Every Friday parents are invited to our daughter’s school to eat lunch with their children. Living close to the school, being at home with Haze, who misses her sister, and wanting to spend time with Mae, make it a nice way to round out our week. Plus, Fridays are ice-cream day – hard to pass up.
Haze and I sit with Mae as she laughs with friends, eats lunch, and carries on as a kindergartener does during unstructured time. I know that she enjoys seeing us in her day, but outwardly it doesn’t appear that she is overwhelmed with joy as she enters the cafeteria. Other than a smile, “Hello” and a “How’s your day?” she’s mostly interacting with her friends, being goofy. It felt as though she could take or leave us being there.
Then, one Friday morning I said, “Mae, we aren’t going to come to lunch today.” I thought she’d shrug it off and move on.
“What? Why?” came out of her mouth in a desperate tone that surprised me.
“I, well, we are going to go to the “Y”.” I said, still baffled that she cared so much.
“Oh.” She said as her head dropped to shoe-gaze.
“Honey, do you want us there?” I said.
“Yah, I like it when you come.” She said looking up.
“Oh, okay, we’ll be there.” I couldn’t have said anything else.
There are things that we do with, or for, people and we don’t know the impact we are having on them. Without an “It’s great to have you here.” or a “Thank you.” it can be difficult to gauge the importance of our actions. I know that our lunches are nice, but I didn’t know how much they meant to her. I get it now, she doesn’t, or shouldn’t, need to express her gratitude for every event we attend or help we lend, it is something that she accepts as usual, and that is more gratifying than tears of joy falling from her face while biting into a school lunch and looking solely at us. That, well, that would be weird.