When I volunteered to help as a lunch monitor at my son's middle school, I had no idea how little the job would actually be about food. I spent two hours in the cafeteria as an "extra pair of eyes" to help out the staff and insure the safety and well-being of the kids. In the course of those hours, four waves of kids cycled through for lunch periods: eighth graders, seventh graders and two rounds of sixth graders.
Here's what I learned:
For years, I have apparently repressed many memories of middle school. Now I know why.
Many eighth graders look like they are 16 years old.
Many eighth grade girls act like they are 16 years old.
Few eighth grade boys act older than 12 years old.
Most eighth graders spend their lunch hour talking, playing on iGadgets and horsing around. Very little food is consumed.
I use the term "food" loosely. One child had a container of chocolate milk and four chocolate chip cookies in front of him. And nothing else. I wonder if his mother knows.
Seventh graders are loud. REALLY loud.
The noise of seventh graders is not gender-specific.
Whether to impress girls or make others laugh, seventh grade boys like to make themselves look stupid.
Many seventh grade boys use food to do this. I saw one boy repeatedly smash an apple into his forehead. I wonder if his mother knows. A lunch monitor finally took the apple from him and threw it away.
In middle school, Gatorade is the new water.
No one sings the Barney "clean up" song in the cafeteria. Nor do they all clean up. I wonder if there's a correlation.
Sixth graders are quiet and respectful and neat. They eat what's in their lunch boxes and go to the auditorium when they are told. They do this only after cleaning up.
The moral of this experience was, don't give your children money to buy lunch without specific instructions on what lunch should and should not be.
Oh, and keep your child in sixth grade for as long as possible. Their lunch monitors will thank you.