Is This Over-the-Top Permission Slip Really Necessary?
I thought it was over the top when my son's preschool sent home a letter to address parent complaints that children were arriving home dirty from playing on the playground. I responded with a fake complaint of my own, that my son was not coming home nearly dirty enough. How did I know he was really playing outside and learning from nature and his classmates if he arrived home so pristine?
And this year I had to call my daughter's elementary school to find out if it was true that they really were not permitted to run at recess. Yes, really.
So, when I saw this absurd permission slip one parent posted to Reddit, I was saddened but not shocked. It reads, in part:
"In the course of going out in nature I understand that my child may:
-Get his or her shoes wet or dirty
-Get his or her clothes wet or dirty
-Come in contact with the ground through play and activity
-Go out in the rain and snow
-Walk in the mud
-Come in contact with plants and trees
-See birds, bugs, animals, trees, and plants in a new way"
They forgot: "Breathe non-filtered air; be exposed to natural sunlight; and get his or her hair out of place." Also, the most important ones: "Have fun and come into contact with ideas or experiences that may challenge him or her to think."
Sure, this permission slip letter is an over-the-top parody of helicopter parenting (with a self-congratulatory pat on the back for being a school that engages children with nature). However, the school probably sent this out in response to some actual complaints it has received.
A few responses from Redditors:
"Guys. My sister is a sailing coach. She once had parents complain to her that her children were getting wet. At sailing class." -- la_la_lizzy
"I teach preschool [...] On a daily basis I get complaints of 'oh, Ashlynne, your hair is a mess' or 'Abercrombie, why are your pants so dirty?' Because this is PRESCHOOL (and I totally want to yell that at parents 300 style). We fingerprint, play in the mud, find frogs in the garden, use our shirts for napkins and have fun because we learn through play. I have 12 children to keep alive 5 days a week. I am not a hairdresser or laundress. Your kid had fun, they learned some things are happy and alive at the end of the day." -OhioMegi
"When teaching Karate, I had a student who's parent complained that the kid touched other kids' feet while the helped each other do sit ups." - bw 2002
"A teacher from my school took his class to a farm. It rained that day so the kids got a little dirty. Next day a mom shows up with a receipt for dry cleaning. Her kid had went to the farm in a white dress and was mad it got dirty. According to her, we should have spent the day in the farm house instead of outside with the animals. After 2 weeks of daily harassement, the teacher apologized for his mistake." --throwawayteacheryep
For goodness sakes, at three years' old, they should be stomping in puddles, digging in the dirt, and making mud pies, plus sculpting play dough, gluing, and finger painting. Preschool should be messy--it should not be a fashion show!
What would you think if you had to sign this permission slip?