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Aunt Becky vs. The Hippies


First off, let me say a big thank you to anyone who thought enough of me to email me or send me some good vibrations. The Internet is a strange and wonderful place, and I am honestly tickled pink that you guys would care enough to think of me. I’d elaborate further and beg for support since I was born lacking a filter (it’s genetic, I’m assured), but it’s not my issue and it’s not for me to discuss.

*air smootches to you all*


It may come as a shock to absolutely no one that my parents were hippies. Well, considering how I turned out, it may come as a shock to everyone, but I digress. I was born into a family who grew their own veggies, churned their own butter (yes, seriously), made their own maple syrup and shopped at real health food stores before shopping at Whole Foods became trendy.

We were organic before it was hip and trendy.

I cut my teeth on Free to Be You And Me and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and could probably sing any number of anti-war songs to you, songs you’ve probably never heard of, even after years of Britney Spears and bubble gum pop have melted my brain.

Of course, I am nothing like this. My favorite food is McDonald’s (I am also apparently trashy), I genuinely like music that has no deeper meaning than the same repetitive beats, and am over-archingly as shallow as pond scum (or is pond scum deep?). The more processed, pasteurized food-like substitutes, the better.

Now, 5 years ago, Ben was embroiled in many times weekly therapy for his autistic issues (hate of the term “problem”) and I was meeting fairly often with the Early Intervention coordinators. During one of those meetings it was brought up that Ben should be immediately enrolled in preschool. For Special Needs kids. It was through the state, and I considered it for awhile.

Daver and I came to the conclusion that we were going to look into preschools, but probably something more private than that. We ended up at a Montessori school in a nearby town built on several acres, and after we were accepted he enrolled at age three.

Turned out to be one of the smartest decisions we’ve ever made (save for the deep fryer we never bought. That was smarter. Can you imagine the mess?) and Ben thrived. Some of the issues we had with him were subdued to the point that it was barely perceptible to those not in the know about his diagnosis, and others were eliminated altogether.

(For anyone who didn’t know, I am now telling you the issues with food and more explicitly his peanut butter sandwich are directly related to his autism. NOT just being an asshole picky kid (that would have been me). So, sucking it up and dealing with it is not the same as taking a binkie away from a 4 year old.)

Ben stayed at that school for years, and until he reached the elementary years, we were thrilled by it. Suddenly, last year however, when we had to begin to pack his own lunch, it became glaringly apparent just how unlike the rest of the school our family was. We were now bubble gum pop versus the folk singers. Turns out my years of being raised as a hippie didn’t do much except for show me how little of my upbringing I’d retained.

Without so much as a note home to parents, it was expected that we were to psychically know what was Forbidden To Pack and what was not. I’d never have packed a Twinkie or a Ding Dong, a Kool Aid or a bag of Fritos, but THAT WASN’T ENOUGH. I mistakenly bought him some Milano cookies for his first day as a big old first grader, and he came home to inform me that he was told that he couldn’t eat them. By his teacher. In front of the class.

Which was MY fault, not Ben’s, yet he was literally cowering from the cookies (he has a high regard for authority, something his mother could stand to learn from). But the other parents were as crunchy granola people as my parent’s had been, so the issues were squarely my own to deal with. We just didn’t fit in there, not anymore.

Over and over, these situations happened, I’d pack something dumb, he’d pay for it. I’d try to contact the school only to be ignored. There is, of course, more to the story than I’m telling you, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll choose to be, well, briefer than normal.

The Nut Ban! was just the icing on the cake for us. It was just over. Time to move on.

Ben started his first day of public school today, complete with hot lunch program and peanut free TABLES at school, and while I’m thrilled that this will be such a good opportunity for him, I’m equally nervous. I hope we made the right decision.

(They totally had Capri-Sun on the hot lunch menu. I’m pumped.)

43 Comments to

“Aunt Becky vs. The Hippies”

  1. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:32 pm kalakly Says:

    Yay! I want to send some Skitt.les for his lunch and maybe a Kool Aid just for fun:) Sometimes doing it in public really is the right way to go.

  2. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:33 pm Heather Says:

    Whatever the problem is with whomever it is with I am sending good vibes your/or their way. Whatever the case may be.

