Have you ever considered the unspoken messages which adults in a position of power are giving to your child? Just because your child’s principal (or another authority figure) has an opinion, doesn’t mean it’s always the right one.
As a mother and a survivor of a childhood predator there is something I want to bring to the attention of all parents, caregivers and anyone who has the pleasure of interacting with a child. If a little one trusts you enough to tell you something which they consider to be a big deal, PLEASE, don’t disregard what they are telling you.
Of course, some of their scenarios might sound incredibly far fetched, but surely as adults, we are capable of investigating a situation without making a child feel as though they are being interrogated, or worse – that they aren’t being believed.
We don’t need to devalue what they are saying, feeling or experiencing in order for us to come to some sort of understanding of the situation for ourselves either!
When a child is vulnerable and is speaking to us completely transparently about something they’ve gone through – and then we discredit them or tell them directly that what they’ve experienced isn’t true it can be incredibly destructive!
It has the potential of shutting a child down. Of stopping them from sharing future important experiences in their lives. Forcing them to stay silent when they really should speak up for fear of not being believed again!
What’s the incentive to continue remaining transparent if the adults in their lives never listen nor take them seriously?
What The School Principal Said
“I spoke to the lady at the canteen and she informed me that your daughter had a piece of cardboard in her food, it wasn’t metal,” the school principal told me over the phone.
He was following up on an email I had sent him regarding a lunch order that my child had found a piece of metal in. And the neglectful way the situation had been dealt with. He most certainly did not like me using the word neglect!
Apparently it had to be cardboard, because if it were metal, there would have been an entirely different procedure to follow. The ordeal would have required to be properly documented in the incident book – and obviously that didn’t happen.
“Regardless of what the canteen lady now claims it was, why was the food not replaced- or at the very least taken off my child and discarded?” I asked.
Turns out that cardboard in food isn’t actually a problem whatsoever. And the principal was satisfied that the canteen lady said that a lot of the meal had already been eaten so there was no real harm in getting my daughter to finish consuming all of it. In fact, the principal would have done the same.
Just A Long String Of Excuses
Listening to these excuses made an accident seem all the more sinister! Initially, I was merely just alerting the school to the oversight so that other children didn’t have to be put through the same ordeal. But the more this man defended the situation, the worse I felt!
I drew the line when he wanted to speak to my daughter and explain to her that it was only cardboard and really she had nothing to worry about! Why didn’t the lady at the canteen do this on the spot? At no stage did she tell my daughter no to worry. In fact she told her that there were no pieces of metal like that at the canteen!
Besides, if this were truly the case, when she showed her classroom teacher the metal, why was her teacher alarmed!?
There was no chance in hell that I wanted my daughter to be put through this nonsense! She is almost nine years old and she knows the difference between biting into metal opposed to biting into cardboard.
I would have been able to accept the school’s pathetic excuse if they had said that the canteen lady ‘thought’ it was cardboard- but not to the extent that he was going to try to force me to believe that this was the case, even without speaking to my daughter’s classroom teacher for clarity.
We Didn’t Order Butter Cardboard
Even so, even if it were cardboard, why wasn’t the food thrown away? We didn’t order butter cardboard, we paid for butter chicken! Would either the canteen lady or the principal be satisfied if this was what they experienced at a restaurant?
Why are we even bothering to teach children excellent hand hygiene if we want to feed them contaminated lunch orders!
I Wasn’t Letting This Go!
It’s because of this utter tomfoolery that I took this matter to the Board of Education. It really didn’t have to go that far at all. However, clearly there is no set of guidelines at the school for what to do if a foreign object is found in a lunch order.
Added to this, before my daughter gets told that what she experienced wasn’t actually the truth – by a person in a huge position of power, I need someone with experience to ensure that the matter is dealt with professionally for the sake of my child.
There is a MASSIVE difference between letting a little one know that an adult ‘thought’ the foreign object was actually cardboard and attempting to make them believe that they were wrong, and what they experienced wasn’t factual.
The entire ordeal is reminiscent of the way that child sex offenders attempt to manipulate a child into questioning their beliefs, altering facts and ultimately making a little one not only feel unsafe but unsure of themselves. And if I sit back and allow her to be told that what she experienced is perfectly acceptable or her recollection is inaccurate – when most adults would not want to endure such negligence, then why would she ever feel confident reporting things in the future, no matter how big or small.
Trust, no matter what age, is the foundation of most relationships. And although my trust in placing lunch orders at school has most certainly been destroyed, I don’t want my daughter to feel as though she can’t trust adults with her problems.
When dealing with such young and influential minds, it’s of the utmost importance to make them feel safe, secure and believed.
Regardless of what the foreign object was, it wasn’t food, and it most certainly should not have been in her meal. It’s the way in which we as adults handle situations like these that can either form part of a valuable learning experience or a platform for neglect. The choice is ours.
Children are far from stupid, despite their young age. In fact, I’d say they expose our own ignorance.
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