Ask Mrs. C: Buena: A ‘No Sunflower Seeds Zone’

Dear Mrs. C:

 Our son, ‘Waldo’, is a good kid, but has an annoying habit. He loves sunflower seeds, and spits the shells on the floor. He’s done this ever since he was in fourth grade, and we just can’t break him of the habit. Some of his teachers are Buena are starting to get after him … making him clean up after himself, or totally not allowing him to eat the seeds in class. Could you please ask them to cut Waldo a little slack? We would really appreciate this.

Thanks you.

Signed: Waldo’s Parents

 Dear WPs:

I would really appreciate if Waldo didn’t eat sunflower seeds at all at Buena. He’s done this since he was in fourth grade? Am assuming he is about 15 years old. I have a mental visual of a mound of sunflower seed shells the size of a storage shed in your backyard. Yikes! That messes up my mind.

 Hate to belabor the obvious, but …. am wondering what strategies you have used to try and modify Mr. Spitter’s behavior in this area? Ones that come to mind include: you spit stuff on the floor, you pick it up right away; you spit outside; you eat shelled peanuts instead. If you choose to eat sunflower seeds, you sweep the floor, and even possibly mop it. Idea: put a little bucket outside on the back porch, and have Waldo pretend he is ‘making baskets’ by spitting the shells into the bucket. J He obviously enjoys this activity, and is not mortally wounding anyone, so you could cut him a little slack in that manner.

 But … at school? Your rules in your home are your own business, but Buena is basically a ‘No Sunflower Seeds’ zone. J Would hate to have the Sunflower Seeds Police catch Waldo in the act, as the penalty could include what we fondly call Custodial Therapy.

You guessed it … Waldo, in addition to cleaning up his random Rorschach pattern of sunflower seeds on the floor, would have the opportunity to assist our fine custodians in their after-breakfast or after-lunch clean-up routine. Trust me, dried catsup, or errant Spanish rice kernals — not fun to chase around.

 Don’t take this wrong, but my friendly suggestion is let Waldo know that he has a choice: Spit sunflower seeds outside (and certainly not at Buena), or pay for a cleaning person to clean the room in which he caused those shells to go airborne. The more I think about it, I wouldn’t even give him that option. His choices would be: outside, or not at all. I’m mentally hearing shells crunch underfoot, in my mind. Or, if tripsing around the house barefoot, sustaining ouchies after having stepped on the shells, or (a safety issue here) slipping, or turning an ankle. All are not fun.

 So, please tell Waldo we certainly don’t want him to starve, but to find an alternative to his current annoying pattern. Top on the list might be a good, hearty breakfast — either eaten at home, or at school, and ditto with an ample school lunch. That should tide him over until arrives home around 3:15 p.m. I would, while he is at school, rid the house of the offending seeds, and stock the fridge with yummy, healthy snacks. 

Hope this helps!

— Mrs. C

ELAINE CARLSONis a Buena High School counselor. Questions can be sent to her at

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