Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Sons Have Found That School Is The Easiest Way To Bleed My Wallet

I was pondering over the words of someone else, obviously a parent, that went something like this:

I wonder how it is a 6 year old can still be "starving" AFTER having eaten us out of house and home

It's an interesting thought, that I think we parents all realize, but because of its natural and constant occurrence from one generation through the rest of the generations, we never bother to really pay it any attention. More on the specifics of this later.

Within a month or two of school starting, and the boys both having equal amounts of money in their lunch accounts, I get a notice in their Monday folders that they are low. The oldest one, Josh, was not just low but negative in his account. It took me a while to think this over, and after having had a discussion with him, I found out he was taking some of the little extra "ala carte" items that cost him, or rather his parents (That'd be me and my wife), extra money, and thereby reducing the amount of lunches that can be bought before I have to go about writing another check to the local school nutrition department. So we got that straightened out...well mostly. I found out through the lady in the school office today that he still occasionally does this, but not everyday like he used to.

So I get home from work this morning and my wife tells me I have errands to run. Deposit a check from my parents into our account, and then write a bigger check for the same amount, plus our share to the school for the Spelling Contest Fundraiser. And also pick up some quarters for laundry, and also to write out checks for the boys' school lunch. On the Spelling Contest, I find myself torn.

First off, I am glad we have decent schools for the boys to go to in this district. However, on the flip side of this, I think the local PTC actually raises more money than this school gets funded by the government. Makes me wonder why I should even be paying for lunches regardless of financial ability, or school book fees, or any of that. It seems with all the fundraisers, the entire district's liability should just about break even before the FEDS and State Department of Education begin financial dispersal amongst all the schools. Well, this time around it is the Spelling Contest, and after a little work with his mother Josh goes and manages to get 50 out of 50 words spelled correctly. He got pledge money from both sets of grandparents on this, us, and one of my wife's cousins, and her husband. I have a lot of bills that could use that money, even though my share was only $25, which I have no idea how I let my wife talk me into this. My wallet is saying, "MAKE HIM MISS ALL THE WORDS!!!" My wallet is one cold-hearted individual, but then again he was made from a cow, so I'm sure emotions don't factor into his world. I try not to let them factor into mine, but my wife makes sure that I am overruled on this. Something or another about being compassionate and caring about my sons and their accomplishments, blah blah blah. In My Day...(oh dear sweet baby Jesus, I'm turning into all my older male relatives) our reward was spelling all 50 of those words right and knowing we'd done a good job and learned something. These days, its learning, some praise from mommy, and more money of daddy's going to the local PTC. I'm glad the boy is smart, and it shows when he pays attention and focuses like he did for this spelling contest. Confirms my superior genes of intellect can trump the wildly unfocused free-spirited genes his mother gave him. (Of course if you ask her, she'll blame that on me too. I of course will have already forgotten what the question was before you finish asking)

Now on to the lunch money. We got a bit behind over the month, partially because of some bills that came up unexpectedly, and partially because all these snow days they have had has thrown me off altogether. At almost $3 a lunch, EACH, it doesn't take long for them to eat through the money. And when they come home they are starving little boys, begging for more food like a couple of incarnations of Oliver Twist, only not as polite and timid about it. So I had to make sure to write the check big enough to cover the deficit I allowed to get racked up, as well as the remainder of the month plus a few days. Now, if you remember from before, Josh had his issues of taking he was always a few dollars lower in balance than Corwyn, because I had not re-equalized it as of yet. So I ask the lady to give me the deficit, and she writes down the figures for each boy. Josh was a little over $30 in the hole, but Corwyn was over $50 in the hole, for a total of $91 when all was said and done..just to bring them back up to $0 balances. So I wrote a check for $191 this morning. I was curious as to how the imbalance between Josh and Bug had occurred, so I asked. Corwyn can NOT keep a secret for anything. If anything comes into his head, it will come out of his mouth. However, we had heard absolutely nothing concerning him taking extras at lunchtime, and when asked about it, he denied it. Well, technically he wasn't lying. I was able to see the secretary's desktop screen as she brought up his records of lunchtime swipes and balances. And every other line had the word "BREAKFAST" (which is not included in extras with lunch, clearing him of committing any infractions of lying to us).

I found out that Bug is one of the staff's favorite little kids. He always comes right on into the cafeteria, all happy and smiling, and talks to everybody. And he has breakfast...a big one apparently, and eats everything. This all right after a short ride to school on the bus, which happens right after he eats breakfast AT HOME...a LOT of it. Then some classes and LUNCH. Then some classes and home to ask me for MORE FOOD! 3 full meals in less than 9 hours, and he is still coming home "starving".

Now I remember complaining for years about how the school never fed me enough at lunch...and then we finally got salad bar for all kinds of extras at no additional cost to us, with unlimited trips. I am pretty sure this school that my boys goes to offers the same amenity. Why they should be starving so much is beyond me. I mean if it was tater-tot casserole, or Chef's Surprise Leftover Day, I could see them maybe skipping the biggest portion of lunch and coming home hungry. But these boys get all kinds of good stuff to eat at school, and in a much bigger variety than we ever had. And the reports from staff say they both pretty much devour everything, barely managing to return the tray in the process.

Since having found out my youngest is a little scheister, and sneaking in extra meals, The staff is now well aware that there is to be strictly lunch with no extra items, and no breakfast for either of them. I can only afford to feed them all they can eat, or feed them some of that amount and keep a roof over their head. Both cannot be accomplished with the same amount of money that revolves in and out of my wallet. I was asked if we had applied for free or reduced lunch programs. I told them, and they verified the guidelines that say we need two more kids to qualify at our income level. I said I can make two more kids, but I won't be able to pay for them any better, even with free lunches and breakfasts provided.

I have learned a few things today as I wrote out checks for kid related activities:

Josh will punish me with his intellect. If he is slow on the uptake, it will cost me money for a tutor. If he is excelling, it will cost me money for the PTC. This boy better get a full academic scholarship to any college he chooses to go to!

Corwyn, is a sanguine little hustler. He charms the daylights out of people, especially all the women (who obviously don't realize he's playing them for his own gain), and gets stuff he isn't supposed to be getting, and no one knows the difference until its too late. Luckily Corwyn knows how to administer "face to face" (read here for more on that) so he can resuscitate my wallet in case he kills it. Most likely from extra meals at school. They think he's cute and adorable...all happiness and smiles. But I got to know that boy real well for the first 5 1/2 years of his life... He is something else. I'd blame his mother, but I'm sure there is overwhelming evidence stacked against me.


Becky said...


This was most instructive for when Sophie gets a bit older...

Mookie said...

Yes, not only did I provide life lessons for everybody else by making the mistakes, now I still provide the service to parents by showing what my kids do...