Today, while I was dropping my 4-year-old son off at school, his teacher came over and took me to one side. "Please can I have a few words with you?" Goodness me, I felt like I'd been caught drawing on my desk again when I was 9!
The problem? Apparently he is not sitting still at storytime, preferring to jump up and down or play with nearby toys. So, just a typical 4-year-old boy then? "Perhaps he is just tired" she added. Well, yes perhaps he is. He has only been full-time at school for 3 weeks after all.
The teacher then continued: "He's also not eating his snack." Well, I am not surprised. I am asked to send my son to school with a piece of fruit and a drink everyday, for him to have at 10 am. If he has eaten a good breakfast at 7.45 am he is not going to be hungry enough for a piece of fruit! He's also not eating his fruit at lunchtime, something else that hasn't gone unnoticed.
School lunchboxes are very heavily regulated. When I returned my son's school meals letter to say he would be having a packed lunch everyday I received in turn three leaflets (one from the Government, one from our local council, and one from the school) informing me what a 'correct' lunch should contain.
I'm lucky if I can get my son to eat a ham sandwich at lunchtime. Now, I have to ensure he also has a yoghurt or some cheese to fulfil the dairy requirement, two portions of fruit of veg, and a drink. (I actually measured the juice I was sending him to school with today: 1 pint of cordial!) Unsurprisingly, he is not eating much of his lunch or drinking his juice, leading to a lot of wasted food.
Maybe one of these Government advisors who dream up guidelines should think about wider issues before issuing their advice. For example, reducing food waste by not insisting on so many 'portions', and cutting obesity by not forcing our children to eat so much during the day!
I'm being lighthearted and flippant about this issue, but I'm sure others could give my points much more considered thought.