concept of lying, and he’s not yet very good at it. He wouldn’t have told me anything like that unless it happened.
I sort of laughed it off, but I am a bit…yeah, stinky about it still. It’s not like a blue cheese is this extremely exotic food, is it ? But then, there wouldn’t be used to much variation, because there really isn’t much multi-culti going on at our kindy. Our shiny new suburb just doesn’t have many ethnicities. There might be, at the most, a family of ABCs (Aussie born Chinese), somewhere I have seen two African kids, and there is one Aboriginal child around too. Not very representative for this country really. Not yet.
But what when one day some Asian kid brings in some really spicy homemade food that would certainly look very different – and smell ! – than what we get served in the take-aways that are already well installed in the neighbourhood by the way. Because we all like a bit of exotic food from the box at times, don’t we ?
I am just thinking that the kindy teachers need to re-study their educational banners a bit more, if they can’t even handle some stinky cheese.