A long time ago, in a land far, far away, a kindergarten teacher told me that it makes no sense to have children younger than about third grade buy their lunches at school. Lunch time is but a fleeting moment, a mere glimmer in the middle of the school day. Because younger children tend to eat more slowly, by the time they get in line, purchase a lunch, and find their tables, they barely have a moment to eat before the period is over.
It was with that somewhat cautionary tale in my mind that I made the decision to pack lunches for my kids. All of them. Even Brighid, through high school, preferred taking a packed lunch than buying lunch at school.
So yesterday, I was a bit surprised to hear that Granuaile had tacos for lunch. Tacos? I distinctly remember the child requesting peanut butter and jelly, and I vaguely recall myself honoring that request by making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I also packed fruit, cold water, some panda cookies, and a bag of Sun Chips. But no, I definitely don’t remember packing tacos.
So how did the child get tacos for lunch?
Why, because the teacher gave her a ticket. A ticket? Yes. It’s a ticket. The teacher gives it to you for free, and then you take it to the cafeteria, and the lunch lady gives you tacos. For free.
Do I need to be more diligent in reading the information the school sent home regarding the lunch program? Free, you say? I’m certain I read “$2.75 a day”. What is this “free” ticket the child obtained?
The young one continues.
“Yeah, so, I ate tacos.”
And I say to the small scam artist, “And what is the stain on your shirt?”
“Oh, that’s chocolate milk.”
“But I didn’t pack you chocolate milk.”
“No, but when I got my tacos, they had them in the line, so I took one. Oh, and they had French toast sticks, so I took one of them, too.”
Hmmm. And what about the full lunch box?
“Oh, when I went up to get my free lunch ticket, the teacher asked me what was in my lunch box. I told her you don’t pack me any lunch. So she gave me a free ticket. And I had tacos. And chocolate milk. And French toast sticks. One.”
So, yeah, I do look like the crappy mom who on the second day of first grade opts to starve her child to within inches of death? Or do I send a note into the teacher to ask her to be more diligent in checking Granuaile’s lunch box so that I look like the mother of a budding con artist?
Oh the choices we must make…