It’s common for dads to want to form a social circle around other men with similar interests. Some dads go bowling, others play golf, but the dads pizza club was quite different. It was made up of dads with broad interests, but they all had one thing in common – their children attended the same grade school.
I don’t know for sure what the genesis of the idea was but it began with one dad having school lunch with his daughter. Any dad will tell you that school lunch was never their favorite, but on the day they were serving made from scratch pizza, you didn’t want to miss it.
We were living in Spearfish, South Dakota at the time and our oldest child, Michelle, was in second grade. Having a parent or grandparent show up at school to have lunch with their kid wasn’t something that was happening very often so it became a little bit of a spectacle. When that dad is six and half feet tall it creates a little more attention.
It didn’t take long for me to set up a schedule around pizza day. Somehow this little event was mentioned to another dad who had a child in the same class, so he was invited to join in. Not long after there were two more dads that wanted to share in the fun, and so it continued.
The dads were from many different walks of life so some wore suits, others wore boots and work pants. What we all had in common was that we all liked pizza and loved our children. Once our group was formed there was always one of the dads who would find out when the school lunch ladies were serving pizza, then he would call the others.
It’s hard to say what’s in the mind of a second grader but they always had a smile on their face when we dropped in for lunch. If there was a day when someone dropped the ball and we missed pizza day we were called onto the carpet when we arrived home from work. No dad wants his second grader to say, “Where were you today? It was pizza day!”
The school administration didn’t seem to mind – so long as there weren’t too many dads showing up.
Lots of time has passed since the last time I had school lunch with any of my kids so this last week I decided to ask the Mountain View Principal if this kind of thing was still acceptable. Imagine my surprise when he said “Of course, come on over”.
I watched the school menu, which is posted on the school website, hoping for a pizza day, but as of last Friday I was out of luck. I finally decided that it didn’t matter what was on the menu, I was going to have lunch with my grandson, Bentley. I wanted it to be a surprise, and so it was when he turned the corner in the lunchroom and saw me.
Bentley smiled and gave me a hug while his classmates, who have never seen me, let alone stood next to me, reflected on how tall I am to their classmates. Being a talented big brother to two little sisters, Bentley ‘schooled me’ on how to go through the lunch line. The menu included the choice of a plum or orange, tomatoes, a no bake cookie, ham and potato soup, shredded cheese for the soup and my choice of milk. Apparently there are certain things that go into each of the shapes on my lunch tray, but Bentley was right there to instruct me so that I wouldn’t do it wrong.
As a grade school, none of the tables in the lunchroom were built to accommodate someone with my height, but I helped my grandson choose the end of one of the tables so I could slide my long legs under the table without falling onto the floor.
I was truly delighted to see the joy on these children’s faces as they ate their lunches while exchanging stories with their classmates. When one of the lunch ladies needed to have the kids listen she simply raised her hand and almost in unison, the kids stopped talking. That little trick wouldn’t work in a gathering of adults, but it worked perfectly with these grade school students.
I was happy to see the children eating most of what had been served to them. Bentley started with his dessert, and why wouldn’t you if given the choice, but he ate everything on his plate. When we were done he escorted me over to the station where they dump their trays.
The entire exercise lasted about twenty minutes and gave me a window into a tiny portion of the school day for our kids. Lunch ladies have always been a special group of people who get to share their talents with some of the pickiest eaters anywhere. I can assure you that if you have children or grandchildren at Mountain View, they are being well cared for.
If you want a fun experience, go have lunch with your children or grandchildren. It will make your day and they’ll appreciate it as well.