I packed up my lunch yesterday and headed to school to eat with my kids. My daughter smiled and bounced in her seat at breakfast when I announced I would be coming. My son said OK. That’s pretty much how it goes every time. But I knew something was up when he walked into the cafeteria at lunch and looked at the wall instead of at me. He sat at his table with his friends, and when I motioned for him to join his sister, her friend, and me, he shook his head no and wouldn’t look back. Dissed. Is my third-grader already too old for this?
I’ll be honest: It stung a little. When the excitement of having Mom meet you for lunch has dwindled by third grade and wanting to be with friends begins to take over, it’s a bit of a shock. I know it happens. I remember vividly that inner struggle as a kid, wanting to be with my parents but wanting to be with my friends too. (Though I was much older, I’m sure.) You don’t want to miss any of the fun and really, you want to seem cool. Eating with Mommy isn’t cool after a while. Boys can’t talk about bathroom situations and gross stuff when Mom is around, and Lord knows they do. And Mom might ask questions. Yeah, I would certainly do that. “What do you like to do?” “What sports do you play?” Seems like a logical time to get to know the kids my kids hang out with. Maybe it’s too much.
My son looked over at me once during lunch. I played it cool. I mean, we were having fun. You know, yeah, whatever man. He had a good time with his friends, whispering and laughing and bonding over Spaghettios and Wonder Bread.
I don’t eat lunch often with my kids at school. My kids ask when I’m coming again as soon as I leave the lunch room. But when he blew me off and pretended I wasn’t there, I tried not to be bummed. I saw his point-of-view: time to hang with friends and let my guard down or be with Mom, another supervisor. It was just harder seeing it from a mom’s point-of-view.
That afternoon during pick-up time, I debated blowing him off. Instead, I decided to just let him sweat it out a few extra minutes.
Later on I was going about my to-do list at home. He came up and hugged me. A big bear hug. No words. No prompting. Just a giant squeeze around my waist. I get it, son, all of that growing up stuff. I do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.