Have you ever attended a school function where there were crying
babies, whining toddlers who couldn't sit still, and a lot of
parents gazing upon their older children doing some kind of special
memory-making performance, graduation, concert, etc.?
Did that presence of families and the inevitable noise they
bring bother you? Or were you comforted by that warm
feeling surrounding you, of families sharing in special moments
together? Well, if you chose the latter, you better not
enroll at my daughter's school.
Somehow during school tours, acceptance, registration and even
orientation this unadvertised, but well-enforced school policy of
"no kids under age 5 allowed at school events" was never
mentioned. And somehow, it never crossed my mind
to ask if my 3-year old son would be allowed to
attend his sister's performance, graduation, field day, or any
other school event. Boy, was that a bad move. This whole
school-year has been a flurry of finding baby-sitters (thank you to
my good friend who did it A LOT!) so I could try to be an involved
parent and take part in my daughter's special activities at school.
Because let's face it, I'm a rule follower. Well, I might have
broken the rule just once. Shockingly, nobody called me on
it. But then again, it was about 18 degrees outside and probably
fewer than 50 students had showed up for the event.
Early on in the fall, I replied to an after school cultural
event filling out the form for myself, my daughter, and my son as
attendees. I'm still trying to delete from my memory the
number of e-mails (4) and phone calls (3) I received from the
President of the PAC about this. At first, my naïveté let me think
I was being contacted to volunteer at this event. And then, after a
lot of phone tag, the messages became more detailed to make sure I
received the specifics that I'd better not even think about showing
up at this event with my 3-year-old. I was aghast and could
literally feel my blood pressure rise. Then it just grew.
Every flyer and notice of all the fun things you dream about
being offered by a school contained this phrase:
"Remember: Children under age 5 are not
allowed. Please plan accordingly so that you are not
disappointed." And sometimes, we get a tag of: "Due to the
potential noise disruption". And I have confirmed this rule has
nothing to do with a space constraint either. But come on, noise
disruption at field day, graduation, a Kindergarten show, Literacy
I did contact one school official merely inquiring why this rule
applied to graduation since it is such a special event. I pointed
out how ludicrous it was that I can (and have) bring my 3-year old
to a High School or College Graduation, but not his own sister's
Kindergarten graduation. I also mentioned how we all know the
parents are the ones who make all the noise at a graduation. In
reply, I was only very politely given the statement from the flyers
again. And after reading the full-page Kindergarten graduation
update, I know why. There are so many rules for this event that I'm
going to have to write crib notes in pen on my hand to remember
what I can or can't do. And whatever happens I won't forget to
"refrain from the all-embarrassing 'whooping' or hollering when my
child's name is called."
Being the good mother, person and writer that I am, I decided to
do some unscientific, undocumented research to find out if I was
alone. Of course not to my surprise, even the parents of children
who have no siblings are appalled by this rule. Some of
the quotes I received were "It's terrible." "It makes no
sense." "It's the opposite of what a school is about." I
honestly did not have one parent tell me they agree with and/or
like the rule.
And what about the parent(s) who want to be involved with their
child, but can't afford a babysitter? Or what if
culturally, the only babysitter's they know are other family
members, who of course also want to attend the special
event? Is it right to take away once-in-a-lifetime
memories from these parents just because they have younger
Luckily, we can afford a babysitter. But sadly, in my
house, we now have to downplay our daughter's Kindergarten
graduation. Otherwise, my children will be even more upset and
devastated that our whole family cannot celebrate this very special
So as the school year draws to a close, here are my
thoughts. This rule does nothing to help us teach and
celebrate the value of education within our own families, let alone
build a sense of community within the school. And this
is our school, right? We are the
families whose children make up this school, so why should we allow
this rule to remain? Everyone wants it changed, but
nobody knows what to do, how to do it, has time do it,
etc. The only person I know that has challenged it
was literally threatened to be escorted away by a security guard if
she came to Kindergarten Graduation with her 2-year old
daughter. I guess this is the school's definition of
"Please plan accordingly so that you are not disappointed."
I'm not sure where I'll start, or how high my blood pressure
will get, but even if it takes the next eight years, I plan to get
this rule abolished. So school officials, please take
note of our future rule: NO School employees who are
bothered by children under age 5 will be allowed to attend any
school events. Please plan accordingly so that you are
See more of Heather's stories here.
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