Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Cafeteria Lady - and other spooky campfire stories...

Just FYI, as I type this, cliff is laughing hysterically and saying "Jump Mandy! Jump!" then "hahahahahahaahHA!" "ooooh!" "Jump mandy! jump!"

I should be concerned and get up, but I'm too mentally exhausted from dealing with stupid people.

So we're on Day 2 of Kindergarten. We're all OK so far. I'm extremely frustrated and in shock at how this "system" works.

Day one was great. The teacher was nice. I got a packet of information from her about drop off/pickup/lunch. It contained almost everything I needed to know that I could have gotten at an orientation and it would have been super duper nice to have had that hand out before the first day of school.

The kids are dropped off and picked up in the cafeteria, regardless of whether they eat or not. But no one knew that on the first day so all the Kindergarteners gathered at the door of assigned room. Cliff did great! No tears! He was awesome.

When I picked him up they were parading to the cafeteria. I was so excited to see him. I had instructed him that morning that I wanted every detail of his day, to which he replied "I can't remember ALL of it mom" (and it hadn't even happened yet!). So as instructed, he told me as much as he could remember about his day. It sounded pretty good.

Today I dropped him off in the cafeteria and hung around. I had packed him a combination breakfast lunch figuring, if he has to wait around in the cafeteria regardless, he may as well have something available to snack on while he waits. So I tried to get him settled at the Kindergarten table where all his friends were eating the school breakfast. Cliff was all confused about what to eat and I explained to him that he could eat his yogurt from his lunchbox and whatever else he wanted out of there. He's not an eater at all so its just a bunch of snacks: grapes, granola bar, yogurt, capri sun, chips, etc etc. So he ate his yogurt and his doritos (yuk) and the janitor lady teased him about eating his lunch for breakfast. I bit my tongue. I followed them when they were escorted to the classroom and watched him play on the Kindergarten playground until they went inside. Some other janitor lady and 2 6th grade-ish girls were the assigned supervision for the kindergarten playground. yes, you read that right. The 2 girls were playing ON the equipment. One of them said "crap". Its not as though I'm a prude and my kid never hears bad words but he doesn't need to hear it from them on the Kindergarten playground! strike 453 against Nichols. OK, maybe its about strike 4. Oh yes, I AM keeping score.

So when I picked him up today, he was at the table in the cafeteria looking forlorn and confused, with a hot lunch in front of him. It was gross first of all, and I had to pay for it second of all, and he had a friggin lunch in his backpack, lastly. He was confused so it was no biggie. So I inquire how does this work since we have to pay for this now...so the teacher, who is equally as overwhelmed and confused, says she'll introduce me to the cafeteria lady.

The cafeteria lady, who looks as though she's just been paroled from Corcoran Women's Prison, asks me if I got "the form". I said "I got the reduced fees/free lunch form. Is there a 'regular' form?" She just stared at me. "I don't qualify for reduced fee lunches. how does this work? I don't have a buck on me right now. Do you keep my kid until I pay, or does the office bill me each month or what?" She just looked and me and stammered about 'the form' some more. She continued to tell me that from today's lunch he's "in the system" (God help us, he's IN the SYSTEM!) and we'll be charged now. Ok, how? Again, does Guido hold my child until I pay or is there a billing format? blank stare. Ok thanks, I'll fill out the form...buh-bye.

About that time the Corcoran Women's prison cafeteria lady (CWPCL) handed some other mother her ass for taking 2 milks and the mom specifically said "Hi, I have 2 milks here, can you bill them on my kids accounts?" (or something to that effect perhaps less articulate, but it was clear even to me.) and the cafeteria lady just flipped the hell out about the milk. Mom who got her ass handed to her was blocking my exit so I was a captive audience. Then CWPCL yelled at a girl who was attempting to leave the choatic scene with a tray full of food. geez. Seriously, I believe everything everyone told me about the public school system after this 5 minute "conversation". I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

So on the way out of the mess, I forgot to sign Cliff out. More on that in a minute.

I sat him down on a bench and explained to him that he will be bringing his breakfast AND his lunch forever and to never get in that line with the crazy cafeteria lady again. Did he understand? He said yes, but his other questions indicated confusion. So we rehearsed. "Ok I'll pretend I'm Mrs. Zachery." "OK!"
"OK children, raise your hand if you are buying a hot lunch today" he started to raise his hand and I shook my head. he smiled and put it down. "Raise your hand if you have a cold lunch, a sack lunch, a boxed lunch, if you brought your lunch" (I tried to think of every possible phrasing for this). He stared at me and I nodded and smiled. So he raised his hand. We repeated this exercise until we both felt like he got it.

