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School Cafeterias: No Place For Parents

School Cafeterias: No Place For Parents

I’m not proud of this, but when my daughter was in 2nd grade I committed a serious parental sin.

I boarded her school bus. 

It happened only once. Yet she still throws it up at me, although not as often as she did for the first 15 years after that awful incident.

After she left for school one morning I spied a colorful folder on the dining room table and realized it was her homework. Instead of letting her get in trouble, I did something unthinkable.

I hopped in my car and ran down her school bus.

When it stopped to pick up a load of kids, I jumped on. At first I couldn’t find her. Then I spotted her, sinking in her seat with a horrified look on her face.

“Your homework!” I called out, smiling and holding the folder aloft as I made my way down the aisle, greeting a couple of the dumbfounded kids by name along the way.

She was shaking her head. No, no, no.

“Here you go!“ I chirped, when I reached her.

“It’s due tomorrow,” she hissed. “Please go.”

“Geez, I was just trying to help,” I muttered as I slunk off the bus.

That night she was livid. 

“You BOARDED my bus!” she spat. “You can’t do that. Moms don’t come on buses. Everyone was laughing.”

“At you?” I asked indignantly. 

“No, at YOU!”

I apologized for embarrassing her. I promised I’d never do it again.

That’s when I learned that school buses are exclusively kids’ territory. Places where children interact - and act up - far from their parents’ watchful eyes. It’s where they settle scores, jockey for seats, develop crushes, learn to cuss. It is no place for moms and dads.

Which brings us to Darien, CT., an affluent Northeastern enclave - median income is $200,000 - where some parents are in a snit because they’ve been banned from public school cafeterias.

Apparently members of the Darien leisure class were dashing into school daily to dine with their darlings. Eventually the situation became disruptive. Now they’re banished.

“One mother shed tears when she read the superintendent's announcement,” reported the AP. “Another said it felt like a body blow.”

Hold on. A mother CRIED because she couldn’t eat lunch on a tiny chair in an elementary school cafeteria? That’s some fish finger addiction. 

Frankly, weeping and gnashing of teeth is not a normal adult reaction to disappointing news. Looks like Darien might have a mass case of arrested development

At a recent meeting between school brass and bawling Darien helicopter parents, the AP says some mothers insisted that “the midday visits allowed them to see how their children were faring and to help them resolve friction with other children. For the youngest children, they could offer help opening milk cartons and finding items in the lunchrooms.”

Just as I suspected. These parents, the same busybodies who schedule play dates where they vigilantly enforce “sharing” rules and push healthy snacks, want to meddle in the only 30 minutes of the day when kids get to act like, well, kids.

A kid who can’t open a milk carton or “find items” in a school cafeteria without Mommy is going to have big problems later in life.

God gave kids teeth so they could chew their way through a waxed carton.

“Terry Steadman, a parent, told the board she was shocked and driven to tears by the news,” reports the AP. “To just ban parents from the lunchroom, which is effectively what you're doing...I don't think it's right. I don't think it's in the spirit of a collaborative environment.”

Oh please. 

There’s nothing collaborative about a school cafeteria. It’s Lord of the Flies country. And that’s good for kids as long as violence doesn’t break out. If it does, teachers are there to restore order. 

These lunchroom parents need to get a life. Better yet, get jobs. The kind where you eat with people your own age.

Come to think of it, once, at my son’s Catholic elementary school, parents were invited to lunch with the kids. Most seemed unable to attend but I was a newspaper columnist waiting for the muse, so there I was. I sat with my son and his best buddy where I watched with a mixture of amazement and revulsion as the other little boy ate an entire container of chocolate pudding. With his index finger.

I never suggested a spoon. I didn’t tell his mom. I knew better.


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