Honorable Earning vs. Entitlement

I was a student cafeteria worker and I loved it!

I was a student cafeteria worker and I loved it!

Mamacita says:  When something, no matter what, is earned, that is honorable; whereas, getting something because one feels entitled, is not.  Not honorable at all.  Go ahead; bring it on.  I’m standing my ground on this one.

When I was in school, I loved to hang around the teachers and other adults in the building, begging for jobs to do for them; anything was better than recess. I filed papers and graded spelling tests starting in second grade. (I spent much of first grade standing in the corner because of art class) (Another post, when I’ve recovered from it.)

In third grade, I stayed after school almost every night, cleaning desktops and grading papers and – remember this one? – clapping erasers out by the back fence. Sometimes I would be sent across the busiest street in our town to a little gas station to buy cartons of Big Red for my teacher.

Pop came in bottles. There were no cans back tyhen.

Pop came in bottles. There were no cans back then.  They were heavy.  I felt so proud lugging two cartons of Big Red across that busy street to my teacher, after school.

The building was always full of men who asked me lots of questions, none of which I cared to answer because I was not a stupid little girl and I went in there to buy pop for my teacher so take my money thankyouverymuch seeya next week. I loved the responsibility, and kind of resented being reminded to look both ways, etc, because good grief, what kind of little kid doesn’t KNOW those things already?

I always envied the kids who got to clean tables and sweep and rinse trays in the cafeteria. In sixth grade, I was a cafeteria kid, and in return for free lunch got to be treated like a grown-up, with a grown-up job. The cafeteria ladies treated us like one of them, and expected – demanded- quality work, which I found exhilarating.

I was sent back to the classroom about fifteen minutes into the lesson, and my teacher always greeted me with a smile, asked me how it went that day, and set me to work. I felt so grown up.

I guess my point is, I never once thought of myself as a charity case. If I didn’t have the money, I bussed a few tables. There was never a stigma. I never felt picked on. I actually felt good about it because, as I said before, I hated recess and always felt more at home with the adults than with the other little kids.

I know not every little kid would have felt like I did, but I did, and that’s part of my educational story. (In fifth grade, some other kid got to do MY jobs and I’ve still not recovered from the shock.) But in sixth grade, I got it back. Whew.

Today, after going through the school system, and after undergrad and after Master’s and after thirty years of teaching, I still see no harm in a child being asked to wash a table in return for a sandwich. No child should be shamed – EVER – but there is no shame in earning. There is honor in earning.


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