To better prepare Lilia for first grade, I decided to take her to lunch at the school cafeteria at her elementary school. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were serving ... schloppy joes, schloppy, schloppy joes! And chicken-pattie sandwiches.
I loved school lunch growing up. The nice old lady would put a check next to our names in her ledger book for everytime we came through the line. Sometimes my mom would forget to send a check, but the lunch lady would still let me have lunch, giving me a stern face and telling me to remind my mother to pay the bill. Today they have computers for that.
And working in the lunch room was the "cool" thing to do when I was in elementary school. If you were chosen to work in the lunchroom, it meant you were allowed to leave class 15 minutes early to be a server or help with clean-up. My favorite job was helping in the dishwasher area. that way I didn't have to wear a hair net and ruin my straight-as-straw hairdo.
Lunch ladies never change. They're a mix of fiesty and sweetness, much like a grandma. They want to give you all the food you'd care to eat, but they don't want you wasting your vegetables. We had a teacher, Mrs. Batista, who would guard the garbage cans and make you turn around and sit back down if you didn't eat your vegetables. I always made sure to leave room for the veggies. She was well-versed in the teacher stare: the type of stare that could scare children into obedience on a sunny day in a crowded room.
Lilia's school had fresh, cut-up veggies like carrots and cucumbers, and they even had cherry tomatoes--a favorite of young children for their explodability. They also had whole apples and pears to eat, as well as salad and canned pears. Today we had our choice of orange juice, chocolate milk, 1 % milk, or 2 % milk. In my day, we only had the choice of white milk, until high school. Then we could choose between white or chocolate milk.
We sat at the first grader's table. We got lots of stares and whispers in front of our backs. I've forgotten how non-sly elementary students are. Were they whispering about us? Uh, well, they would look at us, and while looking at us, they'd put their hand against the other person's face and whisper behind the flesh curtain. I can guess at what they were whispering about:
"That mom should not be at our table. This table is reserved for the 'cool' first graders. She is so not cool."
Lissy felt uneasy being at the 1st grader's table, so we moved to a different table that had no one sitting at it. When the fourth graders started filing into the lunchroom, Lilia said she was getting scared as well. But then her "buddy" reader came in and waved at her. That made her feel better. She really likes her "buddy" reader; an older child assigned to the kindergartners to help them with their reading.
My heart grows nostaligic at the end of school year and at the beginning of school year. Fear, joy, excitement, sadness, happiness: all those emotions bawled into one. And now my girls will be able to experience all that school has to offer.
I asked Lilia after we left, would you like to eat school lunch or have me prepare you a lunch and eat it at school? Her answer is she would prefer the school lunch. I guess that doesn't bode well for my cooking skills. Or maybe it does?...