Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scolded by the lunch lady

I did "teacher time out" at Jacob's school today. That is, I took Jacob's class to the cafeteria for lunch so his teacher could get a break. It started out well enough. I talked with one of Jacob's friends about The Hunger Games. Another kid and I chatted about how much we like cheese. Jacob told me to stop eating his goldfish. Just a regular fun lunch with the class. I noticed that the noise level seemed to be rising, but I figured that was just normal for three classes of 9 and 10 year olds - but then Jacob said: "Mom. It's getting too loud. She's looking at us. Do something or she will make it a quiet lunch!!!" So I tried: "Hey guys. Let's just lower our voices a bit. Okay? You can talk. Just keep it down. Okay? Great!" But they pretty much kept right on talking at the same volume, and then it happened:

"Boys and girls!! It is VERY loud in here! It sounds like there are TWICE as many children in the room as there actually are. This is your warning. If I have to talk to you again . . . we will have a quiet lunch." {collective gasp} Then this lady looked directly at our table and pointed, and I SWEAR she made eye contact with me, and said: "THAT table! Boys, I KNOW you are being loud because I can HEAR your loud voices."

Doh! I have one job to do - get these kids to the cafeteria and back without losing any of them and without getting hit with a quiet lunch (well I guess that's technically three jobs) and I'm failing spectacularly!! And then the flashbacks began, and I was magically transported back 30 years, where the Community School lunch lady was back in my face saying "I think I may need to call you Chatty Cathy." Then I heard Jacob rattling in my ear: "See mom? I told you! I told you!"

After the warning, everyone was quiet for like a minute and then started to get loud again. I asked Jacob: "how often do you have a quiet lunch?" and he said "oh, AT LEAST once a week." And suddenly I was filled with a steely determination. I looked him in the eye and said "Not on my watch."

I knew I had to take control of the situation or forever live with the shame of getting hit with a quiet lunch on my shift. I decided to first try the "take pity on the poor mom" approach: "Guys? Guys! Dude. What's your name? Aiden? Okay look, Aiden. It's really embarrassing if the class gets a quiet lunch when you're the teacher time out. Help a mom out here, okay? You can talk, just don't yell. Please? Thank you."

I asked Jacob how much time was left. Fifteen minutes!! Thankfully, at that point a bunch of them had to go to the bathroom, which presented its own set of complications (school-wide buddy system for boys after the rogue "pee on the floor" incident; not exactly sure how many of them I was allowed release at once, etc.) but the upshot of that was that there were less of them there to make noise, and we were able to run out the clock.

When we got back to the classroom, Jacob's teacher asked how it went. I said "it went great! We got a warning, but we avoided the quiet lunch." She said "awesome job!" I think I could have said "we burned down the kitchen" and she would have told me I did an awesome job, given that she just got to have lunch in peace.

Once again, I am in complete awe of good teachers.

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