So currently every morning my kitchen looks like this. An explosion in a purple gloop factory. As I claw my worktops back into some semblance of order I curse PSHE. ..
I realise that those without children of school age might not understand this acronym. So let me explain. It stands for. Err… I am not totally sure to be honest. Something like Personal, Social, Health and Economics education. Or maybe it is Political, Sexual, Health Education or maybe…anyway as I said I am not sure but it is a subject at school that essentially teaches common sense oh and the birds and the bees. Poor teachers.
OK I am over simplifying and before you get the wrong idea I do think there is actually a lot of good stuff in the PSHE curriculum despite my cursing. Things like learning about the harmful effects of smoking and drugs, how to improve self esteem and treat people properly, providing anti-bullying messages, warning of stranger danger both on and off line. And of course I am very pleased every one gets to discuss tampons in a supportive group environment…
So PSHE is essentially all the stuff parents should be discussing with their kids a darn sight earlier than they usually do and that the Government has decided schools should address because parents are essentially crap and not trained and forget to have the on line safety talk before little Jimmy has befriended god knows who on FIFA 15, probably because they really meant to have that chat but fell asleep through sheer exhaustion instead. But there is one element of PSHE that really annoys me and that is the teaching of healthy eating to small and not so small children.
For PSHE starts as early as Reception. I distinctly remember my 4 year old son coming home and refusing to eat pizza because it had become a ‘bad thing’ over night. Well actually over day. But you get the gist. Despite my explaining that this pizza was fine as I had made it myself and covered it in healthy organic vegetables and homemade passata (for I was still at that stage in my parenting career when I thought processed ready made food was the devil AND had enough time to avoid it…ha ha how I laugh at my sanctimonious self now as I shovel ready made pasta sauces into my kids on a shift rotation, I think I was beyond the ‘shaping each individual pizza into a bunny face’ stage (Annabel Karmel needs to get a life seriously) but possibly only just…). But he would not be swayed. And ate merely carrot sticks and cucumber as those had made the ‘good list’. See, still in ‘good parenting mode’, now mine get pizza with chips and possibly a can of baked beans if I can be arsed. Consequentially he went to bed hungry and woke me up at 5am because his stomach was complaining. That was my first brush with PSHE…not a great first impression if I am honest.
Over the years the topic has been repeated at various intervals and I have had to put up with a few weeks, days or hours (depending on the child’s tenacity) of being told they will no longer eat cheese or crisps or some other such black listed food stuff. Not eating crisps or cheese are heinous crimes in my opinion.
The main reason I find the teaching of ‘healthy eating’ so annoying is because the sorts of children who take it the most to heart are precisely the ones who could tuck away a whole pizza and be none the worse for it. Namely mine. And the kids who eat too much rubbish and drink cola on tap won’t give a damn. Stereotyping? Well yes. But hey its true. Sorry. I certainly wouldn’t pass a PSHE exam with my inability to avoid stereotypes although in any event I am not sure such a thing exists anymore. In my day it was called General Studies. I didn’t do General Studies. I did more Maths instead. My common sense seems to have survived.
Anyway I digress. Healthy eating. The most recent of these modules has been directed at Eldest the most likely of my children to take everything to heart. Eldest is 5ft 6 and weighs about 7 stone. He has a 6 pack and undertakes a great deal of sport every week. He is hitting puberty and growing at a more than alarming rate. In fact this time last year he was smaller than me and now he is 2 inches taller. So actually what Eldest needs is food. Lots and lots of food. And yes the majority needs to be healthy. We are cognisant of his requirements for veg and fruit and wholegrains. But he also needs lots of protein and fat and dairy and essential fuel for his rapidly morphing body. If some of that fuel comes from chocolate and cake and pizza I think he will survive. It is always a question of balance. Except when it comes to crisps. There can never be too many crisps.
What he doesn’t need is to restrict his intake in anyway. And so I find this slightly holier than thou ‘healthy eating’ teaching more than a tad annoying. Especially as the school deems it OK to serve sausage roll, chips and spaghetti hoops (which are clearly not a vegetable people clearly not..) on Fridays.
The most recent imparting of information was clearly aimed at trying to improve breakfasts by suggesting smoothies.
Eldest got home and looked up the benefits of smoothies, no doubt found some website or other promoted by Nutri-bullet, and decided he needed to change his breakfast to include a smoothie. Now our mornings are timed to perfection. If we haven’t sat down to eat by 6.30am my palms start to itch and I worry that I will not fit in cello practice or teeth brushing. So when Eldest decided a blender was required for breakfast I started to panic gently. I breathed out and advised that he had better get down from his pit a darn sight earlier than usual, whilst cursing Mr PSHE under my breath
Now, of course, if your usual breakfast consists of a bowl of coco pops and a doughnut from Sainsbury’s before registration then clearly a smoothie is going to improve your nutritional levels quite considerably. However my children eat wholemeal toast, decent cereals and a fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast. So I fail to see how a smoothie improves matters. In fact it probably makes it worse by starting the sugar break down process manually. Ha got you there.
So all that has happened is that Eldest has taken his fruit salad and yogurt and distributed it around my worktops with my soup blender. And of course the other two also think this is a champion idea. We are now ‘experimenting’ with ingredients. They are probably eating more fruit, which actually, guys, isn’t all that healthy, I am yet to persuade them to add kale. But it is also making our mornings even more finely edged time wise.
I am hoping the phase passes. And they will go back to chewing their fruit. And that the next module does not suggest vegetarianism. I will go in and complain I tell you. I will.