In a child’s world, it seems that a Happy Meal from McDonald’s trumps just about any other meal there is. Something about that folded, paper box with handles and a .10¢ toy makes their day. Tyler, too, loves a Happy Meal. But he’s a bit different in that he actually prefers a variety of other foods to McDonald’s. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not complaining. My soul smiles when he asks me to pack hummus and crackers in his lunch, and I only wish I had the same eating habits. Regardless, I decided to surprise Tyler at school and have lunch with him based on several weeks of positive behavior in school and improved focus at swim team practice in the afternoons. After pondering what I should take him to eat, I settled on one of his favorites: Sushi. Yes, my seven year old looooooves sushi. I grabbed an extra pack of soy sauce, a carton of fresh raspberries, and I headed to meet Tyler. I was greeted by at least 100 talkative children who were busy trading cookies for fruit snacks, sharing birthday doughnuts with their classmates, and shouting happy birthday to Mr. Rusty, the school janitor, who clearly had a birthday to celebrate. It was
busy all around, but Tyler was super excited to see me, and the pride he felt in himself when I praised him for a job well done almost brought tears to my eyes. But while Tyler and I excitedly began to devour our meals, giggle about the little boys telling jokes at the table behind us, and ponder the fun we will have at the next school lunch we share together, something caught my eye. And it stopped me in my tracks.
A few seats down at the Parents Table, a young girl and her father were facing each other in the seats, her hands were in his, their heads were bowed, and their eyes were shut. And that father was praying. While I could not hear exactly what he was saying, I am fairly certain, considering the circumstances, that they were giving thanks….for the food before them…for the day…for their time together. And I was moved. I immediately felt ashamed that I, too, had not bowed my head with my son to give thanks to the God that provides for us…that I hadn’t offered myself as an example to those students around us who were watching…that I had been so busy eating that I didn’t stop to remember those who had no food…that I was not being the Godly example I wanted to be for my own child. But in that next moment, after I finished beating myself up, I did give thanks. I gave thanks for that father and daughter and their example to me…for the reminder that I should not ever take anything for granted. Not school lunches, sushi, 25 minutes in the cafeteria with Tyler, or inappropriate giggles from the boys at the next table. And I am indeed so very thankful. For so many things. Especially God. My God. The God who loves me despite my imperfections and selfishness…and who can show me over sushi and smiles that I need to make sure to show it.
And because I love my sweet 2nd grader, and because this is a photography blog, here’s a photo of Tyler on the first day of school this year.