    As for Ben’s move. I hope it goes well and he enjoy’s his hot lunch program. Perhaps it will expand his horizons a bit. Or perhaps you will be just packing more peanut butter!! 🙂

  3. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:37 pm Jessie Says:

    I’m so glad you found a good fit for your family! I love the montessori program (for my son. never thought I would like it but it’s been a good fit for my son.) I’ve just been lucky enough that our public school actually is the montessori program.

  4. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:41 pm Stacey Says:

    I hope everything goes well for him at his new school! I have crunchy granola friends. I like to wave Big Macs under their noses while they cook their organic free range soy burgers.

  5. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:55 pm Honu-girl Says:

    Good luck to you and Ben in the coming days. Good vibes being sent from someone who often self-describes as “crunchy-granola” but sits squarely in the McDonald’s-loving, cookie-sending camp. Guess I’m really not so crunchy-granola after all 😀

  6. On August 27th, 2008 at 2:57 pm Kristen Says:

    I really pray that this school works out wonderfully for Ben and for your family, it is a super important thing.

    I have never quite fit into the greater home educating group in my area, it is full of crunchy, granola, attachment parenting, baby wearing, nursing til 5, anti-vaccinations/sugar/processed foods, intact foreskin and co-sleeping advocates that I adore, but never quite fit in with. I am more the live and let live type.
    Of course there are many people just like me as well, but we seem to be the fringe.
    Take care Aunt Becky, thinking of you always, hope all your sausages are well.

  7. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:01 pm Badass Geek Says:

    It sounds like this will be a good experience for him. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  8. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:12 pm tash Says:


    You know, I was raised by hippies of the older set. I apparently protested ‘nam in utero. Anyhoo, I attended the first meeting of Bella’s school last year where the director informed us that they were a low sugar school, yada yada, healthy, blah, etc. FINE. So I went apoplectic in selecting my snacks only to show up and find other parents carrying in cupcakes — not the homemade, flax kind mind you — and kids toting oreos in their lunch bags. I sighed sweet relief. Not so much that I’ll pack that stuff, but that the option is there is we have a day where it needs done.

    Sorry about what went down. Hoping the move is everything you wanted.

  9. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:28 pm theramblinghousewife Says:

    These “nut bans” are killers. We had a “nut ban” the last two years that I was teaching and it was a HUGE controversy.

    I think the only nut that should have been banned was the Mom who insisted that peanut butter was the devil.

    She was a real whack-job.

    I hope been has a great year. (And coming from a sped. teacher, I hope he has an AWESOME gen ed. teacher!! ):)

  10. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:30 pm kbreints Says:

    It sounds like you made the right decision and his old school came into your life at the right time– I am sure that this public school will do some great things for him as well… I hope that it all works out for the best!

  11. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:35 pm abandoning eden Says:

    ooh, as a hippie I now want to know how to make maple syrup. 🙂

  12. On August 27th, 2008 at 3:36 pm Vered Says:

    I think you made the right decision for your family. I hope he’s happy there!

  13. On August 27th, 2008 at 4:15 pm WD Says:

    I’m glad things have worked out for your family.

  14. On August 27th, 2008 at 4:19 pm Cassie Says:

    It sounds like you made the right decision for him. It must have been a little scary moving him to a public school! Hopefully everything will work out just fine. Good luck this year!

  15. On August 27th, 2008 at 4:26 pm theramblinghousewife Says:

    Oh my.

    I am completely brain dead.

    See what not bloogging for a month has done to my mushy brain matter??

    I spelled your beautiful son “Ben’s” name “been?””

    WTH is wrong with me??

  16. On August 27th, 2008 at 4:33 pm cadiz12 Says:

    wow, i can’t believe they didn’t even send home a note with “approved/banned” foods. your poor kid is going to be scared of Milanos and who knows what else for a long time!

  17. On August 27th, 2008 at 5:24 pm Kristine Says:

    Yay for public schools! Finally getting a return on your property taxes!

    Hope all is/will be well with everything.

  18. On August 27th, 2008 at 5:29 pm -Seraphimred- Says:

    Good vibes to mister ben that this is the right thing to do.

    And good vibes to you miss becky that hopefully now you can relax…

    I think we need story time!


  19. On August 27th, 2008 at 5:31 pm Candid Engineer Says:

    I think this was a totally appropriate move for your family and your son. Hopefully things will get better from here on out. Thinking of you.

  20. On August 27th, 2008 at 5:34 pm Amanda Says:

    I’m glad that you were able to figure out a good solution to your problem. I’m a product of a public school education (but then again perhaps I’ve just scared you). Sending good vibes your way.

