Last week, Gus and I decided it was time to see what this school lunch thing is all about. I'm sick of making lunches, and he's sick of eating them. But I could not for the life of me find one piece of paper that included all of the instructions for procuring a school lunch. Instead: A menu. A price list. And a letter with Gus's cafeteria PIN that said "PLEASE do not lose this number." But nothing that said, "send a check with your child, and make it out to such-and-such to cover meals for the day/week/year, and we will apply it to his/her account, debiting each day as he enters his pin." I just inferred that part.
Gus hates when I infer. So he's walking into this school lunch situation on a check and a prayer, hoping I am not going to make an ass out of him. The check/pin number piece goes off without a hitch (inference is my specialty), but then on the second day, he asks for two meats, and the lunch lady scolds him.
That night he lays into me.
How was lunch?
HORRIBLE. I took TWO MEATS. I can't go back there ever again, it was SO embarrassing. The lunch lady screamed at me. Why didn't you TELL me? Please don't make me buy lunch ever again. PROMISE me.
(I did make him go back, though. We had a long talk about how it's okay to not know things, and to ask questions when you're not sure of a rule. And now he's all Yoda Lunch Master, feeling good.)
Then there's Patrick. I try extra hard not to screw this kid over, because unlike Gus, he won't come out and tell me I've embarrassed him. I have to wait until he breaks out in hives.
So yesterday, he hands me this note and runs out of the kitchen.
The shame of having to receive a Lion Lunch.
I might as well have sent him to school with food stamps.
"Did you cry?" I asked.
KILL ME NOW.
I remember my dad telling me how as a boy, when he'd just moved to the United States, my grandmother would pack him these mortifying Italian sandwiches, dripping with HUMILIATING fresh meats and cheeses and vegetables. Extra virgin olive oil, I imagine, staining the brown paper sack.
And then there was my third grade class field trip to the Museum of Natural History. My mother had put my grape soda in the freezer the night before, so it would still be cold by lunchtime. We ended up eating early, and I set off a grape geyser in the middle of Central Park. People clapped. I cried.
I guess it's just what character and memories are made of. Or does my family just suck at this?