Thursday, May 27, 2010

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Caught joy today telling a story to my friend Linda Christine. We were at our sons' baseball game blabbing about our kids and got on the subject of school band instruments.
I started to tell her about my Michael and how he came to play the sax but then remembered this story was way bigger than just that! Remembered? How could I forget...

In 2002, my husband and I were made permanent guardians of our son Anthony. That's a story for another day. Because we have not formally adopted him yet, the state provides certain services for him - for example - health insurance. Another service they provide is free hot lunch at school. So every August for the last 6 years, we get a letter in the mail that tells us that because we are guardians to Anthony, all 3 of our kids are eligible for free hot lunch. It never occurred to us to use this for all 3 kids, although we did have Anthony use the privilege.

This past August, the letter came and this year, it stopped me in my tracks. Remind me why we only have Anthony use this? I started considering it for a couple of reasons. A) My husband is responsible for preparing lunches for the kids because I am in the gym training all morning B) My kids are crappy eaters and anything you send them to school with never gets eaten! and C) Sick to DEATH of scrounging hot lunch money every freaking time they want to buy instead of bag.

This seemed like a no brainer. Bob flips out goes crazy every morning packing lunches in addition to getting the kids dressed and fed so this would alleviate that stress. And maybe the kids would start to expand their food horizons if they had hot lunch. Afterall, they started eating tacos last year because of hot lunch. Hey! Isn't that progress?

Need I address "C"????

So I spoke to the school about privacy issues (hell - I don't want my kids stereotyped!) and it sounded like it would remain private. So we went for it.

3 weeks later.

4th graders start band this year. So Michael comes home with the "band" packet. What instrument he could play, how much it costs to purchase, how much to lease to buy, blah, blah, blah. He decides he wants to play the sax like Clarence Clemons (you know - Bruce Springsteen's sax player?). So one Sunday afternoon, I finally go thru the paperwork and I see that the sax is like $40/month whereas the other instruments are about $20. So I try to reason with my son and encourage him to choose a different instrument explaining the sax is much more than say - the clarinet? NO WAY. He remains adament so I drop the subject figuring I'll make the decision later in the week.

Monday morning.

The phone rings. It's his band teacher. She's calling because Michael came to her and essentially told her (with tears in his eyes) that we couldn't afford the sax and he really wanted to play it. WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT - OMG. He DIDN'T...

She went on to say that the school had one in storage and we were more than welcome to use it for the year. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Bob and I looked at each other. I think I even cracked a welfare joke or two. Well, why NOT??? It's only going to sit in storage all year. It's not like we're taking it away from someone in need. Soooooo - we accepted the offer. Wow! Free hot lunch and a free sax? We are rocking the casbah this year!!

3 weeks later.

The kids get off the bus one afternoon and they all get in the van buzzing about these envelopes they received from each of their teachers. In each envelope was a $20 gift certificate for the school book fair. I immediately started swearing asked them if any other kids got them. They had no idea. Crap. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure THIS out. I immediately contacted the school and ripped them a new one inquired as to why my kids got these gift certificates??? Apparently, that hot lunch list ain't so private, afterall! Turns out, the list is given to someone who makes out the certificates. Urghhhhhhhh.

What's next? The free turkey at Thanksgiving? The sack of presents delivered in the middle of the night at Christmas??? OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG - fuel assistance???? well, that might not be so bad... NOOOOOOOOOOOO...

The moral of the story??

Take a GUESS!!! Could it be?

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch?? SIGHHHHHHHHHHHHH

1 comment:

  1. Ooooooh, Joey. Have you not learned yet that we live in a VERY... very small Emerald City?