Posts Filed Under Lunch Lady Land

Getting Burned

posted by Momo Fali on January 29, 2010
This picture is a close-up of my right forearm. Please ignore the lack of muscle tone and the Lebanese arm hair.

Every weekday, I prepare meals for roughly 200 kids. Sometimes we go all old school cafeteria and heat up prepackaged, frozen food, but there are many days when the entire menu is fresh and made from scratch.

This picture shows my latest burns. I also have a scar on my wrist, a scar near my elbow and a scar on my left forearm. I decided to add some marks to the right side so that my forearms would match.

Earlier this week, in addition to my new burns, I was dicing tomatoes when I cut through my glove and into the tip of my thumb. I also sliced my palm with the wire tie that was holding closed the frozen corn.

And then, when we were eating dinner the other night, my 11 year old daughter finished chewing a bite and said, “Mom, this is really good! You should be a cook!”

All that suffering and I can’t even get any props.

Looney Tunes

posted by Momo Fali on January 27, 2010

My mind is rarely at rest. As an insomniac, I have taken to keeping my phone on my nightstand so I can jot down the thoughts that pop into my head at 3:00am. It seems that the middle of the night is when I frequently remember that I need to pick up a birthday card, or that we need eggs or that the permission slip for my daughter’s field trip is two days overdue.

During the day, my mind is constantly occupied as well. If I’m not reading, writing or watching television, then my brain starts getting busy. But, this isn’t when I have coherent thoughts…this is when my head is filled with irritating music.

For instance, every day when I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at work, I sing “Bootylicious”. That’s right. I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly. On Sloppy Joe days, I channel Adam Sandler. When we serve fruit salad, it’s The Wiggles.

The problem is that I don’t invite this music. I don’t ask it to come in, sit down and kick up its feet. But, it does. Sometimes it stays for tea, then grabs a pillow and plops down for a long nap.

Yesterday my day started with my son humming “Oh Susanna”, which stayed in my head until I made the PBJ’s. “Bootylicious” hung around until one of my co-workers asked if I had seen the guy on American Idol singing “Pants on the Ground”. Maybe that song wouldn’t be so bad if I knew more than ten words.

After school, my son mentioned how much he likes the song “Down by the Station”. Which turned out to be awesome because it’s completely normal for a 38 year old woman to be walking through Target singing songs about “little puffer bellies all in a row”.

When I got home I found that someone had sent me a video of Justin Timberlake singing “Hallelujah” from the Hope for Haiti telethon. I knew it would be stuck in my head, likely for the rest of the day.

And after all that bad music, what was my first reaction when I saw that link in my in-box?

Hallelujah.

Compulsion

posted by Momo Fali on January 22, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, the cafeteria prefect at the school asked if it would be okay if she hurried my son along after he finishes his lunch. It turns out, that while I’m busily working 40 feet away, he is dilly-dallying through clean up.

Kids can’t be dismissed until their area is tidy and although my son stays well into the next lunch period and gets back to class later than anyone else, he still feels the need to take his things to the trash can…one by one.

First it’s the straw wrapper, then he walks around the entire row of tables to get his straw, then his milk carton, then his tray, then his napkin. I don’t think he’s stalling. I think it’s just an aspect of his OCD.

I will be the first person to say that he gets his compulsions naturally. Between me, my mother and my mother-in-law you could lay our compulsions end-to-end and circle the earth. Twice.

My mom took her dog for a walk the other day and told me that she went 845 steps. Then she went on to say that if she had gone around the block she would have taken over 1000. She doesn’t wear a pedometer. She also has a morning routine that you do not want to mess with. Trust me. I’m more of a have-to-have-the-dishwasher-loaded-correctly or laundry-has-to-be-folded-nicely-and-put-away-neatly kind of chick. So, you really can’t call me odd.

A true compulsion would be if I reloaded the dishwasher every time someone else tried to do it, so I would know that all of the forks were tines up, all of the sharp knives were pointing down, all the ceramic dishes were on one side and all the plastic ones on the other and that all of the cooking utensils were in the top rack. Or, if I went back to the drawer where I had just put away laundry in order to make sure it hadn’t folded over on itself. Not that I would know anything about that.

I mean, it would probably seem as if I had issues if I did something like say the exact same thing to my daughter every single night before she goes to bed and give her four kisses on her forehead. It would be stranger, still, if the words I uttered to her were the exact same ones my mother said to me as a child.

Or, if I also gave my son four kisses each night and rubbed the back of his furry little head in the spot where I first touched him as a baby.

I’m certainly not crazy! I don’t line up my shirts by color, or always cough twice, or crack my neck, or constantly rub my chin to see if another gray hair has popped out. Oh wait…

Now that I think about it, my son is doomed.

Victory

posted by Momo Fali on January 6, 2010

On Monday night, my mom, the kids and I went to dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday. We hit the local Chinese restaurant, where we were all happily chomping on rice noodles when my seven year old son took a sip of his lukewarm tea and started to cough.

I remember when I would cough like that as a kid and my mom would make me put my arms in the air. I do that with my son too. I also make him look me in the eye as I slowly count to five, then tell him to take a breath. I do anything I can to get his attention off of coughing because, with him, coughing almost always leads to vomiting.

I held my napkin under his chin, as if that would contain his bellyful of Lo Mein and mushrooms. He began to gag as his sister firmly shut her eyes and plugged her ears, as she frequently does. Then my son threw up about a tablespoon of liquid before calming himself down.

I was thrilled! I was so proud of him! His grandmother even gave him a dollar.

He didn’t vomit, and vomit, and vomit some more as he did on the first day of Christmas break. He had a cold and started coughing in the car as we were leaving the school, which is where he started throwing up. He coated his jacket and his booster seat, then leaned out the window and threw up some more. He finished on the ground in the parking lot where I had hurriedly pulled into a spot. I undressed my son next to the car in the frigid temperatures before driving him home to do laundry and bathe him.

That scene, or one like it, plays out about once a week. If we’re lucky. Sometimes it’s more. You might think this is disgusting. But, these are the moments that define the mother I am.

I am the mother of a sick kid. I am the mother of a boy who weighs 38 pounds and will soon be eight years old, who is hard to understand when he speaks and who hears everything as if he is holding his hands over his ears.

I am the mother of a child with OCD tendencies, who easily gags, and chokes, and has horrible reflux, heart defects, hearing loss, a missing tear duct and stubby ear canals. I work as a lunch lady so I can be there to watch over him when he eats. I give him stomach and allergy medicine, sinus rinses, eye drops and ear drops. And, I carry special bags in my car to catch his vomit (when I can).

I am the mother who helps my kids with homework as I am making a dinner that I know my son can eat. Nothing stringy, nothing too spicy, nothing pasty or with an odd texture. Bites need to be dime-sized.

I am the mother who drives her daughter to basketball practice and makes sure to bring a blanket to keep her son warm, because his heart problems make him extra cold.

I am the mother whose son sees not only a pediatrician, but a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, opthamologist, geneticist, allergist, ENT…oh, and we were just told to consult with an orthodontist too. I am the mother who is a pharmacist’s dream and a health insurer’s nightmare.

I am also the mother who cheers when her son doesn’t throw up in the middle of a restaurant during her sister’s birthday dinner.

I am the mother who takes her victories whenever she can.