Louise Roberts: We're breeding a generation of wimps
WHAT do a macaroni necklace and a footpath covered in dirt and old chewing gum have to do with keeping kids safe?
Everything, according to the new lieutenants of cultural correctness.
Top of these skewed moralists' Most Wanted list this week are school Mother's Day celebrations. No longer just code for handing over $10 to your child so they can buy you a simple gift from a fundraising stall, these previously joyful, agenda-free events now stand accused of failing their quotas for diversity and family inclusivity.
This week principal Jeff Lyon decided that his school in Melbourne would kibosh traditional Mother's Day celebrations and instead mark something called the UN International Day of Families. Those women who gave birth to you had hogged the Mother's Day limelight for too long, stunned parents were effectively informed via the school newsletter.
"I believe celebrating International Day of Families is a more inclusive way of celebrating the richness, diversity and complexity of living and loving as a family in the modern world," Lyon told his school community.
It was a perfect example of the thinking of the smug fun police who are hell bent on systematic and unnecessary meddling in traditions most parents still want for their children but are made to feel awkward for embracing.
No matter that Mother's Day stalls are events where the star turn is jewellery made from pasta and pink frosted cupcakes are acceptable breakfast fare.
Lyon was forced to bring back Mother's Day but only after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called him and got the ban overturned. But, naturally, he wasn't the only culprit.
Blindly, another altruistic school opted to alienate its core client - the parents - and demand $5 payment for a charity stall in. Instead of some cheap but hand-selected trinket, mum gets a card congratulating her on a charity donation because that's what is important, right?
But it's not just Mother's Day in the frame. Playing in the street or walking to school without a helicopter parent buzzing alongside, doing a math's test without spiralling into a breakdown or simply airing a thought or asking a question about someone who looks or sounds different to you are all experiences increasingly out of bounds for Aussie kids.
It used to be that young people didn't need lessons in tolerance because they were polite, curious and naturally accepting. This was before non-binary BS and political correctness in the playground became a thing and cemented a school's identity rather than the colour of its uniform.
Now we have bananas being handed out to NAPLAN students to cure stress and scheduled walk ride to school days because we've failed to teach our kids how to function in public armed with nothing more than basic safety skills and common sense.
We promote free speech as a virtue and right yet micromanage our kids' thoughts and downtime because we are convinced things are "worse" than when we were young.
As a parent, you are forced to continuously dodge ethical landmines designed to remind you to do better while navigating modern life for your kids.
Meanwhile defeat and adversity, as crucial for kids as oxygen, are a dirty concept because everyone has the birthright to be accepted and applauded for simply getting out of bed in the morning.
In Brisbane, Wellers Hill State School had 1000 ripe bananas on hand to feed year 3 and 5 students during this week's NAPLAN. Kids have also been encouraged to do a stress-busting "banana dance".
"When kids are eating a banana they have time to relax before they enter the test and it's also good for them," Principal John Webster told the Courier-Mail.
My question is this: what have we done to our offspring that they need a fruit gimmick to "calm down" in order to complete a maths and English assessment promoted as just a "snapshot" of their real-time education?
What do we want our kids to remember about their school days and childhood? Is it the bitter sweetness of just missing out on the soccer team because they weren't good enough and deep down knew it?
Or is will it be the pile of participation ribbons and the endless mollycoddling which also says they were not good enough for the team but robs them of resilience and a precious determination to try harder next time.
Remember when you brought home a box of Freddo Frogs to raise money for canteen renovations? Gone, because it triggers obesity.
But fear not - we can always send our children out into the wilds of the bush for structured 'adventures', all fully supervised, insured and captured on film. That's if they're not being privately tutored top "smash" the NAPLAN tests.
Endless health authorities warn that Australians are creating a generation of "cotton wool kids" because parents have distorted perceptions of stranger danger. Some schools in the US have even banned musical chairs because it promotes exclusion. And when was the last time you saw any kids in your street playing cops and robbers or anything that involved using a stick as a pretend weapon?
Remember the days when school was out and the sun was out so we were out?
We built cubbies and fortresses and bases, none of which would pass the OH&S regulations imposed by today's parents. We hunted for tadpoles, climbed mulberry trees chasing fat juicy berries (yes they did stain terribly), played tennis and cricket in the street and only went home when mum or dad called us in for dinner. We came home dirty, sweaty, often sporting skinned knees and stubbed toes and the odd broken bone from falling off our bikes.
Now we are breeding snowflake prince and princesses because we drum into them: you're not competent, we don't trust you.
Recently an Australian Early Development Census national report said an increasing number of kindy students had trouble behaving, taking responsibility and showing respect. That, just like the stress fruit initiative and a mum stall ban, is simply bananas.