Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lunch with first graders

This morning I forgot to send Ella with lunch money to add to her account, so I decided to surprise her by joining her for lunch and dropping off the money in person. I arrived at school, with Campbell in tow, about 10 minutes before the class left for lunch. I made sure to ask the teacher if it was ok that I was there. I don't know her well enough yet to know whether she allows drop-in visits, and I didn't want to get off on the wrong foot.

Fortunately, she said I had picked the perfect time to arrive because the kids were working on their daily writing workshop. I glanced at Ella's writing sheet and just about had a heart attack. The first word I saw was "bich." I was sure that she was writing about how her mother was a real "bich" sometimes. I took a deep breath and looked again and was relieved to read that instead she had written about her trip to the bich and the fun things she had done. Phew.

I spent the few minutes I was in the class sitting on the floor behind Ella's chair, just watching the goings-on. The teacher seems to run a very calm classroom, and the kids are getting the hang of the routine - most of them at least. One girl drifted over to me and said that she had run out of room on her writing sheet and asked what she should do. Instead of solving the problem for her, I asked what Ms. Sluyter would say to do. The girl thought for a moment and said that the teacher would want her to sit in her seat and raise her hand for help. I suggested that she do that and looked up to see Ms. Sluyter give me an approving nod of thanks. Double phew.

Last year when parents joined their kids for lunch they sat at a special "visitors' table." This year, however, parents and their kids sit at the regular lunch table with the rest of the class. I like this arrangement much better. I know most of the kids in Ella's class because they were all together last year, so it was fun to sit and catch up with them and hear about their summers. I got recaps on their trips to the beach; updates on the numbers of teeth lost, or not lost in one girl's case; and a run down on the new kids in the class. I did get to help one of Ella's classmates, who was sitting in her seat sobbing silently because her stomach hurt; I went and got the lunchroom lady, who escorted the poor girl to the office.

The kids all seemed so big now that they're not the littlest kids in the school. And their conversations are so funny. I didn't learn anything about what goes on in class, but I did get to hear about what's important in their lives - trips, teeth and new friends. Despite the lousy pizza - I ate mine to set a good example for Ella, who didn't fall for it - it was a great lunch.

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