So before the hand raising exercise, a well meaning mom overheard our conversation and asked me "did you fill out the form?" "No" I replied "I don't think i qualify for the reduced fee lunches and all that" "Oh", she said "Do you get WIC?" (that's a gov't subsidized food program for "women, infants and children" for those of you not in California or not aware) I silently signed and said "No, no I don't get WIC" She continued. "Well my husband makes $18 and hour and we get WIC and I've never paid for school lunches" "Oh really?" I said, "OK, good to know, thanks! I'll fill out that form"

I have no intention of filling out their effing form and disclosing my effing income that does not effing qualify...and there's nice neat little chart right on the form that says what your income has to be in order to qualify. Pretty sure I can figure it out.

So am I the ONLY parent who has EVER gone through this school who does NOT qualify for government assistance?!?! Puh-lease people!? this is so insane!!!!

So I got home and realized that I forgot to sign him out after that cafeteria chaos. I called the office and said "blah blah blah, son...kindergarten...forgot to sign him out, blah blah" she chuckled a pleasant church lady laugh and said "Oh that's fine, as long as you have him".

I SO wanted to say "Oh I do have him alright. you don't know WHO *I* am, and I'm going to bake him in a pie right now. Thanks!!"

Then I sat down, exasperated and frustrated, and called a magnet school in the neighborhood that has a waiting list a mile long. They don't take any inter-district transfers, the VERY nice lady on the phone said, "because we're a magnet school". I wanted to cry and wail: "But you sound so nice, and pleasant, and possibly intelligent, and my former 6th grade teacher teaches kindergarten there, and there's an afterschool arts program! PLEASE please PLEASE!!!!" But I just whined and said thanks and she apologized and we hung up.

So then I called a private church school who has a preschool up through middle school I think. For Amanda to go there for two HALF days a week, its $426 a month. She is doing two half days now for $152/month!!!!! HOLY CRAP. I didn't even bother to ask what their tuition for elementary school is, or if they use Jesus as a tool to instill shame and manipulate the children (as the last Christian private school did: "Your behavior is making Jesus sad".)

I just about threw the phone across the room. I handed it to Amanda instead, which accomplishes the same end goal. See? I am not allowed to leave this situation. I am stuck here...for some reason. for some MADDENING reason!!!!

I guess if things stay this effed up long enough, I will qualify for free school lunches and they will wear me down to the point of insanity and I will be as stupid as the people that work there and then it won't be frustrating anymore. Where's my "mediocre mom" cape?

Don't other people who are like minded to myself (and by that I mean reasonably intelligent, reasonably sophisticated people...not crazy people) use the public schools? Certainly not all of them can afford private school? are they ALL lucky enough to be in a good district? Am I really all alone here? It sure feels like it.

Well, I'm gonna go fill out "the form" now. (No, not REALLY!)



  1. heh, heh, heh...bake him in a pie...best line EVUH!

    wow, rough crowd! make sure you pat him down for guns an knives at the end of the day! DAYUM!

  2. Shyeah... They're gonna need to pat me down soon!!!
    That cefeteria is ...like corcoran!!!! Lol

  3. OMG, did I laugh and laugh and laugh, ALL the way through this? Yes.

    Also, the cafeteria lady at my son's school CUT HIS LUNCHBOX OPEN WITH A KNIFE when the zipper got stuck. He brought home his utterly ruined lunchbox, I wiggled the zipper, it came unstuck. Me = DISPLEASED.

  4. Hi Sis! You know I can't resist :-) How about homeschool *hee hee* Then YOU can be the crazy lunch lady!

    We're starting school on Monday and perhaps someday my children will tell you stories about how I sometimes behave like a lunatic - ok, maybe not a lunatic but definitely a mom who's lost her marbles!


  5. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  6. thanks Margaret!! glad you're entertained. =)

  7. Ah Kel... I had the same issue when the boys were at Mt. Vernon I never could figure out how the hot lunch thing worked and Jack ate both breakfast and lunch at school almost everyday (even thought he had a sack lunch and a full belly from the breakfast I made him everyday)! The just sent me a bill home with my kids and I took a check in an paid the cafateria guy directly. Don't worry about it it's BCSD they have little in the way of brains!! Love you!!!

  8. I laughed and laughed and laughed! AND I totally know you are MINE! Every detail...I must know every single detail BEFORE I need them. I promise as the kids get older it gets easier. But...as they get older the challenges get more serious. If it is possible...try to enjoy this time.

    I love you!