  21. On August 27th, 2008 at 5:45 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    Sounds like you made a good decision. And if you decide, for whatever reason to change your mind, then you certainly can.

  22. On August 27th, 2008 at 6:18 pm Maria Says:

    Aw wow, lady. I’m glad you were able to make that big transition okay.

  23. On August 27th, 2008 at 6:23 pm Queen-sized funny bone Says:

    We are human and we learn best by trial and error.
    good luck.

  24. On August 27th, 2008 at 7:12 pm Tiffany @ My Random Wisdom Says:

    You go girl!
    anyone who poo-poo’s a Milano cookie and traumatizes a child over it is THE DEVIL in my book…hehe..

    I heart chocolate..(I have no prejudices however, on organic or not, I just heart cholcolate!)

    It takes alot of guts to step outside the box..good job!!

    I went to public school and I am not so bad (except for that twitch..and the hump on my back Bahahhahha..kidding…or AM I? 😉 )

  25. On August 27th, 2008 at 7:13 pm Tiffany @ My Random Wisdom Says:

    and I think it is awesome that your family was so ‘crunchy’ I am like that..but I prefer to think of myself as ‘chocolate granola’ 😉 since I also enjoy the processed side of life

  26. On August 27th, 2008 at 7:28 pm Lola Says:

    I missed out on the vibrations of love request because I was away searching the sex shops of Provincetown for some good vibes of my own…

    I found just what I was looking for, but I’ll keep it in the box, all shiny and new, and Fed-Ex it first thing tomorrow.

    It’s your favorite color.

    I hope Ben loves his new school!

  27. On August 27th, 2008 at 7:42 pm Petra Says:

    GOD, why can’t people just let us raise our children in the way we see fit?? I sent my son with one of those frozen pre-made pb&j sandwich pockets that you toss in the lunch box and they thaw out by lunch (one of the ONLY things he would eat, much to my dismay) and the teacher told him he couldn’t eat it and made him borrow lunch money so he could eat tacos or mac ‘n cheese or whatever other equally heinous thing they were serving for lunch. This was NOT a nut issue, this was that she thought it wasn’t nutritious enough. I was ENRAGED. If I want to send my kid to school with an entire chocolate layer cake for lunch, I should have the right to do so. I don’t understand how the school thinks they can dictate what we feed our children. I understand if a kid isn’t getting anything nutritious and it is apparent by their gaunt face, circles under the eyes and/or lethargic demeanor, then the school should look into the lunch issue. But for a normal, well-taken care of kid, he should be able to have a stinkin pre-made pb&j!

    Good luck in the new school. Capri Sun sounds promising!

  28. On August 27th, 2008 at 7:50 pm chris Says:

    Here’s one thing I can tell you. Being a suburban dweller and my children attending suburban schools and me teaching at an inner city public school, I wouldn’t worry…Ben will do great!

  29. On August 27th, 2008 at 8:39 pm Heather Says:

    LOL @ Rambling Housewife, for starters.

    I am not of hippies, nor a hippie which is a *very* good thing given my own love of those beautiful golden arches.

  30. On August 27th, 2008 at 9:03 pm Edward Says:

    Becky as you know we have had 3 “special needs kids”, and possibly a 4th. One of our son’s was dx’d autistic and is now considers a severe asperger’s (if there is any such thing as severe asperger’s I mean its still austis right?) Anyways, we always did a lot to make his life easier, protect him a lot.

    One of our son’s has done great in the public schools. He has emotionally and behaviorally distrubed label at school but really that is not his dx as that is not a dx but a school label. Anyway they have been great. The program he has in place has helped a lot. So we decided to stop protecting our other son and send him to the same school as his brother. I had homeschooled him before and he went to the charter school his dad works at. That was not working any longer.

    I really think we made a mistake in not sending him sooner. I think a good program could have been put in place but we waited too long and our son spiraled of his own will.

    Public school can be a good thing. Long story short, I hope your son is happy at his new school and that his needs are met. You might be happily surprised. It will be nice for you to be told everything upfront at least and hopefully you will get to experience a variety of parents instead of all those granolla eaters.

    You might not be surprised but I feel like the outsider at the school my daughter is going to…public elementary but in the snooty neighborhood. Yeah we live in the area, the area that is not quite as snooty but we still get some looks in this neighborhood.

