Peter is excited to be in middle school (although for him that literally just means being upstairs instead of downstairs) because he gets to change classes and has multiple teachers. I think changing classes is good for him - being able to get up, going to his locker, moving to a new room - all help him to stay more focused. (At least I hope that's what's happening!)
And Sarah is excited that now that she's in 5th grade she has the same lunch period as the middle school kids - which means she can now sit beside all her friends at lunch. No more assigned lunch seating is making this girl very happy!
And speaking of lunch, the first three days of this week have been half days so as soon as I picked the kids up from school we stopped somewhere for lunch on the way home. Peter really wanted Arby's yesterday so I obliged.
We spread out in our booth, Peter and I on one side, Sarah and her kid's meal on the other. She had taken the toy prize, which happened to be a small Mr. Potato Head and spread all the pieces out in the empty spot beside her.
We began to eat our meal when an older man approached our table. I could tell he was eyeing the area where Sarah had placed her plastic potato parts and I got the feeling that if they hadn't been there, he would have made himself right at home.
He stood at our table for a bit, asked if the kids were brother and sister, asked if they were nice to one another, lectured them on brotherly love when I told him that no, they weren't always nice to one another, told us he had traveled the world and proceed to list all the many countries he had visited.
And then, he told us "ga-day" because that's how they say it in Austriala (one of his favorite countries) and began to turn around.
It was at that point that I felt like I really should ask him to join us. I could almost hear God saying, "Just ask him to sit with you. He's harmless, just a little lonely. Do it."
But, in typical me fashion, I thought, "He's probably not lonely, just a little crazy. And look God, he's already heading to that table where that other woman is sitting all alone. He'll sit with her, they can chat and we can eat our lunch in peace."
And God just shook his head and sighed, "Beth, why do you always think you know better than me?"
I watched the man approach the woman at the booth next to us. He asked her if she minded if he sat with her and ate his lunch and she responded, "Yes, I actually do mind."
At that point, I knew what I had to do - what I should have done in the first place. "Sir, if you're looking for some company, you can sit here with us. We've got plenty of room."
The kid's eyes got wide and they looked nervous. We cleared the plastic toys from beside Sarah and he slid in next to her.
We ate our meals and he, Jere was his name, proceeded to tell us all about himself, the places he's been, what he did for work in the past, what he does for fun now that he's retired. He was a friendly man who has lead a fascinating life. He even showed us the tattoo of Hawaii he got two years ago.
After he finished his small drink and order of mozzarella sticks, we cleaned up our mess and said our good byes. He gave me his business card that listed actor, photographer and author under his name, and we went our separate ways.
As we were heading to the car I could hear God whispering, "See that wasn't so hard, now was it?"
In the car, I told the kids that God wants us to be kind and to be friendly to people that might be lonely and that He was probably very glad we ate lunch with Jere even though we didn't really want to. I told them that sometimes doing the hard thing means you are doing the right thing.
And then Sarah (my sweet little Sarah) said, "It's like how you are always telling us if we notice someone at school that doesn't have anyone to play with we should go play with them."
Yes, Sarah, it's exactly like that!
Sometimes, you have to put your money where your mouth is.
And most times, it's better to show your kids how to live, than to simply tell them.