***Disclaimer: This is not a funny post. It is certainly not meant to offend. I'm just trying to digest this because I've never encountered anything like this before. ***
Ryan's 8th Birthday on Friday. As the oldest of three kids (all who have birthdays in a 5-week span) it's not his turn for a party this year. His class celebration is pretty much all he has going for him.
Last year, he didn't go to school on his birthday. He was dressed and ready to go when we decided that he was too sick. So his awesome father went to pick up his favorite sprinkle donuts that we already ordered for the class, brought them home to his sick kid and made him a "donut tower" before bringing the remainder to his office for the vultures. We re-ordered the donuts the next week and Ryan was happy.
Here's a photo. Yes, my guys match the kitchen.
This year, I sent his teacher (who I like very much) an email just to make sure she was OK with me sending them again. Really, just from a logistical standpoint.
Her reply: I think that would be wonderful! Make sure we use the words "shared snack" as there are some children who do not celebrate birthdays.
Wait. What? My kid can't call it his "Birthday"? "Shared Snack?"
As I write this, I'm still trying to wrap my head around something which goes against everything I've ever known. Here are my thoughts:
I consider myself to be pretty politically correct. I usually err on the side of caution. I never talk about politics in any company. I teach my children to respect all people regardless of their race or religion, because I truly do. I like (for the most part) that my child goes to public school where he is exposed to cultures that are different than ours. That's the reality of our society.
I completely, 100% understand not celebrating religious holidays in class. And frankly, I tend to agree with this. It is public school. I understand not celebrating Halloween because of the whole "demon" thing. I participated (with maybe a slight an eye-roll) in the "Dress Up As Your Favorite Storybook Character" parade held on October 31. I have no problem with him making snowflake and snowman crafts in the winter instead of Santa Claus and Christmas trees. I totally get it. Public school is not a place to be imposing religious or cultural beliefs on others.
But I have to draw the line at birthdays. It's not a religious belief TO celebrate birthdays. It's a religious belief NOT to celebrate them. Therefore, I think that another person's religious belief is being imposed on my son and his classmates by glossing over the fact that these donuts are for a birthday. I'm not suggesting that NOT celebrating birthdays is right or wrong. I'm just saying that OUR family does. And so to the vast majority of families I know.
HE'S 8! He gets one big day a year. Everyone has a birthday. Nobody is excluded from being born.
I took it to Facebook (of course) and my friend told me that when her mom taught school they had to be sensitive to a particular religion that she named - which I'm not even going to write here because that's not the point. And there is probably more than one culture or faith that doesn't celebrate.
And part of me is on the fence about this. We all have the right to believe what we want. But I feel that if anyone is opposed to celebrating a non-religious occasion that is commonplace in our society, their child should respectfully decline to participate, not keep an entire class from celebrating what the donuts are REALLY for. Did I happen to mention it's widely celebrated and non-religious?
Several of my friends mentioned that they remember children of one particular faith having to leave the classroom whenever there was a celebration. I hurt for any child that is excluded from anything for ANY reason. I hate the thought of any child being left out. But that isn't my decision, it's the decision of their parents.
I don't like that my kid has to put on a facade and pretend that it's just a coincidence that he's bringing in sprinkle donuts on Sept. 10 which just happens to be the day he was born? Fancy that.
And yes, I'm splitting hairs here, but is "faking it" really what we want to be teaching our kids. "OK, Ryan we know that these are really your Birthday Donuts, but we're just going to call them 'shared snacks'." Wink, wink.
I also feel bad for his teacher. Yes, she could have just told me "no." It has to be awkward to explain this to parents. She was very professional about it and for this reason I agreed and did not give her a hard time. I'm sure you can imagine how much I wanted to deliver a snarky comeback. I also understand that not saying "Happy Birthday" makes it easier for her to coordinate her whole class and I think she completely deserves that.
My guess is that there IS a particular child in his class that this applies to as I've never encountered it in his last 2 years of public school or at the daycare where the little kids go. I don't think this is a school district policy.
So on Friday, my kid will be toting in his "shared snack." I'm guessing there will be no singing either. And I feel bad for him.
What do you think?
***I'm leaving comments open, but I'll delete anything I think is too intense. Please be gentle and feel free to tell me if I'm totally out of line, just be nice about it.***