“There were mice in the cafeteria!” My son never offers me information about his day. I only find things out by dragging the answers out of him, one question at a time. It’s a very tedious undertaking, one in which both of us get tired by the end. That all changed today. Apparently there were mice in the cafeteria. Four of them to be exact.
I had the honor of picking my son up from school today, due to an early dismissal caused by torrential rains and flooding. As soon as we stepped outside of the school building, my son excitedly reported, “There were mice in the cafeteria! But, I didn’t see anything.” He was disappointed that he missed seeing the scurrying little critters, but very excited about the “chaos” it caused in the cafeteria. I didn’t even know that my son knew the word “chaos”, so that was a proud moment.
School cafeterias have always had a bad reputation. His mouse adventure today reminded me of my own cafeteria encounter. One day my elementary school teachers invited all the parents to come have lunch with their children. Being a Momma’s girl, I was very excited about it. I thought about how much fun it was going to be sitting there, having lunch with my Mom around all my peers. It was going to be such an honor to have her there with me. All day I looked forward to the lunch hour to come. Finally, the time came and my Mom arrived at the school.
I was beaming with joy! We walked together in the food line, grabbed our lunch trays and had them filled with that day’s specialty, hamburgers. We happily walked over to one of the long rectangular tables in the cafeteria and took our seats. We chatted for a moment about school and how excited I was to have her there.
Then, we took a big bite into our hamburgers. When I bit down, my tooth caught something hard. With caution and a fair amount of fear, I peeked inside to see what I had just bitten down on. A stick was in my burger! A small one, but regardless it was still a stick. How does a stick get into a burger? I was so humiliated that my school had done this. “How dare they!”, I thought. This day that I had so much looked forward to, had just been ruined by a stick in my burger. My Mom should have been welcomed with gourmet food, not stick burgers. I was so embarrassed. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I ever invited my Mom to school for lunch.
As for today, all I can hope is that the mice stayed on the floor and didn’t actually get in the food. Either way, those little mice made my son’s day. As disgusting as it was, it was worth it to see him with a big smile across his face and with a story to tell. He even made up a song about it, called “Mice in the Cafeteria” on our way home. Somehow in the song, the mice started carrying diseases and making people sick, but he found it amusing and that’s all that matters.
The horrors of the school cafeteria seem to go on for generations. I wonder if their reputation will forever stay the same. One thing is for certain – mice are not the answer.