Around February, Hazel decided school was too long and didn't want to go. Every morning Jed and I would go through the same routine, and just as we were tip-toeing out the door, fingers crossed that all was well, Hazel would burst into tears about how looooooooooong school was and how, even though she liked school, it was just so looooooooong! We'd spend the next 30 minutes (sometimes outside her classroom door) trying to convince her to go. I made a deal with Hazel that I would meet her for lunch one day a week so she had something to look forward to. I've had a surprisingly fun time. Hazel hardly gives me the time of day. Okay, she does smile and she sometimes holds my hand. She just shows excitement a little differently than some of the other girls who jump on me and beg me to sit by them (I'm pretty much super popular).
In my time lunching, I've seen a lot of gross looking school lunch--which more than half of the kids get-- and watched a lot of food trades. One day, a trio of girls were raising their hands for all the things they liked (ice cream, pink, cats) and not raising their hands on things they didn't like. When the voting moved onto other girls in the class, I put a stop to the game (you're welcome).
I now know that Oliver is the Peanut Butter master, but he doesn't like it on a sandwich--just in a Tupperware to dip things in. Gavin's mom packs pepperoni for him since he won't eat any other protein, Bronx always has an enviable lunch, Margaret always wants to share treats, the trio tries to steal things from the boys' lunches and everyone is always begging Tai to trade with them. Oh, and if you forget a drink, you can raise your hand and Mrs. Pratt will get you a free milk.
Hazel and I sit quietly until I interrupt the silence and ask a few questions and tell her she looks pretty. She'll nod thanks, answer my questions and work on finishing most (but not all) of her lunch. She saves the rest for after school. I walk her to her class to grab her jacket and put her lunch box away and turn her back to her friends. And as grateful as I am for those friends, I think I'll always hate leaving her. As I watch her walk down the hall until I can't see her anymore, I agree wholeheartedly: school is way too long.