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Big Guy meets the Milk Lady

Submitted by on Friday, 11 July 2008 No Comment

Day Three for Big Guy at the Big Kids School, and he bounded out of the cafeteria to greet me with his classic bear hug around the knees. Whew! Signs of my sweet 4-year-old. I’d feared the backpack-toting stranger who was too cool for kisses had permanently replaced him.

“”Mommy! I had chocolate milk for lunch!”"

“”Chocolate milk?”" I gasped. “”You’re kidding! They have that at your school? Sheesh, I wish they’d had that at school when I was a kid.”"

He nodded, once and firmly. “”Yes. And I bought it myself!”"

I already knew that, because I’d peeked through a window as he finished lunch, just as I’d done the previous two days. Except this time, I saw a tiny brown carton in front of him. At last, Big Guy had figured out the Milk Lady.

For Big Guy to eat even one milkless lunch was unbelievable. Two, unheard of. Something was wrong.

Turns out, it was a case of classic Big Guy stubbornness topped with a dollop of developing male ego. He wanted milk — but he didn’t want to ask for help getting it.

Day One, he claimed “”I forgot.”" Possible — it was a tumultuous morning. Day Two, he said he’d rather drink water, a claim that was 100 percent Oscar Mayer. Big Guy is to milk like a wino is to Thunderbird. He has to have his fix.

Ay, but there’s one thing more important to Big Guy than his moo juice, and that’s his independence.

This is the baby who tried to raise his head and check out the world shortly after he popped out and the doctor put him on my tummy. This is the toddler who, at barely 3, huffed and puffed his way to the curb one morning , toting the kitchen garbage. “”Daddy forgot to do it, so I did.”" he said. This is the kid who, just days after abdominal surgery last fall, clawed his way onto my two-foot-high bed.

Now, independence is a good thing and a trait I encourage in the guys. It’s also a trait that can go too far. And, as one who often takes it too far, I’ve also tried to teach them that it’s OK to ask for help. Little Guy accepts that. Big Guy would rather bash his head against a wall until he’s weeping with frustration than ask anyone to intercede.

And heaven help the person who actually utters the “”h”" word around Big Guy. No one is allowed to actually help him, but at times it’s permissible to “”show him how to do something.”" It’s all about the spin.

So yesterday I buttonholed his teacher asked her to keep an eye out for him at lunch because he needed help getting his milk. Except you can’t actually help him, I warned.

It worked like a charm, and Big Guy had the chocolate milk mustache to prove it.

“”How did you get the milk?”" I asked.

“”Aw, it’s easy! You get in the line and tell the Milk Lady that you’d like milk and say your name. Then she types something on her computer and gives you the milk. And I didn’t even have to pay for it!”"

Coming soon on 9to5to9: An fuddy-duddy rant about how cafeteria debit cards deprive kids of the chance to learn that, yes, food costs money and, yes, you need to remember to take yours.

For now, I’ll just be happy that Big Guy has mastered the milk line.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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