Monday, January 26, 2009

The Junior High Lunchroom, or Social Darwinism at its Finest

I don't really need to write this post. All I have to write is "Junior High Lunchroom" and you can see where I'm going, can't you?

I had the "privilege" of being lunchroom monitor at the junior high today for two lunch periods.


Some observations (some positive, others not so much):

Josh has a great group of friends. His table was chatty, happy, and full. Whew.

Josh is not in elementary school anymore. He not only did not come over and give me a hug, he barely acknowledged me. Sigh. I guess that's how it should be, but it's proves he's growing up.

I am glad that Josh's school has a nice amount of diversity. I loved seeing girls in hijab, hearing Spanish, and watching some kids who are African refugees.

I am sad that there was so little mixing of culture. Well, I should say, there was a decent amount of culture mixing, but it seemed to be almost entirely minority cultures mixing. There were many many tables of 100% white kids. Kind of defeats the purpose of diversity.

Some kids are mean. Some kids like to break rules. Is it group mentality? Is it what we fall to without a really loud conscience?

I have some kickin' mom chops. I was there to monitor, not to observe, and I was all over those kids. I shut down a baby carrot food fight, gave the evil eye to some loudies, smiled at the kids who looked like they needed a little encouragement (and is anything sadder than a kid sitting all alone at lunch? About broke my heart every time I saw it), and stopped a chase. Don't mess with me. I am Lunch Mom.

Someone threw up in the hall. Isn't that just the cherry on top?

Two stories to close my lunchroom saga:

First story: I noticed three boys I've known since kindergarten. They're a little quieter, a little more intellectual (OK, they're a little more nerdy. There. I said it). They sat at a table and ate together, which made me glad. Like I said, nothing sadder than eating alone. And then before I could get a handle on what was going on, this group of obviously way-into-themselves boys joined them at the table. And as I moved closer, I saw what was going on...the three boys were getting kicked off of the table. They quietly got up, shoulders slouched, and I got all in the mean boys' faces. I told them off. It didn't do any good. The three kids left and tried to find another table. One of them just took off and went to eat in the hall. It still makes me sick. I wish I could tell their parents how disappointing their boys' behavior was. (I'd want to know so I could kick some sense into my son.)

Second story: First lunch was a little quieter. There were a few tables empty. One table held only one dark-haired boy who was eating quietly. As I watched him, I decided he must be on the spectrum, but pretty high-functioning. I watched him on and off, and noticed a really tall kid approaching, a handsome blond boy who looked like an eighth grader. He came up to the first boy, smiled and said something, and before I knew it, he sat down and they proceeded to have a long conversation. The blond boy spent more than 5 or 6 minutes sitting with the dark-haired boy, gently teasing him and being about the sweetest thing I've ever seen. It was obvious it wasn't the first time they had hung out. I was so moved by this small but important show of friendship. I wish I could tell their parents how amazing their boys' behavior was.

I get to go back next month. Can't wait.


Danielle said...

I am so impressed that you could even stand the smell! The phrase "junior high lunch room" gives me a knot in my stomach. So many memories...not all of them good.

Liz said...

Wow I'm impressed that you survived TWO lunch periods!!! Super MOM! When we first moved to St. George I was going into the 7th grade and I ate lunch by myself for a few weeks. I know, I know, don't cry! It scarred me for life! (It was Jeff that made the comment! Glad he makes YOU laugh...he drives me crazy sometimes!!!)

Lisa said...

That is great that there are some positive things going on. You are very brave to be willing to do that job.

Gaylene said...

What a BRAVE MOM you are! Oh the nightmares this will bring on for me tonight.!!

Camilla said...

Wow, I wish I could see my kids at times like this when it really counts. I SOOOOOOOOO want my kids to be the blond eigth grader. . . .I guess you can only teach them and then it's in their court.

I am with you about the first group of boys-- if my son was in that group I'd TOTALLY want to know!

Jill said...

You go, girl! My mama bear instinct is also pretty strong.

Malisa said...

Maybe I'll have to dye Isaac's hair blonde so he can be like that kid. That's what you meant, right?

Tracy said...

Wow, scenes straight from a movie! So sad, and also so comforting. I just pray I am raising my children to be the one to make the lunchladies proud!!

Jacque Dance said...

Isn't it interesting and engrossing to observe junior high behavior. I love staring the loud kids down in the library - it sometimes works better than shushing. And I absolutely love witnessing those little acts of kindness, like you said. It makes me happy to see kids doing the right thing without anyone prompting them too.

Janae said...

Ok so taking this "observation" to another level. I have observed here in NC at our ward different levels of "acceptance" as well. It's sad to me that GROWN women and men can still treat people in such distaste as they would like they were back in JUNIOR HIGH!Several people have made comments recently to me how they can make it through several weeks of church without so much as one person saying hello to them. HOW SAD IS THAT?!!!! Talk about bringing out the mama bear instinct. I don't know what to do but I really want to do something! I mean I can go out of my way to make them feel welcome but sometimes that isn't enough. I wish there was a way you could just slap it into people to be loving and accepting to everyone. Can you imagine how terrible it must feel to be an adult still being treated like you're in a junior high lunchroom? Ok..that was lengthy and a bit much but you have such great advice. :0)

Debbie and Boys said...

I love how "everyday" this post I'm chatting with you over the phone about the everyday things. I loved how you wrote this with the negative and discouraging, then ending it with the sweetest assurance that there are still good kids giving one of the sweetest gifts-friendship!
Love it!