Monday, 11 February 2013

Would You Like Some Shame with That Humiliation?

or When Good Ideas Go Bad!

Someone at my kid's school came up with the bright idea to have "waste-free Wednesdays"! The concept goes something like this ... on Wednesdays, the kids try to bring in a lunch without any excess packaging. In theory, I support this. Honestly, though, I'm not entirely convinced that "saving the planet" is such a great idea. I mean, who are we to assume that depleting the world's resources and hastening our demise isn't actually part of the master plan? Putting that debate aside, however, since I've already gone to the effort of having children, I am committed to doing my bit to save the planet ... or, at least to save the planet from my children, if not for them!

When it comes to school lunches, my offspring would rather go hungry than eat the nutritious, healthy snacks parents are supposed to provide! So, in order to keep the peace and make life easier, school lunches originating from our house contain a healthy variety of processed food snacks. Waste-free Wednesdays haven't changed the content, but rather the presentation of our lunches. This involves removing snacks from their packaging and re-gifting them into lovely snap-lock containers. I thought we were doing pretty well with our little subterfuge, until my youngest informed my husband that for two weeks in a row his name failed to make the chalk board reserved for those whose lunches were completely "waste-free". Apparently his drink popper let the team down. As Maxwell Smart would say "Missed it by that much"! 

I was immediately reminded of my own school days of "public shaming". Specifically, I am referring to the dreaded "snowman"! Our class spent days constructing beautiful snowmen out of coloured paper and cotton balls. I wasn't a particularly great student, but I loved art. I was proud as punch over my snowman. Unfortunately, my warm glow lasted about as long as a snowman on a hot summer's day. The teacher informed us that we had just made "grammar snowmen". Here's the punchline ... every time we made a mistake with our grammar, we had to remove an item from our snowman. Cute, right? You get the idea. Our incompetence would lead to the subsequent dismemberment and death of Frosty, and everyone in the class would be witness to the crime! Needless to say my snowman suffered a quick and ignoble death. I only hope it was painless for him, because it certainly wasn't for me. The snowman exercise didn't help me with my grammar, and neither did it bolster my low self-esteem. I'm not too fond of snowmen either!

What annoys me most is that I chose my children's school in the first place because I didn't want them to suffer the same ongoing humiliation I endured at school. Generally, my kids have had a much better experience. Their school gets it right, most of the time. 

This need to be "seen to be doing the right thing" doesn't just happen in schools. Something I've noticed lately is how many theories are espoused on the basis of being "good for us"!! I think we need to be careful not to lose perspective. There should be a balance in life. Otherwise, the "fun-free fuckwits" will end up ruling the world!

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