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Mom Praised For Refusing To Change Her Son's Packed Lunch That His Teacher Declared 'Disgusting & Inappropriate'

Photo: Chaay_Tee / Pixel-Shot / imasecret / Shutterstock via Canva Pro
Upset asian mother, packing a school lunch, angry teacher

A mom on Reddit had been sending her son to school with what she believed was a normal lunch for some time now. The 5-year-old boy has been sent off to preschool with what could be considered a normal, cultural lunch — seeing as she and her son are Korean.

However, she received a phone call the other day from her son’s teacher that led her to believe the opposite and that her son’s lunch had been a problem this entire time.

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His teacher said that the lunches she packs are ‘disgusting and inappropriate.’

Confused as to why her son’s teacher seemed to have a problem with her, the 34-year-old woman posted on the subreddit “r/AmItheA--hole” (AITA) to see if she really was the issue, or if her son’s teacher was just overreacting. She explained the story and the lunch with which she was sending her son to school in full detail.

“A few hours after I picked him up from school today, I got a phone call from his teacher,” she wrote. “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches.”

She expressed her confusion, explaining that up until this point, she and her son’s teacher have maintained a very friendly relationship. Well past spring break now and nearing the end of the school year, she’s confused as to why something seems to have bubbled up now.

The teacher claimed that the lunches are “very distracting for the other students and have an unpleasant odor.” The mom said, “I told her that I understand her concerns, as the lunches I pack are definitely not the healthiest, but the lunches are according to my son’s preferences.”

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“The usual lunch that I send him to school with is small celery sticks with blue cheese and goat cheese, kimchi and spam (we are Korean and he absolutely adores this dish),” she explains, “and spicy Doritos marinated in Sriracha (I know, I know, but he deserves a snack, and I don’t put that many chips in the baggy).”

She ended the call by saying that while she appreciated the teacher’s concerns, she wasn’t about to start drastically changing her son’s "inappropriate" lunches and that it isn’t her fault if the other kids are distracted by it. “It is very important to me what my son enjoys, and I want him to like my lunches.”

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the last time she heard from her son’s teacher as an email sent shortly after their phone conversation escalated the situation further. The email she sent was “saying that my response was ‘unacceptable’ and that his lunches are ‘just too inappropriate to be sent to school any longer.’”

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The teacher’s motivations feel racially charged when she should have used this as a teachable moment.

The mom’s lunches are totally normal (I may have to try those spicy sriracha-marinated Doritos) and are an important part of her Korean culture. Just because they may smell or seem different than a piece of ham and cheese in between two pieces of white bread doesn’t mean they are “disgusting.”

If the other children in her classroom were truly finding themselves distracted or repulsed by the odor, then the teacher should have used the situation to raise cultural awareness and acceptance. Instead, she opted to bash the child’s lunches and come off as a racist in an increasingly diverse nation.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012, 50.4 percent of children under 1 year of age were considered minorities — “A population greater than 50 percent minority is considered ‘majority-minority.’”

To further showcase the increase in diversity, according to a study conducted by Jeanne L. Reid, 59 percent of the children from 11 state pre-K programs represented a racial/ethnic minority.

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Although the diversity of children entering the world and entering schools seems to be increasing, that doesn’t always translate into inclusivity in the classroom.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) believes that valuing diversity in the classroom is essential for all teachers to create an equitable environment.

“Self-awareness, humility, respect, and a willingness to learn are key to becoming a teacher who equitably and effectively supports all children and families,” they wrote in an article in December 2019.

“Early childhood educators must support consistently warm and caring relationships between families and their children, respect families’ languages and cultures, and incorporate those languages and cultures into the curriculum, their teaching practices, and the learning environment.”

The teacher should take a page from NAEYC’s book and incorporate a much more accepting space for her students to participate in.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.