5.21.2006

The Lunchroom

On Friday I ate lunch with my students in the "cafeteria"... Elementary school lunch rooms are an interesting and extremely awkward combination of bad food, smelly kid, and absurd rules. The one good thing about the lunch room is that about once every 2 months there is an excellent dish which the lunch staff calls "toodles." They are bready-crysted cheese, and they taste like heaven.

Friday, the students were being served toodles. I decided to join them in the lunchroom, and as I approached their table (they band together like a pack of wolves in the lunchroom), Amber told me to "go away!" I didn't want to intrude, I understand that the elementary school lunch room is a very delicate balance of things, and I didn't want to mess that up, so I instead asked, "hey guys, can I sit here?"


"NO," Amber yelled out.

"YES, she can!" Ray replied with an assurance I didn't think Ray was able to muster (he's not a particularly well liked student in my class).

"Hey, Ms. G, I'm not eating my salad, you want mine?" Rick said, as I started to sit down. This was obviously his way of letting everyone know that he agreed with Ray, without ever having to say that he agreed.

And then, the same way that I had been banished from the table, I was completely accepted. The climate of the table changed, and as Amber started to speak up again about me not sitting at the table, all my other students gave her a look that put her to shame.

"She CAN sit here," Ray repeated.

A few minutes later I offered Amber my bag of chips to make amends. She accepted gracefully, and seemed to enjoy my company at the table. After all, having a teacher at your table gives you talking privledges in an elementary school lunchroom... The security guard has to assume that you're talking about very important things, and not just kid-stuff.

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