This is a story about milk. (I'm trying for the most boring first line ever. How am I doing?)
Last month, Little Z started kindergarten. She's a carry-your-lunch type of kid, but she mentioned on day three or so something about "the milk at school".
"Do you drink milk at school?"
"At the snack time, they give me milk."
Not wanting to steal milk, I sent a five dollar bill to school with her the next day, in an envelope marked "milk money".
That was the first day we got the email from school, warning us that our account was low on cash, and that they didn't run a "credit based system". No charity to be found. You pay always before you eat at school, or no food for you! It was very clear.
The funny thing about that was, when there was no money in her account at all and she was drinking milk, it was no problem. However, once we put money into the account, the account was low, and we received a warning.
Now, every single school day since then, we have gotten an email stating that her account is low and only has five dollars in it. And every school day, Little Z drinks milk at snack time. Still, we have five dollars in the account. No money is ever deducted for milk.
I've been incredulous. Does she really drink milk every day at school? Yes, she does. She described to me in great detail the process of pouring out the leftover milk into a special tub and then recycling the milk cartons in a special bin.
Little Z gets really indignant when I quiz her about it. She is, after all, a good girl who would never steal milk.
"Do you think you are accidentally stealing the milk?"
"No! They give me the milk!"
"Is it someone else's milk?"
"NO! We line up at the bin and get the milk."
Still, the emails keep coming: Only five dollars left in the account.
I told this story to a coworker who gave me a long, knowing look. Finally, she said,
"This is your first experience having a child in the public school system, isn't it?"
What can I say? It is.