Oh, Puh…lease…Kids Don’t Have Enough Time for Lunch?


I spent 19 years teaching at this school–Hugh B. Bain Jr. High in Cranston, after 4 years at Park View Jr. High.  Then I followed my Bain experience by teaching at Cranston East High School for 8 years (some of my kids I had at both schools felt they’d been dropped into a time warp.)  Those years followed my own 12+ years in public school and 4 years in college…All that makes me an expert at ‘dining’ in institutional settings….

So, the kids are screaming “Not enough time,” for lunch. Teachers could tell them a thing or two about that…..as in…

“Give me a break—It’s always been this way.” How do I know?  I was a teacher for 30 years, and we all functioned in those time constraints. Here’s the way the day goes—for teachers.

A teacher usually breakfasts around 5:30 A.M.—if she can eat that early– and because of this, she will most assuredly become ravenous and want lunch by 10:45.  Now both times would be considered woefully early to anyone outside the field of education.

The rest of the working world doesn’t feel the need to force-feed themselves at dawn because they have a mid-morning snack.  But if the teacher doesn’t eat at that early hour, she doesn’t eat at all.

Coincidentally, at the teacher’s lunchtime, the rest of the working world is, most probably, evolving to mid-morning clarity and just considering a mid-day repast at around 1:00 P.M.  But, by 1:00, teachers in America’s classrooms are limping through the last period of a full workday that has seen them wind up and deliver as many as 5, 50-minute innings of non-stop class interaction with approximately 150 students on a good day (or ‘bad’ depending how you view it.)….

The rest of the normal 24 hour period of a teacher’s life presents other striking disparities:  The teacher’s family eats their evening meal by 5:00 P.M, with an eventual winding down of the day’s activities in preparation for the household’s bedtime by 9:00 P.M. 

That means they retire and awaken in the dark. If any doubt this, let them call a teacher’s family after their self-imposed curfew on any week night. The only response is the answering machine. The occupants have already doused the lights, battened down the hatches, and gone to bed.

The schedule hardly seems foreign to the teacher or her family.  It’s others’ behavior that appears strange. 

Consider the teacher socializing with non-teaching friends on Saturdays.  While all anticipate a relaxed mid-day meal, she’s the vocal exception:  “What?—You want to eat lunch at 1:00? (asks the teacher.)  “Are you crazy?” “ I can’t wait that long!”

The rest of the group stare in disbelief, failing to realize that such a delay would be a physical impossibility for their teacher-friend whose body clock will not allow the irregularity.

They’ll soon discover other strange behavior, too. Whereas they’re ready for a leisure lunch lasting an hour or more, the teacher has already wolfed down everything on her tray, within minutes of her bringing it to table.

Then, too, she’s engaged friends with questions about their spouses and family; reapplied her makeup; and cleared away all remnants of her long-since disappeared meal while the rest of her group begins on salads.

You see, the teacher’s a master at juggling multiple tasks in a short segment of time.  The only thing she’s not used to is relaxed mealtime engagement between her and the rest of humanity.

Oh, she’s no social boor. She’s merely a product of conditioning which has seen her go from 16+ years as a student (college years, too) to many more as teacher, both of which mandate she complete the entire lunch sequence in a mere 15 minutes. She’s long-since discarded the parent directive:” Don’t talk with your mouth full.” 

If she doesn’t avail herself of minimal opportunity to interact with adults at this time, her entire day will be spent with adolescents… neither beneficial nor healthy for any concerned.

No, don’t tell us teachers about kids’ complaints they have ‘too little time for lunch.’  They always finished even faster than we did—5 minutes, tops,  so they could spend most of their time  on the really important part of their lunchtime–socializing.

Now, here’s the article that prompted my teacher’s response…And I’d love to know, too, from my former “kids”  “How many of you needed longer than 15 minutes to eat your lunches?” Let’s all be honest:  Former Park Viewers, Bainites or Cranston East kids… weigh in…please.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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