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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rudolph rerferring and other kindergarten lunch adventures

Yesterday, as a kindergarten lunch volunteer, I was presented with a highly unusual situation- one I should have, but did not see coming.

"Is Rudolph alive?"  one little boy asked me.

"Yes, he is!" another excitedly answered.

"No, he isn't!  My mom told me!  Santa has 8 reindeer! Rudolph isn't real!" vehemently, from a little girl with her mouth full of food.

"He's real, isn't he??" the boy who first braved the question pleaded with me for some answers.

Now, what is a mom to do?  I'm already caught in my own web of lies at home about Santa, his magical appearance down a sooty tunnel, his ability to know everything, to present him so that he is all-knowing and not too creepy.  We sing songs, read books, try to dodge specific questions without too many logistical lies. I've found the less specific we are, the less lies we tell, the less likely we are to be caught in a story that doesn't compute in our 6-year-olds head.  All and all, we've decided that the lies outweigh the damage of deceiving our children. In other words, the dishonesty is worth the freedom to believe in pure magic.  At least that is the story we're going with.

I will admit I was a little irritated with this mom for toting Rudolph-isn't-real propaganda while still feeding the Santa shtick to her youngster but I tried to forgive her (perhaps she had been backed into a corner like I have been countless times, had to think on her feet, and impulsively came up with a non-Rudolph paradigm) and deal with the situation at hand.

I said to the little boy, "Well, what do you think?" but that started a flurry of argument among the group.

Finally I said this, "You know, I don't know the answer about Rudolph but I think it is fine for people to think different things.  So what matters is what you think about it."

He glared at the kill-joy across the table and muttered, "He's real.  He IS."

Meanwhile, there was another little girl with less severe issues.  She just needed more ketchup.

Which brings me to my next story.

A few weeks ago, I was on ketchup duty.  Red squirt bottle in hand I went from child to child painting smiling faces and hearts and stars on their trays to dip their french fries into.  I soon ran dry and went into the kitchen putting on a chipper, friendly face for the stern and serious lunch ladies. They pointed me in the direction of a pitcher full of ketchup.  By pitcher I mean one of those plastic ones that people make summer lemonade in, with the top that twists open or closed and can be removed by pulling up on it.

You see where I'm going with this?

There I was pouring the ketchup into my bottle, pitcher turned at a severe angle to get the thick sauce to pour.  And in the last second before disaster struck I thought, this doesn't seem like a very good set-up.

The next thing I knew the lid slide off and there was ketchup all over my hand and arm, the counter, the floor.  One of the more sober looking lunch ladies glared at me and said, "Well, I'm not your mother. I'm not cleaning it up." 

As if.

I ignored her, set to cleaning, more upset by the waste than by the mess.  Naturally all the other moms helped me because that is what moms do.  I began to make self-depreciating jokes with the lunch ladies ("Do you have anything else you'd like me to pour?" "Are there any job openings around here?") and now when they see me coming, they joke and tease me.

I'm not sure what this means exactly but it is kind of odd that the way into the cold, stone heart of a lunch lady is to make fun of yourself.  Maybe it gives them the upper hand somehow in addition to the ice cream scoop they wield to dish out mashed potato.

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