I just woke up from a dream. In it, I am in a classroom surrounded by children ranging in age from about 6 up to 13, and we are all chatting informally as the new school year starts. There is a feeling of excitement and happy anticipation.
A man walks in and introduces himself as a volunteer for a sports program and then begins handing out treats to the kids. I realize they are peanut butter cups, unwrapped, and the dream slides into a nightmare.
“Wait, excuse me!”, I jump to my feet and go to the man, ushering him away from the kids and towards the teacher. “We have kids here who can’t eat those…. We can’t eat those here… We are a peanut-free, um, allergy-aware school (please note, that even in a panicky dream I try to use the right politically correct words – not BAN, which is so divisive and causes so much controversy).” Ultimately, I say firmly: “You can’t give those out.”
The man looks at me in confusion, and I am aware of a third adult, the principal. She draws the man aside and explains, and I watch his eyes shift back and forth from the principal to the candy.
I can sense his embarrassment and his disbelief, but he complies with the principal’s request to put the stuff away. The principal comes over and says to me, “I found that very awkward.” I want to reassure her, but instead I say: “It doesn’t get easier. It feels weird to tell someone they can’t do what they’ve always done, but the rules have changed.”
The dream takes a turn for the better as the focus shifts back to the kids, and we talk about food and why we have to be careful with some foods.
When the class is over, I find myself walking along the hallway with the principal. “That was quite a morning,” she says.
“Was the man with the peanut butter cups upset?” I ask. “Once I explained he was fine with it,” she replies, “but then I got a call from a parent who saw the hockey sticks.…”
This is the point I wake up at with a knot in my stomach. I don’t have a clue what the hockey sticks were about, except maybe a reminder that other parents have fears, too, or that principals deal with a huge range of issues.
But the rest of the dream was clear. My mind is sending me a message that summer is over and there’s work to be done.
Coming Soon: Goldilocks goes to school.