Credit Card: REVOKED!

I cut up the Princess’s credit card yesterday.

No, obviously not an actual credit card, she’s only 8, geez how crazy do you think I am? It’s a metaphor. Make yourself comfy and I’ll tell you the whole story.

Nearly two years ago I sent to Princess off to her first full day of school. She was a big girl, she was in first grade, she was six. Being the exemplary mother that I am, I packed her newly purchased Disney Princess lunch-box with a healthy, nutritious lunch, I even wrote her a loving note on the napkin just like the mothers of the girls who weren’t me always did when I was growing up and I wished my mother did too (in her defense my mother may have done something like that when I was in grade school had she made my lunch, but since lunch making was one of the morning chores for myself or one of my six siblings she wasn’t really in a position for writing napkin notes.) I loving placed said Disney princess lunch-box in my darling daughter’s Disney princess backpack and sent her off on the bus to school.

Fast forward a few hours and I got a phone call from the Princess. She had hurt her arm- that’s right she needed first aid in the first grade (10,000)- So I went to the school and picked her up. As we were driving home I asked, “did you like the lunch I made you?”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“What do you mean you didn’t eat it?”

“I went through the line and they gave me pizza.”

Pause. “Sweetheart, they don’t just give you food, you have to buy food and you didn’t have any money.”

“They said I could bring money tomorrow.”

And so began my daughter’s education in buying on credit. SHE WAS SIX!!!!!

I realize that it was only $1.20 but that is SO not the point. The point is that the school, an institution I’m trusting to teach my daughter, has just taught her that she can get what she wants now and pay for it later. Gone are the days of sending your kid to school with lunch money which they handed over to the cashier at the end of the lunch-line. Now you send money in to the schools and it goes in your child’s account. they they go get their lunch and give the “cashier” their account number. I’m completely serious.

In the intervening nearly two years Sean and I have done what we could to disabuse her of the notion that she can’t just get lunch on credit to no avail. She is currently in charge of making her own lunch, something she does about four days a week. The other days I plan for and send money. But some days she makes herself a lunch and she doesn’t eat it!! She just eats in the cafeteria. And the school sends notes home telling us that we owe them money.

And they’re mean about it, collection agencies have nothing on Unnamed Elementary for getting their money. They take the Princess out of class and have her call home to remind- by remind I mean tell, since the note that they sent home with the Princess is still in her backpack- us that we owe 20 cents. 20 CENTS!!!! You’re calling me at home to demand 20 cents?!!!!! Is the school system really that hard up? (Again not the point but I couldn’t help but mention it.)

But we can’t not pay it. We live in a very… (how do I put this?) non-affluent area. There are a lot of kids at that school who are on reduced or free lunch, there are a lot of kids there for whom the meal(s) they eat at school are the best meals they’ll get all week. We can afford the lunch, we can afford one for her and one for a friend. I would just like to afford it ahead of time.

Yesterday I got my big break. Instead of the Princess calling me about money owed, the “lunch secretary” (I kid you not) called. “The Princess didn’t bring her lunch today and she’s going on a field-trip but she already owes $1.00.”

“I didn’t know about the $1.00 (I really need to be better about making her clean out her backpack when she gets home) but I was actually aware that she didn’t bring her lunch today. The note that was sent home about the field-trip said that lunch would be provided.”

“It’s provided but it’s not free.”

Am I stupid that I thought “Lunch will be provided” meant that it was free? It’s ok, you can tell me if I am. But If I had known that I would have had her make a lunch. (No, it’s not about the $1.20, it’s about the fact that I’ve never been that impressed with the nutritional content of the school’s lunches anyway- tater tots are not a vegetable)

“Ok, well since I misunderstood could you go ahead and give her lunch today but since I have you on the phone can I request that you not extend credit to her.”

“So if she doesn’t have money you just want her … to go … hungry?” Asked the lunch secretary clearly aghast at the very idea.

“YES!!!”

She’s a sturdy girl, one missed lunch isn’t going to hurt her and maybe we can undo a little of the damage you have done by giving my six-year-old a credit card. I guess we should have called the school to ask for this before. I’ll admit the idea did occasionally occur to me but I didn’t think there was any chance that they’d go for it. Now that I know they will, well let’s just say that the Pea will be eating the lunch I make him on his first day of first grade.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sallygirl
    May 29, 2008 @ 00:45:48

    Did you buy a zoo with all the doctor bills you paid?

