I've been having lunch with Julia at school once a week since she was in kindergarten and I've about HAD IT with something. Not the kids -- they are lots of fun. Not the food -- I bring my own. It's the teachers on cafeteria duty.
Every single time I've been there, these women are on the verge of having coronaries over the noise in the lunchroom. They walk up and down the aisles yelling at kids to be quiet. When that doesn't work, they turn off the lights and put all the kids on "silence." (Fun way to spend lunch with your child.) They have also had all the kids sit on one side of the table to cut down on noise. But none of these things seem to work. Do you know why? Because when you pack a not-huge room full of kids, there will be noise. But the teachers don't get it. So they just keep yelling.
When I was there last week, a sweet little guy in Julia's class got in trouble for trying to help Jenna figure out her Burger King Kid's Meal toy. That same day, I saw a girl sitting alone at a table as I was leaving. She was in Julia's class last year. She's really sweet, too -- a Katrina refugee who never got to go home. I spoke to her and mentioned I had seen her picture in the paper a few days earlier from when she marched in the local MLK Day parade. She just smiled and nodded, and I realized I wasn't supposed to be talking to her. She was sitting alone because she was in trouble for talking too loud.
It was bad in Baytown, too. This one lunchroom lady was always screaming at the bilingual kids in Spanish to shut up. (I lived in New Mexico as a kid long enough to pick up a few words.) This was when Jenna was a newborn, and the woman would come over to us and make a fuss about how cute Jenna was. Then she would turn back around and scream at the Hispanic kids to shut up again. She was so excited about her retirement at the end of that year. So were we.
I just think our kids work hard in school and shouldn't have to be constantly berated during lunchtime. I wouldn't want to spend my lunch hour like that every day.
Sort-of a sidenote: The other day, Julia's class had read a paragraph about how to make fruit kabobs (spearing fruit on a toothpick to serve at parties). Julia thought it was a neat idea. So at lunch, she took her Capri Sun straw and stuck it through the mango slices I had packed in her lunch. She got in trouble with a teacher in the cafeteria for "playing with her food." Hey, at least she was being quiet.