One of my now eight-year-old’s artistic triumphs was a robot he built in pre-school.
He was three at the time and as I arrived to pick him up – batting away the wafting scent of Pinoclean and urine that seems to greet you each afternoon – he stood there proudly displaying what would in hindsight prove to be a high point in his artistic career.
It was a robot only around 30cm high but carefully put together with tampon boxes some diligent pre-school mum had donated. Each month she collected up all her empty tampon boxes and when she had enough to donate them to the pre-school craft corner there she had deposited them in the large box overflowing with empty-toilet roll holders, yoghurt containers and egg and milk cartons. My son, drawn to the brightly coloured floral design on the small cardboard boxes had seen what many others had not seen.
Not rubbish. But robot legs.
Preschools are banning certain craft materials. Image via iStock.
This was only five years ago and at the time no one thought twice that any of these products could one day be top of the list of BANNED items at pre-schools.
Yep – empty toilet roll tubes, egg cartons, sanitary product containers, milk or yoghurt containers, polystyrene meat trays, empty peanut butter jars all contraband.
It’s all a part of navigating this brave new world of high allergy children.
Play-dough and pasta have now been added to the list. Image via iStock.
Over the weekend we were all tempted into mass hysteria when news that play-dough and pasta have now been added to the list.
The Sunday Mail reports that the rise in allergies has affected the way many Queensland centres operate with traditional items such as play-dough banned.
One mother said: “Whatever happened to letting kids be kids?”
“For those who choose to live that lifestyle, why should our children have to miss out? … I just think people are taking things far too far these days.”
The weekend paper proclaiming the death of childhood. Image via Facebook.
Wilston Grange Kindergarten director Robbie Leikvold told The Sunday Mail there has been a “huge escalation of allergies” among children.
“We’re talking nuts, gluten, lactose – even insects – so we are constantly cautious of how the children play and eat.”
Another centre manager from Amaze said problems arose when parents self-diagnosed their children with allergies.
“I would be questioning whether the children have been diagnosed with a qualified allergy specialist,” Lucy Cook said. “Despite this, there are some children whose families have made lifestyle choices based on culture or medical reasons so we need to be respectful of that.”
A startled commenter on social media proclaimed it was the "nail in the coffin of childhood."
The contraband items divided up into two separate bans – for two different reasons.
The toilet roll/ sanitary product ban is all about hygiene. Parents and educators worried that stinky mums and dads aren’t washing their hands correctly and would have left traces of their toileting by-products on the now-craft materials and then send them off to spread these by-products amongst the pre-schoolers.
The rest of the banned list is all about allergies.
Food allergens as eggs, milk, fruit, tree nuts, peanut, soy, wheat and fish are all banned at preschools. Image via iStock.
Allergies to meat, to dairy, to eggs, to wheat. Allergies to nuts and soy and fish and latex.
We all know the drill by now. In our pre-school, aside from the banned craft material there are no shared cakes at birthdays, no nuts or eggs or seeds.
There is no yoghurt as a child has a milk allergy, another has an egg allergy and sandwiches must be eaten on a small mat as a child has a wheat allergy and has to be kept away at lunchtime until the crumbs are swept away.
And you know what the outrage level about those bans are in our small community – zilch.
We all know a child these days with an allergy and we’ve all heard of or have even been touched by a child who has died from an allergy -no one wants to be a contributing factor in another one.
I’m yet to meet a parent who will knowingly put another child in danger by sending in a product or food item that might harm a child with an allergy.
So while a small few might be “outraged” by the ban on play-dough I’m not so sure the rest of us are too bothered.
(Personally I enforced a play-dough ban in my home years ago after too many episodes of “who walked the damn play-dough through the carpet”.)
Personally I enforced a play-dough ban in my home years ago. Image via iStock.
In fact, even The Sunday Mail pointed out in their article that several Queensland preschools make gluten-free play-dough or “cloud dough”, using rice flour and use gluten free pasta for their jewellery instead.
When your child is at preschool of course you want it to be a time of magic, of play and laughter, of fairy tales and imagination, of cutting and pasting and glitter and glue.
I've yet to meet a mum who didn't love her macaroni beads. Image via iStock.
But let’s keep it in perspective.
Tampon box robots can be made at home. Crocodiles made from egg cartons can instead be made from cardboard and play-dough made from rice flour is still, in the eyes of a four-year-old, a wondrous delight.
I challenge you to find any mum who loves her pasta necklace any less because it happens to be gluten free.