Trust and gullibility (and marshmallows)

1. So, on the one hand, I want to trust people, such as my daughter. On the other hand, I don’t want to be gullible or susceptible to deception or manipulation.

It is not always easy to know when to err on which side.

I thought I had a lot more to say about this than that, but that seems to be the issue in a nutshell. I guess it’s also about figuring out what it really means to respect people (including Amy) and to try to always view and act with compassion. I occasionally find inspiration and conviction and encouragement from Karyn Van Der Zwet, Janet Lansbury, Laura Grace Weldon, Teacher Tom, and Amy’s teachers and other Montessorians, to name a few.

(Ah, here’s one — Amy has to pee (after bedtime) at exactly the same time she hears Mark turn off the TV and head to bed? Or hears anything else interesting?)

I will add that I’m thinking partly (and only partly, although I can’t think of the other things that have triggered this thought) about the article someone linked recently, about a school ruling that kids would have to stay after school to make up missed class time if they went to the bathroom during class hours (vs. between classes) more than three times in a day. Yeah, some kids are going to use the bathroom to waste time. But it seems better to trust that in general, kids are going to use the bathroom because they have to pee. And it makes one think, how can we improve the environment so that wasting time is less appealing, and so that using the bathroom is less disruptive.

2. Also? Words are seriously powerful.

The church we have been attending most recently, and feel like we are likely to keep attending, has been experiencing enough increase in numbers that they have developed an expansion plan. They are, properly respectfully, making a good effort to get feedback from the congregation before going forward.

In response to a number of people being concerned that getting bigger will negatively impact the relational atmosphere of the church, the pastor said something very much like “We don’t want to stunt what God is doing here just because we want to be comfortable.” And I really understand and respect his point.

On the other hand, wow, what a loaded statement! Consider if someone else had said, for example, “We don’t want to risk losing our most valuable asset just because we want more warm bodies to count.” Same loadedness, in the opposite direction.

3. Speaking of church, three times in the last two months, marshmallows have been part of snack in Sunday School. Yeah, that’s only three times in the last two months, and they’ve been served with something else (goldfish once, graham crackers another time). And it’s not going to kill anyone.

And yet, I find myself cursing the invention of packaged crackers and candies and convenience foods in general. It would be easier to wash some grapes or slice some carrots than it would be to make candy or crackers from scratch. And that’s the way it used to be, and that’s why people ate more grapes and carrots than candy and crackers.

And yes, I’ve thought about offering to bring in some snacks, or talking to the people in charge, and… while I feel strongly enough to want to vent about the issue, I’m a little reluctant to be the insufferable activist. I might anyway. I hope I can do so in the least offensive way possible.


4 thoughts on “Trust and gullibility (and marshmallows)

  1. About the marshmallows: I think you will have to say something if it bothers you. The problem may be that not everyone has as high standards for snack foods that you do, and they don’t even realize there is a problem. Honestly? Marshmallows aren’t something that stand out to me as necessarily evil. (In fact, there is a bag on my kitchen counter right now from an earlier mug of hot chocolate my daughter had!) Chips, candy bars, sodas…obviously bad. I would NOT personally serve those to a Sunday School class. But marshmallows would probably never cross my mind as being something terrible, even if they are.

    (NOTE: I’m sure you have many legitimate reasons they are bad, my point is NOT that they’re okay, just that they aren’t really on my radar as necessarily off-limits to kids, and that’s probably the case at your church as well.)

    I know from past experience that some churches buy their supplies monthly, which may be one reason why fruits/veggies aren’t served. Other reasons might be limited prep time or lack of access to a kitchen. I would think that if you volunteered to bring in grapes or apple slices, they’d probably be very receptive to the idea! At the very least, explaining why you are against marshmallows might be enough to remove them from the rotation, you never know. 🙂

    • Yeah — marshmallows ARE candy as far as I’m concerned — highly processed, no nutritional value… I could let the goldfish and graham crackers pass, but the marshmallows do bother me! There is a kitchen right there where the classes are, but you might be right about the monthly shopping and limited prep time. I might consider volunteering.

  2. Marcy, first off thanks for mentioning me anywhere near words like “inspiration” and “encouragement.” Dearly appreciated!

    I have thoughts about your three concerns.

    1. I think we live in a culture too quick to label a child’s actions as manipulation. I have to agree with you on the nonsensical policy of penalizing a child who is frequently excused to go to the bathroom during school. I often wonder why those in a profession geared to education don’t seem to have a clue how attention is sustained and thinking stimulated. Studies show that taking a break, moving one’s body, engaging in conversation, and lots of other activities we call “wasting time” actually help us refocus, pay attention, and be more productive.
    As for your daughter, I’m guessing she’s a light sleeper. She’ll be taking herself to the bathroom soon enough.

    3. The marshmallow snack thing almost made me laugh. There are a few organizations, our church among them, that will probably always regard me as She Who Ruined Our Snacks. I ranted about this a while back and still notice that awful snacks tend to be paired with wonderful activities. I suspect you’re doomed to becoming Grape Mommy. Wishing you luck!

    • Laura, thanks for responding!

      I agree about being too quick to call manipulation…

      With the after-bedtime peeing, this usually happens when she’s still awake. (She’s still in that in-between stage of sometimes napping and sometimes not; on days she naps she manages the afternoon and evening better but stays awake later.) I am pretty sure it is more about connecting, being in the know, and less about needing to pee — and I should be less annoyed by it. She uses the bathroom independently… the annoyance is just when we want to be “done” for the evening and not be interrupted or feel spied on / hovered over. I want to honor her need for connection… AND my need for space, and as I said it’s not always easy to know which side to err on. This is a child who wants to know everything (one dramatic upset on the way to school this year involved deep frustration about not knowing everything…) and who narrates our documentary as we live it and does tend to hover…

      I tend to think one of the biggest culprits in the problems with education is that full-time teaching is just too big a job. Too many students, too much material, not enough time, not enough support. When you’re that close to the edge of just getting through the day, it is really hard to be thoughtful about anything that doesn’t fit the box.

      I wish I could just keep Amy with us in the church service all the time (we already do, on the first Sunday of each month)… it’s hard to choose not to partake in what is considered normal and wonderful… at this age I think the Sunday School (other than the needless snack) is good, but a little older they’re blasting Christian rock for the kids to sing to, and you can’t hear their voices, and it’s just weird… I don’t have a problem with rock music, but for group singing I would just rather see someone with a guitar or keyboard, there in person, leading — or to sing a capella. Or at the very least, turn it down! Yeah, I’m already gripey mom.

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