G and I were having lunch together on Thursday. He was very quiet, but he had that look that I know so well that hints to me there is a big idea he’s trying to put into words. Finally, he looks at me and says, “Yesterday, was my long day at school.”
Me: Yes, it was.
G: Why did you pack my lunch in my backpack?
Me: I packed your lunch because it was your long day at school.
G: It made me sad.
Me: It made you sad that I packed your lunch in your backpack? Weren’t you hungry at lunch time?
G: I like pizza.
And then I realized what G was trying to communicate. For those who buy their lunch, Wednesday is pizza day at G’s school. When it was time for lunch, some of G’s friends got to have pizza, but G had to eat the lunch I packed for him. It made him sad that other kids got pizza, and he didn’t.
I sat quietly while the enormity sank in. G was noticing what the other kids were doing, and he wanted to be like them. From a kid who had absolutely no awareness of his peers nor interest in what they were doing, all the way to a kid who is sad because he didn’t get pizza. AND he could tell me about it. AND we could make a plan for next time. Wow. Just wow.
Me: Did some of your friends buy pizza yesterday?
G: Yes, some friends buyed pizza. But not me. I had my lunchbox in my backpack. I was sad about that.
Me: G, would you like to buy pizza next week? I can keep your lunchbox at home on Wednesday.
With that, G looked me right in the eyes and smiled. We had a plan. There would need to be more to it. Navigating a line full of energetic kindergartners who might accidentally bump into G on the way through the narrow kitchen door would be a challenge. As would learning the system of which foods were acceptable choices according to the lunch system. Ditto to balancing a flimsy cafeteria tray piled high with items that were both hot and spillable. Yes, there were many details that would need to be thought through in order to fulfill G’s request.
But damn, wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall when he takes his first bite of school lunch pizza?