Today I finished up lunch time with the grandkids at their schools, with a double treat. Grandsons Joey and Oliver attend the same school. This year, their lunch times are back to back. I showed up with the boys’ orders: Nachos Bellegrande from Taco Bell for Joey and a cheeseburger meal from McDonalds for Oliver. Dr. Peppers and chocolate chip cookies completed their meals.
Oliver, who is finishing up second grade, had lunch first. His class was entering the cafeteria as I was and he called out to me. As soon as his teacher gave him permission, he joined me and selected a place to sit.
We had fun catching up. I asked him all about his recent activities and he asked me about mine. As school is ending, I asked him what he had most enjoyed about the past school year. He was quick to tell me about the fun classes he goes to that change with the days of the week: PE, art, music and computer lab. He’s especially enjoying computer classes, now that they are allowed to play games. As he ate, Oliver, who likes to try unusual food combinations, created the chocolate chip cheeseburger! He assured me it was delicious. I’d like to let him sample a donut hamburger, made with a beef patty between two glazed donuts.
Our conversation turned to sports. Oliver will be playing football for the first time this summer, as a Tiger. We discussed sportsmanship, after Ollie told me about a classmate who displays anger when he loses, arguing about the rules or the call, and ultimately stomping away to seethe. Oliver’s eyes softened as he told me it’s not about winning or losing. The fun is in getting to play. Just play. I’m so proud of his attitude. I’m looking forward to watching this bright and wise boy play.
Oliver was the last child to leave the lunchroom, before the next group arrived. His amazing principle chatted with us, took a picture of us for me, and let Oliver stay a little longer. Inquisitive and charming, Oliver lingered to talk and hug on each other until the fourth graders filed in. After a final embrace and a non-embarrassing kiss on the side of his head, he tossed his trash and trotted away, just as Joey arrived at the table.
Joey, completing fourth grade, is looking more and more like a young man. As he started on his plate of nachos he began our conversation with questions about how I was, how was my day going, what all had I been doing. He got the jump on me, this sweet, creative and thoughtful boy!
We discussed a broad range of topics, from school to summer vacation to movies to sports. I love these one on one times of talking with each of my five grandkids, watching their earnest, expressive faces, listening to their thoughts expressed. I value what they have to say. I marvel at their keen intellects and perspectives. I asked Joey what his favorite thing about the past school year was, and he shared about the fun day his class had yesterday at the 40 Mile Party.
Intrigued, I wanted to hear more. Apparently each child in the class set a goal of running 40 miles this semester. Every day they ran a mile or two at recess or during PE. For completing their goals, the whole class had a day long field trip yesterday, that included time at the park, a pizza lunch and time at the Y. I was impressed! What a great way to encourage kids to set healthy goals and accomplish them in small, manageable steps. And how fun, the celebration.
In fact, today seemed to carry over that party atmosphere. Everyone was in high spirits and casual dress, students and teachers and the principal all, as the last days of the school year are winding down. I’ve never seen a school principal who engages so well with his students. He interacts with them, in fun and educational ways, as they eat lunch. He let the kids play a game called Pick a Door, in which 6-8 kids at a time leave the cafeteria and one by one, they re-enter from the hallway through one of four doors. The kids in the cafeteria hold up fingers to indicate which door they believe the child will enter through. They love it, laughing as they count up how many guesses were correct. I only guessed when Joey entered in, and I guessed correctly. He came back into the lunchroom through door number four.
As lunch with Joey concluded, I hugged him and kissed the back of his head. He cleared away his trash as I gathered my things to leave. Suddenly he was behind me, slipping his arms around me for a last tight hug. I love how affectionate each of my grandchildren are. They freely give and receive love. Delighted, I turned to embrace Joey again. His face lit up with a beautiful smile.
As I drove away after those fun lunches, with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I thought about all five of my grandchildren. These kids. These fun, smart, talented, loving kids. I believe I am at my most authentic self when I am with any of my grandkids. They allow me to be me, fully. They allow me to be my quirky, creative, loving self. I hope they know that with me, they can do the same, be exactly, and fully, who they are at this moment…and in every moment throughout their lives. I love each one dearly. I am loved in return.
I am a blessed, and grateful, Yaya.