40 Reflections #19: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
In my attempt to win the Oscar for “Best Helicopter Mom During Her Children’s Grade School Years” I became a substitute teacher at their Elementary School. One particular fall day, I was asked to substitute as Lunch Room Monitor. Knowing it sounded as fun as running through nettles, I thought, why not – what’s a few hours of muck on my shoes and wiping tables? If I stay home, it’s a push because I’d probably clean up my dog’s gifts in the back yard (muck on my shoes) and clean our over-sized granite island which length resembles that of three “cafeteria tables”. So I set off with my most comfortable shoes, an apron packed in my purse, and lowered my expectations of children’s food choices in a lunchroom, to just above sea level.
The students started rolling in at 10:30 a.m. for lunch. Now for those kid’s who, for whatever reason, did not have breakfast, a 10:30 a.m. lunch is a welcome to their grumbling bellies. Then there were the students, who hadn’t burned a calorie of their breakfast yet, who strolled in, eyes fixed on that one square on the Styrofoam tray, the TOP RIGHT CORNER. The special area that held ICE CREAM! Yes, there above the pale corn, the red apple, the brown entrée and the “fruit cocktail” laid the brightest wrapper money can buy. When unwrapped, the numerous ingredients in the icy surprise were presented on a Popsicle stick. Blue was the most popular choice.
Side Note: let it be known that a child who has a blue tongue any time before noon is destined for some sort of time out experience.
That was 10:30. I continued walking up and down rows, chanting my “eat your apple, drink your milk” mantra, scooted out classes, and wiped tables to prep for incoming groups. After seating and turning over about fifteen 25-tops, I couldn’t help imagining the tips I could make if I could take this lunch monitor gig to the next level. But I stuck to the script, doing my best to turn a blind eye on the uneaten food that was purged.
At the end of my “shift” I was wiping my last table (my daughter’s class), and looked up at the group, when my daughter hurried over saying, “Mama, Elijah is throwing up!” pause–“Who?” “Elijah!” longer pause “Who?” “Elijah!” she half-screamed. Seconds away from crossing the student-child line. (This is the point where your child who is so “well-behaved” at school catapults herself into “home behavior mode” where anything can happen.) In my daughter’s case she caught herself just in time and I finally stopped asking the student’s name – I must have thought I couldn’t actually help unless there was an ID on the guy, or perhaps I was stalling? Ah, it worked. In walked their teacher who I gently notified “Elijah (now I know who it is) is throwing up – sorry.” She walked right over to him as he was in the process and sternly said, “Why are you doing this again, you just did this yesterday! And I told you to use the trashcan away from our table.” He looked up at her, face poised above the large trashcan. She continued, “Well, just finish and let’s go.”
Wow. I had no idea it could be that easy. No nurse, no clean up. The kid was a professional. His aim was impeccable, and his teacher took care of the rest. I wiped up the stray items on the table, returned my cleaning spray and cardboard-like, non-absorbing paper towels and clocked out.
All in all, a good experience.
By the way, in my effort to be the mom that is “just the right amount of embarrassing” – I kept the apron in my purse. Your welcome, kids.