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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday: Lunch with little girls

Who can resist that grin?
I volunteer in my older daughter's class on Thursdays. For an hour every week, I help a bunch of 5th grade students with their writing. I'm amazed at how these teachers are teaching the kids nowadays. So many cool things they're learning. If ever I had hope in our children's futures, it would be on the days when I get to sit in a classroom and edit their writing.

But that's not what I'm writing my thankful post about today.

You see, I usually also help in my little one's class, but her teacher hasn't set up a schedule yet. So... I haven't been in that classroom. My little one is quite bitter about this fact, and so today, when I was looking at their daily schedule, I realized that I finish in my older daughter's class right at the time my little one goes to lunch.

Today, I had lunch with a table full of second graders. When I walked into the cafeteria, one of my daughter's classmates recognized me immediately and informed me that she was still in the lunch line. So I went to the lunch line and got to surprise a little girl. I love that she immediately wrapped her arms around me, and  smiled that goofy toothless smile common in second grade. We walked through the lunch line hand in hand, and the lunch lady tried to feed me, so I finally accepted a cup of sliced oranges. On the way to the table, my daughter informed me that another friend was saving her a spot.

I had no idea a table of little girls could be so crowded, yet still have room, but sure enough, when my daughter arrived, they scooted over to give her a spot. And the little girl charged with saving my daughter a spot cast me a mournful, apologetic look and told me she didn't save me a spot because she didn't know I was coming. So I squatted near the end of the table, and took in the noisy gaggle of girls while eating my orange slices. I realized, as they all chatted, that I know the little girls in my daughter's grade. I could look around the lunchroom and pick out the different cliques (yup, they exist in second grade), and I knew almost every kid in there. Well, the girls at least. And the cute boys they giggle about. And the bad boys they scorn.

And I was thankful.

Because there will come a time when she is too embarrassed to hug me in the hallway, walk with me hand in hand through the lunch line, or have me sit with her friends. As she gets older, I'll know the crowd she hangs with because I've been having lunch with them for years. Each time I have lunch with them, I learn a little more about them, from the kid who is involved in way too many activities, to the kid who is painfully shy but terribly sweet, and the innocent looking one who instigates most of the trouble. And okay, by the time she gets to high school, I won't know ALL of the kids she'll be hanging out with, but I've made a good start. I'm really thankful for that opportunity.

I should also mention, to all the moms and aunties and dads and uncles, that it really does mean a lot to the kids when you take the time to have lunch with the kids. They love showing you off to their friends, and their friends love it when you take an interest in them, not as a parent, but as a person. I know not everyone is lucky enough to work from home like I do, but if you can find a way, do it. Because every little girl at my daughter's table wished her mom or dad could have come to lunch.

What seemingly meaningless task can you be thankful for today?


Penni said...

You know that last school year we had a lot of trouble with our now 5th grader finishing trouble. So I had lunch almost every day with the kids (youngest's lunch was 20 minutes before oldest's). And I got to know all the kids in their classes and the kids knew me. It's kinda cool to be in the school and here my name. The ones who have known me since they were in K or 1st call me Miss Penni, the others call me by one of my last names (pick a name any name :=) ). I'm going up one or two days/week this year just cuz I like knowing who's who. And the hugs from more than my kids don't hurt, either.


Penni said...

PS- I do know the dif between "here" and "hear". Don't believe the evidence in the fist post that would indicate otherwise.

Danica Favorite said...

Penni, it is nice to walk through the school and have the kids recognize you. Some days I walk through the school feeling like a rock star. And yes, the hugs are great!