Cold lunch, hot date

Lunch today is the highlight of my week.

Not because of the food. Although the ciabatta roll, black forest ham, and deli fresh cheddar cheese did beat the average PB&J by a long-shot.

It was the company.

My cousin’s third grade daughter.

I texted my cousin last night for details on lunch time, lunch menu, and lunch procedures. I easily located the school, front door, and office where I handed over my driver’s license and received a lovely visitor pass (see below).

hall pass

After passing check-point security, I was led to the correct third grade classroom where I waited for the teacher to finish educating young minds. My cousin’s daughter spotted me and flashed an ear-to-ear grin, whispered to her classmate who eyed me with curiosity, and turned to listen to her teacher who explained that lunch, gym, Advanced Reader, and their Minnesota maps were all on the schedule for the day.

Finally, after wrapping up a project, the class was dismissed to the hall. My cousin’s kiddo, front of the line, waved to me again and then whizzed down the hallway with her classmates. Almost to the restroom for handwashing, she whipped around declaring, “I forgot my lunch!” Cute lunch-bag in hand, we caught up with each other and she wrapped her arms around me in a big hug, leaning on me with all of her excitement. The teacher reminded the class to remain quiet in the hallway, so we quit chit-chatting and walked in silence to the lunch room. Once there, cold lunches were permitted to enter first. I was led through the maze of diners to a seat on the bench next to my lunch date, leaving enough room for her friends who were in line for chicken nuggets and burgers. We opened our respective cold lunch bags and unpacked the yummy-ness. She went straight to the go-gurt; I went for the sandwhich. Glad I had made the ham and cheese choice as I watched a boy squirt his entire ketchup packet on his less-than appealing hamburger. The kid to his left was picking off the onions with a look of disdain, inspecting each one before dropping them on his tray. While the girl on my right needed assistance opening her ketchup packet. Following IGers who post Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger pics probably didn’t help the hot-lunch hamburger’s case.

Third-grade eyes followed my every move.

The girls were testing to see who could name everyone at the table. All of the girls remembered my name, which I was super excited about. According to my embarrassed lunch buddy, it was un-cool when I made my un-signature “winning gesture.”

Toward the end of lunch, the boy who hates onions leaned in and yelled, “Who is she? How do you know her?” My cousin’s daughter looked at him like he was an annoying third grade boy and said, “She’s my mom’s cousin! Duh.” His reply reminded me why I love third graders, “Well, how would I know that? It’s not like I stalk you all the time.”

Kudos, kiddo. Kudos.

We finished our lunches, my lunch date volunteered to clean off the tables and benches (which she’s never offered to do when I’ve babysat her…!), and we headed down the hall with the rest of her class in single-file fashion. Last in line, we  whispered back and forth. I rubbed her sweet little head and squeezed her shoulders. Before re-entering her classroom, she dumped her lunch bag in her locker and wrote herself a note on her trendy whiteboard (gold). I caught a glimpse as she was slamming the door shut.

“Megan” was scribbled in third grade penmanship.

She hugged me one last time and headed back to class. I waved goodbye, smiling as I entered the office to sign-out.

My favorite subject today was definitely lunch.

I believe I have another lunch date on the horizon. The third grader has a younger sister.




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