“No, I don’t want to sit by you, I’ll just buy lunch.” He said.
I expected some distance or ‘pushing away’ in Junior High or even 6th grade. Last year, when my first born was in kindergarten I had lunch with him almost every Friday. Now, I have been cast aside. As a first grader, he prefers to buy is own lunch, as oppose to having me pack it. He no longer welcomes lunch with mom and dad, he wants to sit with his classmates.
I am not taking it personal, I am just trying to get a rational reason for this change. Yes, kids need space to bloom and grow. But why this and why now.
I want to grab his shoulders and shake him “Timothy, give me a logical explanation and I promise to drop this ‘not wanting to have lunch with mom’ issue forever.”
But of course, I don’t. At this age they are not good at providing rational excuses. (See Exhibit A: Richard dropping a glass on the floor, after I had told him if he dropped the glass on the floor it would break. Why would he do that? who knows! Maybe he was trying to verify my information. Maybe he was checking to see if gravity was still working.)
Luckily, Tim was once a five-year-old boy. He remembers no longer wanting a packed lunch half way through 1st grade.
“What would you usually pack him?” he asked me.
“Well, it would depend, like a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, or a hot dog or ….”
“He has that at home,” Tim said. “He gets his milk and turns the corner and OMFG it’s like Christmas, it could be a corn dog or chicken nuggets or anything else.”
“Oh, it’s the anticipation of the unknown, I can understand that," I said.
And it clicks. I no longer pack TW’s lunch for the same reason Tim has never wanted a pack lunch for his work. Big Tim uses lunch time to destress. Not packing his lunch makes it so he has to walk away from work and take a little mental break. Little Tim might need the same thing, sitting with his friends at lunch gives him the mental decompression he probably wouldn’t get visiting his mom, who is more likely than not going to pepper him with “What have you learned so far” questions.
I take solace in knowing that I have at least another year with my Kindergartener before he starts opting out of sitting with mom for the luxury of a styrofoam tray and a sad looking corndog.
And to Timothy’s new found independence, I say “here’s your two bucks, enjoy your lackluster school cafeteria lunch, I’ll see you when you get out of school and we can avoid the kiss goodbye until further notice.”
Happy Birthday Son!