I took a personal day off from work today so that I would be able to attend Madison’s first parent-teacher conference (she’s doing a great job in the classroom!) I didn’t need the whole day, but didn’t feel like using up an hour-and-a-half of personal leave just to miss last period. The first benefit, of course, was waking up significantly later than 4:45 in the morning. More importantly, it allowed me to eat breakfast with Madison at her school.
For a whopping $2.20, parents can eat breakfast with their kids in the Mililani Mauka Elementary School cafeteria. I had no idea such a thing existed before Lynnette talked it up at the beginning of the year. I was saddened at that time, thinking that I wouldn’t have a chance to do so with Mad unless I had a holiday that the DOE didn’t.
Mad, the savvy veteran, told me where to park the car. She walked me to the cafeteria and through the A-Plus sign-in area. She led me to the line for breakfast and picked out our table. Our breakfast was Portuguese sausage and brown rice with grape juice and a choice of milk or the more exotic chocolate variety. I am not a fan of dirty rice, so I barely touched that. My stomach hates milk more than I hate my stomach, so I was forced into the grape juice – an unmitigated disaster. “Do you want my last sausage?” I asked Mad. She nodded in the affirmative and I made the drop-off on her paper plate.
We had a great conversation about her Halloween exploits the night before (“I still have lots of candy at home!”) as well as her then-upcoming conference (I’m good in school, I’m never on yellow or red light!”). She also did me the favor of explaining her usual morning routine. She hangs out with the other kids who arrive to school way before the first class of the day. Sometimes there are crafts, often there is food. A handful of Mad’s friends said hello and one boy asked if I was her dad. I nodded a serious nod just in case he was working up the courage to ask Mad out. You can never be too sure.
Finally, we finished our meal at 7:20 or so. Mad led me through the trash line and we returned to our table. “Well, do you want me to hang around or are you going to play with your friends?” I asked. I had no desire to sit in the cafeteria which was getting increasingly loud. “Umm, I think I’m going to go over there,” Madison said, pointing to the A-Plus area. I was crushed! I didn’t want to stay anyway, but damn it, she actively picked her friends over me! Where were the waterworks? The dad-don’t-go’s? She tilted her head upwards and ducked her lips for a goodbye kiss. I like cry! I text messaged Lynnette on the way out of the cafe. She called back and I told her what happened. She couldn’t understand. “But you didn’t want to stay anyway!” she said. “But it’s like a break-up! Even if you didn’t want to be in the relationship, you still want to be the one who walked away, not the one who got left behind!” I exclaimed. There was a pause. “Well, when you put it that way….” Lynnette said.