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Monday, September 13, 2010

the lunch lady

I have a cure for the kindergarten blues.

It's called the lunch volunteer.

Maya and I are now the Monday kindergarten lunch volunteers. We (I) even have a name tag. We went in today and Maya sat right down at the table with her big sister and pulled her food out of her backpack with a perma-grin on her little dimpled face. Ella was so proud to have her there and pleased as punch to see me.

First off, it was easy to see how it is that Ella comes home having eaten barely a morsel of her lunch. She just sits there and looks around at everyone. Numerous times I had to prompt her just to get her food out of her bag and open it. I am pleased to say she ate her whole sandwich and about half of her other food today. And yes, this would be my indoctrination into the pushy mom club.

So there I was, making rounds with my ketchup bottle, waiting for little hands to raise in the air indicating their need for my assigned condiment, and I joke not when I say I felt a bit like a rockstar. I knew kids at 3/4 of the tables. I was chatting it up with them like I was making the rounds of a cocktail party, except I was wielding a ketchup bottle instead of a martini and helping to open milk cartons, yogurts and granola bars. I learned the names of all the girls in Ella's class and some of the boys too. I met moms and school staff and got to see the inner workings of Ella's day.

Aside from watching my girls sit together in Ella's school cafeteria, my favorite part was watching Skyler's eyes get huge when she saw me. "What are you doing HERE?" she asked. She kept waving me over, not for assistance, but to talk. On the playground she said, "Mondays are my new favorite day because Suzanne comes to school!" She showed me how she can do the monkey bars, hang upside by her legs, and just how soft her new fleece sweatshirt with the cool zip pocket is. She didn't want to play with any kids- she just wanted to follow me around.

We even got to go out for recess, much to our girls delight. I was so taken by just how much kids want positive adult attention. They surrounded me, asking me questions, telling me about the ache in their ear, showing me their new shoes, asking me to watch this or that. It was quite something to watch Ella, our little girl I was afraid to send out into the world, flanked in other pink-clad little girls. I watched her chase the boys that she always complains chase her. She had told me this year the boys are slower and can't catch her as well as they could at preschool. I told her I thought it was because she was faster and a dawning awareness came over her face as she entertained that possibility.

One of Ella's new friends came up to me and said, "I'm sad. I can't find my friends." I asked her who her friends were. "Her name is Ella," she said. "Well, I'm Ella's mom and I happen to know she is right there." I pointed.

"How are you her mom?" she wanted to know. Then, "Oh, she is busy running and I can't run as fast as she does. " Sad for her, SO happy for Ella.

"I bet you can if you practice," I said. So she took off, making me promise to watch her.

You gotta love little kids.

The school day may be long, the mainstreaming still may feel a bit like a sell out, BUT, our girl is flourishing in school. It was plain as day. Her newly long legs, wider smile and more confident place in the world shows. She has friends. She has fun. It was a strange moment to step back and look at her, knowing that she was in the right place, knowing I couldn't tuck her back into my belly and keep her shielded from the world and, finally feeling like I no longer wanted to. She is her own person and she belongs out in the world.

And thankfully she comes home to us everyday at 2:55.

So I finally pried Maya away and as we drove past the grocery store she asked, "Can we go in there?" "We don't need to," I answered. "But they have cookies in there!!" she told me.

2 comments: said...

I can totally see Skyler's eyes when one of her favorite people shows up at her school lunch! (And was she eating everything and being polite?)

How much fun for you guys! I'm a little jealous, but I love that you get a peek into their lives. And that Ella is such a superstar, not that I didn't know that already.

Amy said...

"I have a cure for the kindergarten blues. It's called the lunch volunteer."
Suzanne - it is so true!! Thursday lunch time is one of the highlights of my week :)

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