    Sorry to get all off onto me and my…I really hope this works out and everyone is happy. I had some real alarms going off with the posts on food. I mean your the parent and you should have ultimate control over what you put in your kids lunch.

    Remember that you can only make decsions based on the info you have at the time and obviously you have your son’s best interest at heart. You can’t go wrong with that even if you find later that you did not make the best decsion, at least you tried and you meant well. That counts for a lot.

  31. On August 27th, 2008 at 9:08 pm Sara Says:

    I’m half “crunchy granola”, half “who gives a crap”. So I’m with you. And I totally got that the Nut Ban! was not even HALF of the problem.

    More power to the public school. I hope you have the BEST experience there!

  32. On August 27th, 2008 at 9:11 pm LaskiGal Says:

    When I read about this on your other post I talked to a few friends. They said it is happening all over!!!

    Here in the boonies we don’t ban much of anything, but in the city and burbs where we are originally from, it is granola land.

    A childhood friend said that the list of banned items (food and other stuff) was longer than the school supply list.

    Kudos to you for making a move. The TABLES sounds much more logical . . . imagine that.

    Good luck and keep us updated! I’d love to hear how he’s doing . ..

  33. On August 27th, 2008 at 9:18 pm gingermagnolia Says:

    Good luck, Ben! Have fun eating your hot lunch or peanut butter sandwich, or cookies!

    Free to be You and Me was played ad nauseum in our house growing up. My sister and I can recite the entire sketch with the snotty little girl. Ladies first! Ladies first!

  34. On August 27th, 2008 at 9:32 pm LilSass Says:

    I come of the hippie blood as well and NO ONE wanted to trade sandwiches with me cause it was on “brown bread” not the pasty white stuff. In summary, your parents did a great job with you (even if you love the golden arches …mmmmmm) and you’re making the right choice for your son.

    I am so sorry this has caused you such grief but really and truly, you’re doing the right thing.

    And one last thing … although parents do have the right to send their kid to school with an 8-layer chocolate cake, if a meal lacking nutrition impedes upon one’s ability to sit still/stay awake/absorb the lesson, then it’s not fair to the teachers (nor the kid). When I taught my kids came to school with no food in their bellies at all. So what’d I do? Stole some from the cafeteria, obviously!

  35. On August 27th, 2008 at 11:27 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    hope this decision works out well for you all

  36. On August 28th, 2008 at 6:29 am Jenn Says:

    Wow, I think it sounds like you made the exact right decision. If they couldn’t be bothered to return a phone call or anything then why waste your money? I hope he enjoys it and it works out for you.

  37. On August 28th, 2008 at 8:31 am Rachel Says:

    I’m hoping that the public school brings your family more peace and you can just relax and enjoy your kid. My daughter has some sensory issues w/certain things on clothes, mainly seams. She’s better now than she was a few years ago, but it is still challenging to buy clothes for her that she will actually wear (not due to style/color/etc, but the placement of the seams). Hang in there!

  38. On August 28th, 2008 at 9:48 am Karen Says:

    Good luck to Ben at the new school. I am sure he will be fine. The private school didn’t seem to be the right environment for you so it couldn’t be perfect for him either.

    You are such a good mom.

  39. On August 28th, 2008 at 11:59 am ScienceMama Says:

    Good luck to you and Ben! *hugs and hugs*

  40. On August 28th, 2008 at 12:15 pm Brooke Says:

    I hope that Ben had a great first day at school and enjoyed his peanut butter sandwhich! Some times you just have to say F IT and go with what is right for your child right now.

    Hope everything is okay! Happy thoughts your way…

  41. On August 28th, 2008 at 12:17 pm Brooke Says:

    *And by “sandwhich” I meant “sandwich”…

  42. On August 28th, 2008 at 7:42 pm Mumma Boo Says:

    Great to see that you found a solution to the problem. Ben will do very well in public school. He got what he needed from the private school and now it’s time to move on. You may even find out that you have access to more programs for him in the public sector. In any event, I’m glad this situation is resolving in such a positive way for you and your family! As for the other situation on which you must remain mum, I’m sending good thoughts your way.

  43. On August 31st, 2008 at 6:49 pm mandy Says:

    You know, that kind of school stuff is everywhere I have ever been. I had terrible experiences with private schools (with my daughter), they were rude and snotty. Just judgemental, since I was such a young parent, etc. People are mean. And dumb. Sometimes.

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