When first graders attack, at least they apologize eloquently

photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)

Pacifist prison wardens? Tenderhearted bouncers? Forgetful waiters?

You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mine, brother.

For I am Lunch Dad. Hear me roar.

When the call goes out for volunteers to run herd during lunch, I answer.

The 30-minute drive to get there? Worth it, every time. Giving Grace’s awesome teacher a moment’s peace to nosh on a turkey club? Surprising Grace in the chow line for a steaming tray of chicken triangles and a carton of chocolate milk?

Being bear-hugged by Ewoks? Storytime and Hangman and making origami?

photo credit: Tempting... via photopin (license)
photo credit: Tempting… via photopin (license)

A stellar afternoon. Usually. But on this particular day, it felt like Alcatraz.

One day later, I received a gift from the class: A paper-clipped stack, an eighth-of-an-inch high, of that little blue-and-red-lined paper – you know, the stuff that helps guide us as we scribble lower-case W’s and practice that swinging loop on our cursive F’s. A blue-lined sticky note clung to the top of the pile:

Mr. Pacheco –

Please find apologies from our class. I do believe that they are truly sorry for their actions. I hope you come back again this year!


Mrs. S

Red Apple

Check out my lunch-dad stats: 3,294 hugs received. One kiss on the forehead. 2,103 heart-felt hand-holds. 973 go-gurts, Sunny D’s and thermoses opened for kids. 77 delighted squeals, give or take a dozen, spread over nine years on the job.

Oh, and a cupful of praise from teachers along the way.

Mrs. S felt the need to defend my honor as if I were some sort of noble Occupy Classroom martyr.

I’d been sacrificed, among:

  • the ghosts of butt-shaking dances
  • kids perched on tables and chairs
  • piggy-back rides given, or taken
  • sneaky maneuvers past me to erase names of boys and girls cited for naughty behavior
  • utter misuse of bathroom privileges
  • gross misconduct with strips of yarn
  • a spirited auction for a mini puffed-rice treat, drizzled with chocolate
  • and the un-American and inexcusable (but admittedly funny) humiliation of a simple white-bread hot dog bun  – all in the din of tiny voices that find power collectively busting through that level 3, 4, 5 – (5,000?) speaking voice

No bleeding. Minimal crying. Moderate tattle-taling. One child, shattered because she didn’t hear the story read that she picked. Another kid, remorseful when I scrawled her name on the board for inciting Los Angeles-caliber rioting.

But let’s see your average Lakers fan rioter pen notes as sweet as these:

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for what my friends did. We really hope he comes back to do lunch again. My apologies.

Apology accepted. It’s very big of you to apologize on their behalf. They owe you one.

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I’m sorry for the things I did today. It won’t happened again. I really hope you will come back.

Thanks. The doctor said my limp will last only a few months, and my memory will return.

What’s your name again?


Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for being not at a level 0 for the 15 minutes. My behavior will not happen again.

Aw, that’s OK. I’m at a level zero all day at work until I have a Coke Zero. I feel you, kid.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for talking. The behavior you saw will not happen again. We want you to come back.

Now you have me worried about what I didn’t see. What happens after the weenie dance?


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for rampaging, getting mad. I won’t do it again. I promise.

I’m willing to forgive and forget because you used the word “rampaging.” Well done, lad.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry that my class was so talky today at lunch. That won’t happen ever again.

Talky is fine. Ask the hens around me where I used to work. Oops. They read this column! Next.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for yelling. Hope you can come back. I am very, very, very sorry you feel bad.

Know when you told me, “You won’t write me down. You don’t even know my name?” I cheated by asking one of your classmates for help. It wasn’t really magic. Just kinda.


Mr. Pacheco,

The “one-hour drive just for nothing” will not happen again. I will not do the stuff I did again.

I’ve been quoted! I forgot I was wearing a teacher microphone. Good thing I didn’t cuss.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

You can feel safe to come and not see or hear us do it. I hope you will feel comfortable to come.

I was SO very brave; were you the one stroking my hair as I hid under the desk?


Dear. Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for shaking my booty. I promise it won’t happen again. I hope you come back.

At least once a soccer season, I mutter that too: “I am sorry for shakin’ my booty.”


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry about lunch. Will you come back? I hope we’ll never do it again. Please come back! Because you are silly and fun! Come back!!!!

If ever a letter clinched the deal, here it is. I’ll be back, sweetie.

I won’t desert you. Remember the boy yelling “Come back, Shane!” in that movie? I’m not about to become Shane. It’d be like being a window washer, who’s afraid of heights. A baker, who hates to wake up early. A Bobcats fan, who likes to mingle with thousands of friends.

I am Lunch Dad, after all. Hear me roar.