TCS Daily

Cali Cupcake Cops

By Andy Kessler - November 2, 2007 12:00 AM

I tried. I really tried. But it took all of a few days with the kids back in school before I ran into the new "policy" that finally pushed me over the edge.

Look, school is hard, starting with no buses. Yeah sure, a good cardio workout in the morning for my massively helmeted and biking boys is just the ticket to put on an attentive face as the day and their teachers drone on. Never mind that their backpacks are heavier than our troops' patrolling the Sunni Triangle. Biking builds character. Or so I've been told. I'm OK with that.

And I've caved on the whole paper plate and plastic cup thing. Classes are now stocked with real plates and cups (donated, of course) and us eco-squirrels take turns bringing home the dirty dishes, washing them and returning them to the class. Gosh, I hope that mother with the pig-tails and hairy legs uses hot water. Don't you dare try to load the plates in supermarket bags, paper or plastic, for your awkward bike ride home. No, no, no. Go online and find the same unbleached burlap sack I found and you'll get the clucks of approval you are after. Yeah sure, second graders make a real mess and the dishes smell worse than a chemistry experiment gone wrong, but I'm OK with that.

"Electrolyte replacing beverages" are highly discouraged. What to do? Well, my kid hates how it tastes, but he kinda stuck out as the only one not ordering organic milk, so free range milk it is. I'm not sure I'm all that thrilled with the lack of antibiotics or the ban on pesticide in the feed, but our dairy promises that no cows were hurt in the production of each half pint container, so I guess I am OK with that too.

My wife and I also considered a hyphenated name, our kids get teased for only having one last name. Instead, we do flashcard exercises until we all can correctly pronounce Christiana Keshwani-Lipschitz.

Did I mention the Penguin and the Peacock? It's the featured book in elementary school this year - some awfully exciting story about the Penguins being bland conformists. Why does everyone pick on penguins? Does the tuxedo look somehow represent repressive values? Anyway, the Peacock with her multicolored appearance isn't accepted at first but then the penguins come around and accept her for what she is, etc. You know the story. Most of the class, who devoured the final Harry Potter book over the summer, is pretty good at rolling their eyes at not so subtle metaphors. Still, I'm OK with this.

The soccer team has its own challenges. One player is egg intolerant, so no omelets at half time I guess. I even came around to the idea of paying a premium to our fees into a scholarship fund so the team can help out some underprivileged kids. Who wouldn't? Never mind that the new kids are all ringers and that I basically paid up so my own son no longer starts and plays a lot less. I'm OK with that; we parents on the sidelines are a lot happier when we win.

But then my feel good mojo all fell apart. A new district and school policy set mandatory guidelines on the nutritional value at class parties and the attenuation of non-nutritional foods. Huh? Our teacher noted in papers sent home on the first day of class that "this year we have decided that birthdays will be celebrated by decorating the desks of students rather than by parent provided snacks." Oh no. My worst fear. The dreaded Cupcake Policy is now in force.

You knew it was coming, but in denial, I figured not in our community. This is a tradition that goes back to at least the '60's, if not before. How can they take away a little sweet snack to make a kid feel special? I mean, all the kids in the class are special, sure, but on your birthday, you want that little edge. I probably wouldn't have made it through school without my mom bringing cupcakes on my birthday. And now, poof, it's disappeared without any discussion, no referendum, no town hall meetings, nothing. It's un-American. I've decided to drive my kids to school in protest. And burn my burlap sack. I may even sneak Gatorade's into backpacks. Worse yet, my son has a birthday coming up. Well, maybe he can write about his cupcake-less devastating experience on his college application. I guess I'd be OK with that.


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