Cheese is pretty bad for people, but who could’ve thought this bad? Behold the latest absurdity in the age of the food allergies. Faith Murray, rebellious toddler, has been issued a three day suspension from her daycare because she was caught orange-handed attempting to smuggle in a delicious cheese sandwich.
Two-year-old Faith was about to begin another day of happy socializing at her daycare, the Centre de l’enfant aux 4 Vents in Ottawa, when an eagle-eyed teacher noticed a small plastic baggie containing contraband stuffed in her pocket. The contraband in question: one cheese sandwich. The punishment: three days in solitary confinement. That smell wafting in the air – no, not Gouda – is the smell of sweet, sweet justice.
The pint-sized-perpetrator’s father, Randy Murray, said he knew his daughter had the sandwich in the car, but didn’t realize she had taken it with her into class. After his daughter was caught committing the crime, a teacher took the sandwich and handed it back to him. No harm, no foul? not so fast. “The next thing you know, I’m told we’re suspended,” said Murray.
“I thought they were actually tongue-in-cheek making a joke,” Murray said. But this is no laughing matter. More and more schools have been forced to compile lists of banned food as intense allergies have shifted from a rarity in student populations to being the norm. Nut allergies can be especially life-threatening, and so many schools have decided to enforce strict “no outside food” policies as a result.
It is possible that the cheese sandwich came in contact with peanut butter, and daycare director Deb Ducharme says, “We can’t take that chance.” Ducharme’s comments seem fair enough, the outrage comes from the lack of reason employed in the situation. It’s impossible to say that malice was somehow involved in the toddler’s decision to take the cheese sandwich into the daycare with her. Murray also had no intention of turning his daughter into a cheese-smuggler. A simple, everyday mistake happened, but rationality has been trumped by policy, which happens all too often. “It just seems a little harsh,” Murray said. Harsh indeed.
What kind of a punishment is a suspension anyways, especially for a two-year-old? Does anyone actually think there is a lesson to be learned here for the toddler? Instead, dad is forced to miss work to take care of his daughter, and she misses out on learning and social experiences that any teacher would testify is vital to proper early-childhood development. “Carrying out these sanctions is certainly not something that we take lightly,” Ducharme said, noting that some children have been suspended previously for violations, but afterwards their parents bring them back without hard feelings. instead, Murray is searching for a new daycare for Faith. In the end, everyone loses.
Remember when teachers taught students how to duck under their desks to protect thems from an air raid? Well, now we live in a much more dangerous age, the age of the dreaded peanut butter cracker. Food allergies surely are not something to joke about, but the inability for a toddler to avoid suspension from adults at her daycare over an errant cheese sandwich goes beyond the lunch pail.
Opinion By Matt Stinson