breakfast can be terrifying

It’s like Lord of the Flies downstairs in our cafeteria every morning.  Last year was the first year that our school breakfast became a madhouse, and it’s even worse this year.

The kids get off the bus, come in the door that’s closest to my classroom, and pass me on their way to the cafeteria.  I used to just wave my breakfast eaters on, and have them go straight down without stopping at their cubbies.  Last year, though, breakfast became so overwhelming that I had to get 8th grade helpers to gather up my little ones and escort them down.  Last year’s breakfast helpers were awesome.  This year’s helpers are always a little late, which means that by the time my breakfast kids get downstairs, the lines are long and crowded and crazy.

One little girl went down to breakfast on the first day of school, maybe because she thought she had to.  When she came up, she was sobbing.  The next day she arrived at school and started crying.  I asked her if she wanted breakfast, and she nodded yes, so I sent her down with a teacher.  The day after that, she was almost hysterical when she arrived.

“Honey, are you hungry?”

“No.”

“Did you eat breakfast at home?”

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“Then you don’t need to go downstairs to eat breakfast again!  Come on in the room and sign in.”  She brightened up immediately.  It took a few more days of emails back and forth with Mom (who was wondering, why doesn’t my daughter want to go to school?) and lots of reassurance to my fearful one that she did not have to go to breakfast in the cafeteria.

My tiniest boy (so small I have to lift him up to drink from the water fountain) came up from breakfast crying one day, because he had gotten lost in the crowd and separated from the 8th grade girl who was helping him.  I brought him back down and was appalled.  There were two lines for the two sides of the breakfast table, and both lines had kids pushing and shoving.  Lots of kids started budging ahead, so there was a crush at the front, and kids yelling at each other.  Some were even fighting.  I ended up taking one miscreant to his first grade teacher, once my little guy was safe at the table.

Why is there no adult keeping order with the lines?!  I asked the Princess, somewhat more diplomatically, and didn’t get much of a response.

If all my little ones become traumatized by the cafeteria, I would not be surprised.

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