The Cafeteria Ladies Have Ways of Making You Pay

Miss C came home from school yesterday with a message stamped on her forearm in black ink.

I noticed it immediately because I am very observant as soon as I’d turned the TV on for Miss C and fixed myself lunch and talked on the phone to my mom.

The stamp says, “Buy Lunch Tickets.”

What the hell…I mean heck…I mean huh?

I asked Miss C what the stamp meant, all the while visions of some net-haired cafeteria lady shamefully waving Miss C’s arm in the air and shouting “THE LITTLE BLONDE GIRL HAS NO MILK MONEY!” danced in my head.

Miss C looked at me as if that was the silliest question ever, because of course, duh, mommy you should know these things. Obviously she is not scarred for life because I forgot to send milk money two days in a row but I felt bad. Especially when she said, “Mommy you’re all the time forgetting to send my money for the cafeteria!” in exaggerated disgust and went back to eating her afternoon snack and watching TV. (See, obviously traumatized.)

I called her teacher to confirm that the kids were going to the cafeteria this week. I just assumed they wouldn’t because schools here are open only half-days this week due to the hellacious weather. My knowledgeable neighbor who has a first grader didn’t know either. I went to a country elementary school so small we ate lunch at our desks and listened to vinyl albums like the GREASE soundtrack for entertainment, so brunch is a foreign concept to me. This is my “when I was a kid I walked 10 miles to school in the snow” story.

I’ll admit to you all that I am a perfectionist, although lately you’d never know it from looking at my house or car (I do put up a good front at the office where my desk is neat and organized). I lovingly packed Miss C’s lunch in her purple Disney Princess lunch box last week during her first full week of kindergarten. I’ve already sent in a check for Weekly Reader and signed up to volunteer for the fall book fair and helped her teacher with a workbook project. Sometimes I am one of those organized mommies. However, I also wear mismatched shoes in public and kill plants and injure myself shopping at WalMart and assume there is no such thing as school brunch.


  1. malia says:

    We were caught unawares, at first, with the whole “brunch” thing on half days, too. JBelle didn’t have but maybe three half days last year and I don’t remember there ever being a “brunch” option. My hubby told me that they are doing it because by incorporating all the elements of a full-school day into a half-day they can count the half-day as a full-day and not have to do make-up days later. Clear as mud right?

  2. RB says:

    Wrote on her!? What the hell!? They brand kids that don’t have lunch money? I would not be at all happy with that. It was an honest mistake that could have been easily resolved with a phone call or an email. Considering my tendency to have FIMD (foot in mouth disease) I know I would already be raising hell!

  3. Blonde Mom says:

    OH no no NO…they didn’t write on her, my bad. It was literally a stamp on her arm.

    No, writing on her would be pretty bad! 😉

    Obviously I am the only one in our house who was fretting about this but Miss C did remind me about her milk money today. I sent a check for $10…enough milk money to cover a month!

  4. RB says:

    Still, the stamp on her arm? Like “Hey Kids, lets stamp your friends that don’t have money this week?” In your case its an oversight, but what about the kid that may not qualify for free or reduced and mom doesn’t have any money this week? I just don’t like it.

  5. mayberry says:

    Our school doesn’t start for another two weeks, but I’ve already been tipped off by another mom that if your kid doesn’t have lunch money, they call you and you have to come in to the school right then and there or else NO LUNCH FOR YOU, kid.

  6. Mamalee says:

    We have to pay for things like milk money and hot lunches weeks in advance – I just got my PACKET from school, letting me know what, how much and when things are due. Just can’t wait for all those fundraisers, too!

  7. Traci says:

    Oh, yeah, This hits home. Last year, when “my” Miss C was in Kindergarden, the TEACHER had to pay for her one day, because my account ran low. I wanted to throw myself off a building. My bookfair volunteering story is traumatic to repeat right now. Just you wait!

  8. Holly Schwendiman says:

    May saving factor this year has been our school joining the “” site/sytem. Now I don’t worry at all as it automatically sends me e-mail notices before automatic withdrawals in the amount I choose when the account needs replenishing. I’d be dead if I had to worry about sending money daily.


  9. Renee says:

    I’ve had cafeteria woes from way back (about 8 years now). I can never figure out their ‘system’ and always seem to owe them money.

  10. Amy says:

    Well, I forgot my son’s apple today. I thought they would be sending home notes if they needed me to bring in something, but that wasn’t the case. No, I was supposed to read the bottom of the sign in sheet for additional crap to bring in. And Ethan said, “MOM, you forgot my apple!” like I was the world’s crappiest mom ever. I did remember everything else, but I am still mad about the apple 😉

  11. jen says:

    Ok – they stamped your child like she was an envelope and then “sent” her home. Makes perfect sense.

    All kidding aside, I’m flabbergasted.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Just remember that it could have been worse.

    Frankly I have no idea how working moms get everything done. I hired a cleaner so that is one less thing that needs to be done. Glen complained until I mentioned that I make more than him now and frankly don’t care if he isn’t thrilled with the idea. :p

    I also asked him if HE would like to clean in the evening after work? He said no, shockingly.

  13. Lisa says:

    That would have pissed me off! I mean, how difficult is it to send a note home in her bag? I could see if you hadn’t paid for her milk all year, but geez!

    I guess it’s a good thing that Miss C wasn’t scarred for life. I can just hear the therapy sessions now….”When I was in kindergarten it all started with the big ole’ lunch lady who stamped my arm when I didn’t have any milk money….”

    I love your writing, Jamie! You’re too funny!

  14. Blonde Mom says:

    Well Miss C is a confident girl and unlike me, blew it off. I was kind of a wimpy kid and this sort of thing would have reduced me to tears. Therapy? Well, hmmm probably not, but I still haven’t recovered from always being picked last for kick ball teams. 😉

  15. Anne says:

    yeah, the stamp is a little insulting. sullying your daughters arm? Can you not send a note home like a real teacher?

    whateverrrrr…mlk ticket milk schmicket.

  16. petite mom blog says:

    Oh my! Stamping your child’s hand! That’s awful b/c the kids don’t understand. Can’t the teacher just put a note in their backpack?

    I forgot to send money once last week but no one said anything. Besides, I think he had leftover money that his teacher or aide lost. I took money to the lunch room this week.

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