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 ...

Ben 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 to where he was seated and said, “I’m eating everything, cept THAT.” He poked his fork around in the applesauce. “I KNOW what that stuff is --and ain’t NOBODY can trick me!”

“Right,” I said. “What do you think that is?”

“Ha,” he huffed with total disgust, “that’s what my little brother eats –BABY FOOD!”

What now?

I couldn't believe what I was seeing... Joe Joe was reaching into Weesie’s plate of food, grabbing handfuls of green peas and throwing them with all his might into the air!

“Stop it!” I said, rushing over to him. “Do NOT touch her food again. Do NOT throw another thing. And, after you've picked up EVERY pea off of this floor, come with me... you can stay in for recess.”

He looked surprised. “I lost my recess???”

“That's right... you get to stay inside, and think about how you've acted in here.”

He simply shrugged, picked up all of the peas and dashed back over to my side. "Is dis good enuff? Can I go to recess now?"

Wanting him to see the significance of what he had done, I spoke to him quietly and firmly. “Picture this... EVERYBODY in here throwing peas..." (I wanted him to imagine what a horrific scene that would be.) "That would make a BIG MESS… Right?“

He looked around the large cafeteria - filled with students - and nodded.

I prompted, “Now, wouldn’t that be just AWFUL?”

He considered what I had said and frowned. "Yes'm, dat would be B-A-A-A-D cause den day would ALL lose day 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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