A couple of days ago was Reagan's birthday, and I thought that I would surprise her for lunch. Since basically all of her friends from middle school went to a different high school, Reagan has been trying to find people to eat lunch with. It's not that she's not making friends at school. It's mostly that the girls she knows are on a different lunch schedule than her. Bottom line, I wanted to make sure she wasn't eating lunch alone on her birthday.
To be sure that this plan would be okay, I first called Leah. For all I know a teenage girl might be mortified beyond belief that her dad would show up at school for lunch on her birthday. I've only got four years left before she moves out (I hope), and I don't want them all to be spent with her mad at me because I showed up at school to surprise her. After Leah gave me the go ahead, I called the school to see if they would allow me to eat lunch with her. I'm glad I called.
The first lady that I spoke with said that she didn't know if I would be allowed to eat lunch with Reagan, so she transferred me to someone else. This second lady was very nice, but she informed me that visitors are not allowed in the lunchroom while the kids are eating for security reasons. Okay fine. I was ready to leave it at that. Reagan didn't know I was planning this, so it wouldn't make any difference. The lady on the phone wasn't done talking, though.
"…what you ought to do is just come up here, check her out, take her to lunch, and then bring her back before the bell rings."
Well, that hadn't even occurred to me, but it sounded like a great plan. There's plenty of fast food joints right around the school. We could easily pick up a quick (calorie laden, sure to induce a coma by the middle of the next period) lunch. I told her I was on the way.
Reagan's schedule is different every other day. On "A" days, she is coincidentally on "A" lunch and goes to eat at 10:45am. I know that McDonalds hasn't even stopped serving breakfast by that time. I don't make the schedules. Anyway, it just so happened that her birthday was on an "A" day, and I arrived at the school at 10:35am. That's when the big hand is on the seven for those of you educated in the Garland school system.
First, I spoke with the concierge lady at the front door, told her why I was there, and found out that she is the one who suggested I come get Reagan She then directed me to the office so that I could check Reagan out.
At the office, there were three ladies and a big clock on the wall. I told them that I wanted to get Reagan for lunch, and they looked at me like I was speaking ancient Sumerian. Finally, one of them managed to get her brain back in gear, processed what I was saying, and responded, "We don't do that."
We don't do what? Let parents check their kids out of school?
No, they don't let parents have lunch with their kids. But they were going to today. It was their idea!
I explained what had happened. I told them about my phone call, and I told them that it was their advice for me to come down and check Reagan out. By this time it was getting on toward 10:40am. The big hand was nearly on the eight.
The lady in the office asked which lunch Reagan was on, and I told her "A". She quickly responded, "Well then it doesn't matter anyway because she's already at lunch."
"Wait a second. I thought they went to lunch at 10:45."
"They go at 10:44, but it's already 10:45 anyway."
"Umm…I think it's only 10:40 right now. I'm pretty sure the big hand is on the nine at 10:45." I probably shouldn't have thrown in that last part, but c'mon, she works at a school and can't tell time. I guess you don't have to graduate from the magnet program to work at a magnet school. I hope the teachers are more skilled than this.
"Well, whatever. They go at 10:40 anyway. They just don't eat until 10:44."
About that time a principal (at least I assume it was a principal because everyone looked at him like he was in charge) came out and asked what was the problem.
I explained AGAIN how I ended up there. To which he replied, "Well, you see, we just don't give them very much time to eat. They've only got about thirty minutes. We have so many kids, we just have to get them in and out pretty quickly."
"Got it. Right now, you understand that you're wasting my thirty minutes. Are you going to help me or not?"
He decided that he could help me out this time. He tasked one of the workers with escorting me to the lunchroom to find Reagan. About that time another worker had a brilliant idea. "Does she have a cell phone?"
"Well, just call her and tell her to come to the office."
"You know she's at school, right? And her phone is supposed to be turned off during school. And if she answers it, you're going to take it away."
"Dad, really. All the kids do it." Is this lady a school employee or a teenager trapped in a 60 year old body?
"Okay. I'll call her, but I guarantee you her phone is off."
Of course it was, so we ended up walking to the lunchroom to find her, but before we could go I had to fill out the sign out sheet. Student's name, my name, date, time, reason for check out. I had written "lu" when the lady started freaking. "You're not going to write 'lunch' are you?"
"Well, I was going to since that's why I'm checking her out."
"Hmmm….maybe you could just put 'personal' instead?"
"Sure. If that makes you feel better. When someone comes along and audits these sign out sheets I'd hate for them to think you let a parent take their daughter to lunch."
In the lunchroom, the first person I saw was Reagan. Quickly, we grabbed her things and headed for the door. Reagan was a little worried because she had just found a friend to have lunch with and her friend had walked off. Now there's some kid at the school that thinks Reagan totally ditched her during lunch. Parent of the Year award right here.
On the way to lunch, I told Reagan that the lady in the office had wanted me to call her phone. Reagan said, "Seriously, Dad. Tons of kids have their phones out during lunch, and they even lay them down on the table where a teacher could see it if they walked by." She seemed mortified that kids would break the rules, and I think wanted to let me know what was going on in case she was ever caught sitting next to one of them.
We had some Whataburger. Reagan loved her lunch. I got her back in plenty of time for her next class. All was good.