Monday, September 13, 2010

The Real Cost of a Spork

So, Duncan came home early last week and said, "Mom, the lady in the cafeteria told me to tell you to put a spoon in my lunch or a nickel, because sporks cost five cents." The look on my face must have been telling, because he was like, "no, really."

Some background. Duncan attends a public elementary where approximately 88% of the kids qualify for free lunch (and breakfast!). As someone put it, he is the "rich kid". Note: I drive a used minivan, we live in a 1600 square foot home and most of our furniture is hand me downs. We do not even have a headboard. But, I am blessed and fortunate...just not rich. So, the whole incident just did not sit well with us. Almost everyone gets a free lunch, but our kid can't get a stupid plastic spork without shelling out a nickel. We grumbled and laughed about how Iain would storm into the lunchroom, throwing sporks about and making a fuss.

So, the following Monday, Iain sent an email to the "school liaison" asking her if this was indeed true (because you never know with a five year old) and she said yes. He also brought up the fact that he had offered to build the school a website and was basically told "talk to the hand." This is a poor school. It has poor parents. Free lunches. Not alot of resources. It seemed counter intuitive that they would turn down an opportunity to have someone build them a website, where they could put the school calendar, announcements, accomplishments, and contact information. Because right now? If you don't see it on the sign in front of the school, for which most of the alphabet is missing and they use a backwards 3 for an "E", then you have a hard time figuring it out.

At this point, the principal got involved and again expressed reticence over a website. Because as we all know, it's just a fad. Her emails got more and more terse and when Iain asked repeatedly for an email list for contacts at the school, and getting a few hand-picked names and addresses, she told him she does not give that to the "general public." Okay. So, this is what we are up against. And it's frustrating. I think we all tried to have a really good attitude about this school, and we certainly never say anything negative in front of Duncan. Perhaps this is part of being in the very large public school system. And Duncan's teary, weepy, sad -faced good byes are more about him being separated from us than from the school itself. But it's still hard and frustrating and I know that people are having happy experiences with kindergarten and kids that walk through the door without tears and not letting go of mom at this point.

So, we forge ahead, trying to build a good relationship with his teacher and planning to attend the first PTA meeting next Tuesday. Duncan seems to have made some real friendships already and is happy with his teacher. He likes going to the library (they go for two weeks, then rotate with gym, art, music and computers, I think) and eating lunch in the cafeteria. He likes Lila, Maurice, Melvin and Maya. He says good bye to everyone in the hallway in the afternoon. He even likes the janitor (who is very sweet and funny...I can see why.) So, there are bright spots but there are also some real frustrations for us as parents. I suppose it would be worse if it were the other way around.



  1. Oh Christie, WOW is all I can say... Breathe and pray. Breathe and pray. And then put your house back on the market in a few months. :-) In an effort to hopefully make you maybe feel a tad bit better, I've had my own battles with our school's cafeteria manager this year. My kids attend a Title 1 School (40% of students receive free breakfasts and lunches). Avery one day asked for a roll at lunch and was told she couldn't have it because it cost a quarter. What?!?! I'll pay the quarter, thanks, now give my kid the roll the next time she asks for it... Another time, Samuel ordered chicken nuggets, a roll, milk and a cookie (which he and I had talked about beforehand and I was okay with it because he REALLY wanted to get a hot lunch). The cafeteria manager charged him for everything a la carte, which cost over $3.00. When I asked her why she did that, she told me it was because he didn't get the standard tray lunch which also consists of a fruit and 2 veggies. I see, so he got less food and got charged more. That makes sense. Next time I'll have him get the fruit and 2 veggies and just have him throw it away and waste it like everyone else so that I'll only get charged $2.15. It seems so backwards sometimes, right? Breathe and pray. Whew... :-)

  2. My old department head never wanted us to have a website at work because "it would just need to be updated." And apparently this would be too hard. Maybe you could do this through the PTA.

    I think you should buy some sporks in bulk and have Duncan sell them at lunch to make a little walking around money.