This morning at breakfast, my second grade daughter asked - practically begged - me to come eat lunch with her at school. Since her lunchtime is exactly when my preschooler needs to be picked up from school, the only way to make it happen is for me to pay extra money for him to stay for an extended period of time. Inconvenient and expensive - that's what lunch with my daughter meant. I almost said no.
Until I remembered asking my fourth grade son if I could come join him for lunch - he could even have food from the fast food establishment of his choice. He very politely yet very firmly declined. "It's OK, Mom. Really. You don't have to come. Really."
And then there was the time I truly lost all my senses and asked my seventh grade son the same question. His response was less polite but equally firm. "No way, Mom. Absolutely. No. Way."
And finally, I recalled a recent conversation with my ninth grade daughter in which I mentioned the possibility of me teaching English some day soon at her high school. "Anywhere else, Mom. Anywhere. Please!" "Meaning I would embarrass you? Am I strange? Ugly? Do I dress funny? What is it?" "It's just that you're my mom. That's just too weird."
So I made arrangements with the preschool and joined my second grader for lunch.
She hugged me at least ten times during the 30 minute lunch period. Other kids walked by our table and waved shyly at her while staring curiously at me. I could see how proud she was that I was there. She detailed the Measuring Olympics her class had held in the morning, pointed out a teacher who had been gone for 1 1/2 months for stomach surgery, showed me where her friends were sitting, and we discussed the ins and outs of bullying since the local police department was at the school passing out "No Bullying Zone" bracelets.
Before skipping to join her class in line, she kissed me on the cheek and told me she loved me.
My five-year-old son is happy to eat lunch with me every day and especially happy when that lunch is eaten at the park. He holds my hand, sits on my lap when he gets tired, and kisses me on the lips.
I was crazy to hesitate for even a second. Eating lunch with a kid who thinks I'm seriously cool is worth any inconvenience or expense.
For us moms, cool lasts for a limited time only. I'll hang on to it for as long as I can.