Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Moment of Silence, plz kthxbye!1!


If you have a child in my daughter's elementary school we should totally get together for a play date you can drive over there any day and have lunch with your kid! Not mine, yours. Mine is busy.

I visited her for lunch today.

(Oh, hey. For those of you keeping score on the job finding process, I had a phone interview yesterday. Haven't heard back. Not sure I want to.)

Anyway, I figured it would be awesome to drive through McDonald's, pick up a "chicken" nugget Happy Meal, and deliver it to her during her lunch break. Note: "Chicken" is in quotes because I think they are something like 40% sawdust. I read an article once. I'll never make that mistake again.

So, my daughter's class tromped in from the playground and she headed over to sit right in front of the Happy Meal. I'm glad it wasn't "just there before I sat down" as I told her or that would have been gross.

The kids were pretty excited about "free ice cream" from the cafeteria, but Gwynyth took special care to inform them multiple times that the label on the little containers clearly stated "Low Fat Frozen Yogurt". I don't think they cared, though.

So we were having a decent conversation. I judged the other parents in absentia by the contents of the lunches they had sent. Snack bags of pre-packaged marshmallows? Multiple Twinkies snack cakes? Warm, individually-packaged chocolate chip pudding? No wonder these third graders are all deranged.

I met Gwynyth's teacher, as well. I hadn't had a chance to do that and I wanted to make as good an impression as possible in my jeans, Gwar t-shirt and flannel (Note: 100% imported Italian flannel) overshirt, but then I noticed a veritable forest of raised hands around me. I raised mine as well, not wanting to look like a trouble-maker, though Gwynyth tried quietly to assure me that my participation in this ritual (the synchronized arm posturing with one of the teachers at the head of another table) was not typically required (or, indeed, welcomed) by visiting adults.

This teacher announced in a Tylenol-slurred drone,"The third grade is being awfully loud, so we will be starting Silent Lunch early."

"Silent Lunch"? What the hell is "Silent Lunch"?

When I was little, the adults were happy when nothing caught on fire at lunch. Boisterous conversation was never treated like a threat to National Security.

The worst we ever got was a "Pick up that Razzle wrapper, young man!" or a resigned,"I've told you before to leave the football outside. Now look what you've done. The impact has loosened the tape holding Garrick's glasses together and he won't stop crying."

Whoa. Flashed back a second there. Weird.

Anyway: Silent Lunch.

These kids have to sit and eat without speaking. I was a little put out, to be honest, and whispered questions to the kids around me,"How silent? Can we clap? Stomp? Whisper? Chew enthusiastically?"

"No. No. No. No." "And no."

Then I started to freak out a little. One little boy dropped a plastic fork to the floor and I stood up and pointed to get his attention before rasping a threatening,"Listen here, you clumsy little punk. I'm not going to detention for you or anybody!"

Then I reported him, though I don't know what if anything was done about it.

And then, some 10 silent minutes later, Gwynyth marched silently back to class.

School Cafeteria just got added to my ever-expanding list of un-fun places to work. Or just be.

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