    My kid has left his lunch in the car on purpose because he wants hot lunch. When they were at their “home” school, the lunch lady had these nasty PBJ graham cracker sandwiches they’d give to kids that forgot lunch and didn’t have money, and I could count on her to do it. Now that they’re at hubby’s school, the lunch lady just waves them on. We clearly do NOT qualify for free lunch, although there are times when I certainly wish we did! I’m thinking I should have a chat with the lunch lady.

    And you’re not crazy about the field trip lunch. If it says “Lunch will be provided” then it darn well better be! If it’s not free, then four little words should have followed it saying: “at an additional cost.”

    The thing that particularly gets me about the secretary chick is they have no issues bawling you out about 20 cents for lunch, but heaven forbid you ask these kids to bring their own pencils or paper to school! It irritates me beyond words that we often have to provide basic classroom supplies for hubby out of our own pockets because the schools can’t afford them and they’re not allowed to make the children bring them. Seriously? I mean, I know they all get free lunch and all, but you’re telling me that after they pay their cable TV, cell phone for every family member, and their case of beer a day they can’t fork out 10 cents for a box of pencils at the back-to-school sales?!?!?!

    Now I’m too mad to go to sleep. You can’t let me read posts like this when I should be in bed!! ;D

  2. bythelbs
    May 29, 2008 @ 10:59:07

    Lunch will be provided means lunch will be provided. Lunch will be provided provided you send $1.20 with your student means there ain’t no free lunch. Obviously the field trip letter was composed by idiots.

    We have the same credit system at our school, but you’re supposed to pay ahead of time. I didn’t realize you could get credit that wasn’t already “paid for”. I can see maybe doing it once or twice if you were concerned a child might starve, but after that. Come on.

  3. julie
    May 29, 2008 @ 13:15:43

    My ds did that too. He tried to get more lunches that what I said in the beginning. I now have to be at school if they want breakfast becuse of it.

  4. Jabe
    May 29, 2008 @ 15:43:26

    Lunch will be provided is, I suppose a bit of an ambiguous statement. I think it’s only fair to admit that I, too, would have thought that meant it would be “provided.” To my way of thinking, what they actually meant (thought they clearly did not say) was that lunch would be available to those wishing to purchase it.

  5. Jennifer
    May 29, 2008 @ 17:36:17

    This is one way I love Catholic schools without a hot lunch program. The kids get “Fun Lunches” once a week, prepaid.
    Lunch will be provided, but pay, don’t you already pay too much to send kids on field trips???

  6. Cat
    May 30, 2008 @ 11:49:23

    Don’t you just love the lessons our eldest children have the privilage of teaching us?! I’ve missed hearing from you and about your beautiful little ones, so I’ll be doing some catch up reading. Always great to see old WSHS pals thriving and happy!

  7. Dollie
    May 30, 2008 @ 15:42:38

    hahah i love reading your blog it makes me laugh also comforts me to know I am not the only mom who struggles with kids also prepares me for the future.

  8. suburbancorrespondent
    May 31, 2008 @ 07:24:13

    I am so with you on this…

    And, in regards to your comment on my blog – where is there a prepaid cell provider who will allow you to purchase only 100 minutes that will last for 6 months? Just curious. Usually, the longer the time period, the more minutes you have to buy.

  9. Lisa M
    May 31, 2008 @ 11:49:52

    Hooray! I am so glad to find someone who agrees with me on the entire school lunch issue. I refused to pay it, because it was an UNAUTHORIZED expenditure. Did I say they could create a credit account for my six year old? I don’t think so!

    Good for you!

  10. Annie
    May 31, 2008 @ 13:32:31

    Oh, the school system is going to hate me next year when I join the parenting ranks. Good for you letting her be hungry. You’re a good mommy, a little responsibility never hurt my waist line.

  11. Tausha
    May 31, 2008 @ 16:42:39

    rock on! I am with you with the hunger thing. I can’t beleive that the “lunch secretary” (give me a break) was so appaled that she was too go hungray. i can’t help but think that if this happened 20 years ago-they wouldn;t have been so shocked that she was to go hungary to learn a lesson. The lesson: that children don’t get whatever they want-whenever they want it. i agree-what are we teaching our children?
    i believe-that if we a mother go to all the trouble to get up out of our nice warm bed, make them a lunch that is nutritious and “fun” plus-write them a not to tell them how much we love them-because that is what good parents do. (at least thats what the magazines say) then our lovely children should eat the lunch Damnit! If they don’t want to-dang-go hungry-i had too when I was little-it didn’t kill me-it wont kill them! Ok-enough of my rant! Sorry for the long post-I am alone with no children adn I am not used to being able to write a post longer than two words. Hope that is makes sense-I am high on happiness of no children! 🙂

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