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there really is no such thing as free lunch

April 3, 2014

quietMany years ago, when The Boy was four, he went to Pre K at a church, as part of a Mother’s Day Out type program. We loved the program. I could walk my babies to school in our little red wagon. I’m all nostalgic just thinking about it. I can’t think of many things we didn’t like about that little school. Except one.
Silent Lunch.
What? They’re four. Isn’t this play school? Sure, they’ll learn their colors and numbers, but it’s supposed to be fun. The Boy came home and said he’d gotten in trouble for playing I Spy at lunch. No one asked me, but if they did, I would’ve told them how cute that is. A table of four year olds playing I Spy, while they eat their PB&J and Goldfish. I didn’t want to undermine the teachers, and I didn’t tell him to deliberately talk during silent lunch, but I let him know there wouldn’t be home consequences for getting in “trouble” for it at school.
Now, before I tell the rest of the story, know this: I love my kids’ school. We couldn’t have better teachers. I’m not trying to stir up trouble or the like. I’m not planning to raise a stinkstorm about it. I am confused, though. I’ve heard the reasons for and against, but there’s one thing I don’t like about our school.
Silent Lunch.
We aren’t the only school who does it. From what I hear, most do these days. “Kids need to stop talking and eat,” and “The talking gets out of hand so quickly,” and “Blah,” and “Blah,” and “Blah.” They’re kids, folks. They’re asked to sit still all day, with the brief exception of PE or a quick recess. Shouldn’t they be able to chat with their buddies while they eat?
In most elementary schools, Silent Lunch only lasts for part of the time. It’s that way at our school. I see what they’re saying. Let the kids eat first, then, as long as it doesn’t get too loud, they can talk quietly. It makes sense. BUT.
The Boy isn’t my talkative kid. My daughter is the one who should be getting in trouble for talking to her friend at lunch. Fortunately, she is also a serious rule follower, and she knows when to be quiet. The Boy has been sent to the trouble table for talking during Silent Lunch.
Look, I’m all for rules and teaching kids to follow them. I also think they should eat. If my kid does wrong, he should be punished. I’m just not sure about the need for this rule. They also need a break.
The Boy was separated from his friend this week. They can’t sit next to one another at lunch anymore. They were talking about a book they are writing, not picking on anyone around them or talking loudly. If you want the truth and can keep a secret, they’re writing the 8th Harry Potter book, which is good, since college won’t pay for itself. For copyright reasons, I can’t disclose the name, but JK Rowling really missed an opportunity.
In all seriousness, I respect the school for what they’re trying to do. The teachers who supervise in the lunchroom don’t want to be police. I won’t get in the way of rules already in place, either. I do think kids need time to be kids. Because of increasing standards and state regulations, recess is limited. They go to music, PE, and art less now than ever. Sure, school is for learning, but it’s for learning about more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, especially when they’re at the elementary level.
If you think I’m nuts, I’m inclined to agree. Hear me out, though. The next time you’re at a restaurant with friends, suggest Silent Lunch. It’ll be fun. Set a timer. No talking until the timer beeps. Sounds silly, right? We’re supposed enjoy mealtime, unless we’re in prison. Let that settle in. Silent Lunch would be great for prison. Lunches in Richmond County may not cost us a single cent, but our kids are paying the price.

Originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta GA, 3/27/14

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 3, 2014 4:21 pm

    I am with you on that. They used to do that at a private school too. Such angry faces by the teachers. Sit there like a good dog and eat quietly. Worse, some kids with tons of energy had to “stand on the wall” for consecutive recess periods!! Channel that chatter somewhere good, but make the point not to be too noisy!! I don’t have the solution, but I have been where you are. ML

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