Some of you began reading my blog through my association with Mrs. Q and the fact that I was leading my own private revolution against school lunch programs. It was that and a series of other events that caused us to change our youngest son’s school.
Now, there is no lunch program other than what we pack into his reusable lunch bag and a water bottle but let me tell you, whatever it is, it best not be rubbish or I may be notified.
I have no issues with that. I have watched my little guy go from a delightful pop-tart eating student, good at worksheets and rote memorization to an engaged learner chomping on vegetable crudites while busy discovering and reporting back. One day I walked into his classroom to find him on the floor under the table with a paintbrush and in total concentration. “What is it that you’re doing down there?” “I’m trying to see how it felt to paint the Sistine Chapel.” There you have it. They were studying Rome.
Their playground is our desert where they all don sun hats and explore. You can find them atop the “Ghost Eye Tree”, a rickety old mesquite. On Mondays, they cook and on Fridays, they perform and there is no shortage of creativity or fun in between. I wish all children could experience this magic.
These teachers are empowered to teach and are not bound by silly rules and the children behave. Their last field trip was to a landfill and my third grader can recite as much about methane production as some environmentalists. Can you see that this is a good fit for our family?
Once, each year, they hold Night School, where everyone gets to sleep in and instead of showing up in the morning, school starts at 1:30 in the afternoon and goes until 7:30 pm. They read about nocturnal animals, paint the sunset, do night time math and enjoy every minute of it. Campus is transformed into an enchanted garden with luminarias along the pathways. Everyone must bring a well-working flashlight and their dinner.
I got it wrong last year. I didn’t realize that dinner would be different than lunch and there was a healthy dose of second-grade disappointment over the fact that his cold almond butter sandwich paled next to hot buttery noodles and broccoli. Thank God for second chances and that broccoli came in our CSA this week. I must say that while all vegetables taste better fresh from the farm, I do believe that broccoli delivers the single best evidence.
Tanner’s Night School Dinner
- 3/4 cup broccoli florets
- one cup of whole wheat pasta
- 2 Tbs butter or sauce of your liking
- mixed nuts, packed separately as a snack
- dried fruit, packed separately as a snack
- water bottle
- thermos of chai tea
Steam the broccoli. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the noodles. Cook until al dente and drain. Toss the noodles with the broccoli. Add a Tbs of butter or whatever sauce you enjoy. Pack into thermos to be kept warm for dinner. Receive ample amount of third grade appreciation for getting it right.
For those of you still fighting the school lunch battle, don’t give up. Mrs. Q has a new book and it’s a war worth winning. After all, they are what they eat.