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She saw me stuff my sandwich back into my lunch box (unfinished of course), she sat right next to me, took my sandwich back out, broke it into pieces and started shoving them in my mouth. I was not hungry but struggled to tell her because just when I was about to, her gloved hands would pop up through my weld eyes shoving more PB&j down my throat. When I, against my will, finished every last lick of my lunch, I waddled outside. I was still wiping tears from my eyes as I went out to the playground.
I went home told my mom all about it. My mom wrote a note for me to give to this lunch lady who insisted on making me finish my whole lunch.
The note read-
Dear Mrs. B,
Please do not worry if Marlee does not eat her lunch at school. She eats a healthy breakfast in the morning, a snack during the day, and a nice dinner at home. She will eat when she is hungry. We are aware of what she is eating at school as she takes home what she does not eat. Thank you for looking out for her!
Dan & Lesa Remenap
I brought the note to her the next day. I walked down the aisle formed by long lunch tables and handed her the note while my eyes were locked on the floor.
She took the note and said, “What is this?” I knew exactly what it was, but I did not know what to say.
“I dunno,” I answered, “my parents just want you to read it.”
She read the note threw it in the trash and said, “I do not know what they are talking about, I have never forced you to eat your food. I just want you to eat enough so you are not hungry throughout the day.”
I did not know what else to do but cry, I remember hanging my head and walking back to my table with welled up eyes.
The next day was the day when I got smart. I did NOT want to cry in the lunchroom another time. On the way to the lunchroom, there are doors to the playground. I decided that I was going to skip lunch and go right down to the playground. I volunteered to be “caboose” of the line for obvious reasons, and as soon as the class walked by the door to the playground I was going to hang a left and head out. I made it to the playground and discovered quickly that recess what not near as much fun as it was with all of my friends, who were eating their lunches, so I hid from everyone until my friends got outside. A recess lady walked passed me looking like she was searching for someone I heard her walkie-talkie,
“She did not eat her lunch today. If you can try and find her. She is wearing a blue dress with pink flowers and flower headband.” the lady squeaked.
I looked down at my outfit, and the next thing you know I was eating lunch in my classroom with my teacher, because I refused to eat with Mrs. B and her nasty lunchroom.
The third day of chaos lead me to become even smarter. Right before lunch, I was going to ask to go to the bathroom. Then I was going to sit in the bathroom stall until everyone left the classroom, go grab my lunch and eat it in the classroom bathroom instead of the lunchroom. Let me just make this clear, a bathroom that only the first graders use at the end of the hallway which the janitors rarely see...it was not sanitary, but it sure was smart. I started having a picnic on the bathroom floor with myself until I heard my teacher walk back into her classroom. I did not think through the fact that she might want to be in her own classroom, but I remained silent until recess was over and I could sneak out when she was occupied with other kids. Until I heard the handle of the bathroom door shake.
“Marlee!” she said as I was licking the peanut butter off of my hands, “What are you doing in here?”
The bell rang and my classmates started rolling in. My teacher stood me up off of the bathroom floor and sat me in my desk seat. She handed everyone their phonics words and began teaching. I sat surrounded by twenty- five students sniffling and shoving crayons up their noses, with my Ticonderoga pencil cemented in my hand and my phonics words listed in front of me. My elementary principal walked into the room and started talking to my teacher. They were talking and looking over at me. I was twiddling with my hairbow and in the most non-casual looking manner. I continued looking up and as soon as I caught eyes with the principal I’d bolt my guilty head down. This continued on repeat. I would build up the courage to look at the lady who I had only seen yell at kids for running, throwing food, and talking back to their teacher and as soon as I made eye contact with her I put my head back down. I was going to get in trouble, and these shenanigans were now becoming serious.
Mrs. C-H tapped my shoulder with her long pink painted fake nails.
“Marlee please come with me,” she said.
I nodded and automatically my eyes started to well. I don’t know what from, her not so familiar, cinnamon Altoid mint breath or the idea that I would be going to the principal's office. Immediately after I stepped foot out of the classroom the wells that had started to form in my eyes became tears. Tears that came out like rapid fire and tears that would not stop.
“Marlee you are not in trouble” she whispered with her finger to her lips hinting at to me to pull myself together. “We are just going to have to talk about how to solve this problem.”
After what seemed like forever, I finally was able to calm myself down and sit down inside of her office. Her fish tank humming and an occasional phone ring took away the awkward silence. Mrs. C-H walked in behind me and made it a point to close the door. My tiny first-grade body was trembling in a seat way to big for me to fill.
“Marlee, Mrs. Arim called me down to your classroom after lunch today. What happened?”
“The lunch lady” I confessed.
After opening up to her about everything that had been happening, she offered to meet with Mrs. B. I assume that she did meet with her because PB&j sandwich was never forced at me again.