Last night Mrs DW and I went to the indoctrination night for my 3 and 1/2 year old daughter's preschool.The evening opened with a benediction and then a prayer where we were supposed to join in with the Minister in beseeching the Lord that we don't screw up our kids by ever taking them to a "secular" preschool. I tell you now that man put more stink on the word "secular" than I have ever heard put on any word before. Next we were subjected to a 5 minute marketing presentation by a christian book seller. Seems some books is christian and some ain't, and it's real clear she not only sells the good stuff, but that she and the teachers are going to do every thing they can to bring peer group pressure to bear so that any kid not possessing the good stuff will be ostrasized. I was fascinated. With the Lord and the school as marketing partners I suspect she is going to do all right. I started to comment to Mrs. DW about the appropriateness of this type of marketing to young minds when I got the stare. Married guys know that stare. I was frightened.Then we moved on to the most remarkable part of the evening, at least in my mind. The director gets up, trundles up to the podium while the baby Elephant Walk song plays in my head, she opens her maw and tells us they have a new student. His name is Melvin. (now normally I would have something to say about parents naming their kid Melvin but with my wife having already used the stare I don't want to push it.) It seems Melvin has peanut allergies. Not just regular peanut allergies, but abnormally sensitive ones. This means, she says, that in addition to not being allowed to bring peanuts, peanut butter, or anything containing peanuts into the school, like say a snickers bar, (every one knows those are packed full of peanuts), we will have to check every product we use on our child for peanut based ingredients. Seems some sunscreens contain the stuff, some popcorns are popped with peanut oil, yada, yada, yada.About here I am busting. Clearly we have some obligations to our fellow man, but I am fairly certain it doesn't extend to checking whether our chld's lip balm or sun screen is thickened with hydrogenated peanut oil. If the kid is that sensitive maybe his parents ought to find other accomodations. It was right then that I am snapped out of my revery when the Director goes on to say that it would be good if we did not allow our kids to even eat peanut butter within a half an hour before going to school.I solicit your thoughts. Is it reasonable that a parent of a child so hypersensitive to a common substance and product to place that child in a setting where scores of other families will now be expected to examine the minutia of their lives to protect that child?Is it acceptable to use the schools to coercively market to kids and their families?
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