This morning, after getting the boys ready for school, I found my 5.5 year old son trying to pry open his money box with a screw driver.
Firstly, where did he find the screw driver?
Secondly, why did he need money?
He looked up at me, and told me that he needed to take some money to school to buy an ice cream from the canteen at lunchtime. He has a few friends who were going to help him.
My child? Going to the canteen? With friends?? He just started Year One two weeks ago!
I was suddenly thrown back 20 years into a self-made, childhood pit of canteen-envy.
I was never allowed to buy things from the school tuck shop. I was so jealous of all the kids who were allowed to have icy poles and lemonades in summer, and warm cinnamon rolls and hot cheesie buns in winter.
I remember hating my lunch – my mother’s sandwiches.
Don’t get me wrong. My mother is a fabulous cook. Growing up on Christmas Island, my mother and a few other mothers would come to school at lunchtime, and set up a picnic for us. There were metal canisters of hot soups, warm rice, yummy meat stir fries with juicy vegetables. There were fried noodles and fish balls, poached egg and pork buns. We were spoilt.
But later, we moved to Australia. And perhaps she believed that being in a Western society, we had to have ham and cucumber sandwiches, every single day, by way of integration or something.
I just wanted noodles and rice.
So unbeknownst to my mother, I started to throw away every sandwich pack she made me. I stole money from the family coin tray, and bought pies and buns from the canteen.
I was so naughty!
So I looked at my child on the floor of his bedroom, screw driver in his hand, and I had one of those unforgettable parental moments where I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY!
The school actually discourages Year One kids from going to the canteen until Term 2, unless they have an older sibling / friend with them.
So do I ban him from the school canteen?
Do I simply give him some money and let him and his friends work it all out?
Who are these friends who go to the canteen anyway? And how old are they?
Do I let him buy whatever he wants?
How often will he want to go to the canteen?
What if he starts throwing away the sandwiches THAT I WAKE UP AT 6:45AM EVERY MORNING TO MAKE FOR HIM!!!
After a couple of hours of thinking and nutting things out – which mainly consisted of me trying to deal with my own childhood insecurities – I got hold of the canteen menu, and decided that every Friday he can go work out how to buy himself an icy pole for 40c.
Fingers crossed that it all goes well.