- "Use a shelf marker." Nothing makes this librarian crazier than kids who pick out a book, decide they don't want it, and then they cram it in any old spot on a shelf.
- "You don't get to ask - they ask you." When parents come in for lunch with their kids, they sit at a special table and can ask one friend to sit with them. With the younger ones, there are always a few who will stand at the table and try to make their case for why they should be asked. Sometimes they even try bribery. I try to shoo them to their seat so the kids at the parents table can make the choice without pressure.
- "Real food first." When we pass out a treat in the lunchroom, or the little kids ask me to open their pudding or other desert item when the first sit down, this is my standard response.
- I refuse to answer questions from swarm of students at the start of a class. This year I plan to be a real stickler about this. I wish I had a snappy phrase for them. I once heard someone say "I am not a tree and you are not a woodpecker," in response to a child poking them in the arm over and over and over. Love it! I need something clever for this, too.
- When kids in the lunchroom want me to open something for them, but they just hand it to me, I say, "Oh, for me? Thanks, but I'm not hungry right now." Or some variation. They have to ask - and say please.
- "Chew, swallow, talk." Kids have to raise their hands in the lunchroom to get our attention. Often, when I get to them, they have their mouths full of food and they try to ask their question. I'll either wait for them, or I'll tell them to chew and swallow and I'll come back in a minute so they can talk.
- I will not open something that the student has already been chewing on in their own efforts to open it. If possible, I'll hold a napkin over the item to open it, but if I can't do that I tell them they are on their own. Maybe that's too tough, but between the sniffling and the nose picking and other habits, germs are rampant. I try to protect myself wherever I reasonably can.
- I always carry a little chocolate in my apron pocket for lunchroom duty. I think every day requires a little bit of chocolate, and lunch lady duties just amplify that need.
Did you notice that most of those rules involve my work in the lunchroom? Yeah, me too... I think it's the nature of the beast!