When Do We Eat?
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

When do we eat is the most common question I'm asked every day of every school year in the first grade classroom ... I'm so glad the schools serve breakfast, but I have to wonder how many of the students take the time to go eat!

For example, early this morning, Ben wanted to know ...

"When do we eat?" he asked. He was standing next to me, bumping his tubby little body against my desk. "I'm hungry!"

"Please stop that," I said. "I'm trying to write."

"I can't help it," he said, suddenly amazed with himself. "It's my belly. LOOK! It makes me bounce right back!"

A little later ...

Ben returned to me, whining. "What time's lunch?" he pleaded. "I'm hungry. And now I'm running on empty!"

Just a Minute

Out of the blue, Joe Joe stood and made an announcement, “I'm about to starve to DEAF!" When we gunna go eat?"

"Shhh," I said, and then mouthed the words, “in just a minute.”

He scowled, clenched his teeth, and blasted, “That's what my momma always says! I just HATE minutes … They take so long!"

Oops! ... How many of us - parents and teachers - are guilty of that? I just proved that I am!

School Cafeteria

In the school cafeteria ...

Joe Joe had finished eating before I sat down. Suddenly, he burped loudly and proudly!

Then he saw the displeased look on my face.

Dropping his chin to his chest, he tried his best to make up for what he had done.

“S-cuse me,” he said, trying his best to be polite. “Please pass the toilet paper!”

A few minutes later ...

Joe Joe called me over and said, “I’m eating everything, except that!”

He poked his fork around in the applesauce. “I KNOW what that stuff is. And ain’t NOBODY can trick me.”

I was amused. “What do you think that is, Joe Joe?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Ha! That’s what my brother eats – BABY FOOD!”

What now?

Joe Joe was reaching into Weesie’s food tray, grabbing handfuls of green peas and throwing them as hard as he could into the air!

“Stop it!” I said. “Do NOT touch her food again. Do NOT throw another thing!"

I rushed over to him. "And, after you've picked up every pea off of this floor, come with me ... You can stay in for recess, and think about what you’ve done.”

Then, he had the nerve to look surprised. “I lost my recess?”

“Uh! Yes, you did.”

Without another word, he simply shrugged, picked up all of the peas and returned to me.

Wanting him to see the significance of what he had done, I spoke to him quietly and firmly. “Now, imagine what it would be like if everybody in here were throwing peas!”

He nodded.

I prompted, Wouldn’t that be AWFUL?”

His eyes grew large. “Yes’m,” he said, grimacing. “That'd be baaaad ... Then they’d ALL lose their recess!”

A Clean Plate

The next day ...

We were leaving the cafeteria today whenever Joe Joe ran up to me holding his lunch tray.

His little mouth and hands were covered in wet clumps of brown and orange. Was that food?

"I have a 'portant question," he said. “What do I do with my fork?” He nodded to where it lay on his tray.

“See? It’s clean!” He shouted triumphantly, “I didn’t touch it!”

Back in the classroom ...

Joe Joe motioned for me to come see him. He was frantically erasing a page. “Look, my eraser’s HUNGRY! He’s picking up all this scribble work!”

He was appropriately impressed until he thought about it. “Say, but where’s he putting it?”

* * *

I'm always concerned whenever it's the same student who is constantly saying, "When do we eat?" Yep, we teachers check into those kinds of situations also.
Just to be sure.

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