During cafeteria duty, a teacher's job would include walking around and observing the students and their behavior. Most students were well- behaved, possibly because they were so darn hungry..and their only thoughts were of pizza and bagels. Settling in at their assigned tables, they were busy unwrapping their lunches or digging into their school purchased meals.
Cafeteria duty afforded me the opportunity to meet many students that were NOT in my classes...such was the case with Nicole. Each day, I would pass four friends that sat together. I'd smile at them. They were sweet girls and very mature. After a week of greetings, they introduced themselves to me, and from that day forward, we often engaged in small talk.
Of the four friends, Nicole Pepe always brought a bag lunch to school. In a clean brown paper bag, she would find a sandwich, a folded napkin, a drink and a fruit. Nothing unusual, you might say. To the untrained eye, it may have appeared this way. However, having seen MANY lunches opened and devoured in the lunchroom over a period of years, to MY trained EYE..Nicole's lunch was extraordinary. Let me explain.
The waxed paper, which covered the sandwich, was folded neatly with clean edges (like sheets on a hospital bed). Double folded on top, it was easy for Nicole to open. Her sandwich, no matter what its contents, was always perfect. No lettuce leafs hanging over the edge of the bread. No sliced tomato sliding out when bitten [into]. No ham or cheese sticking out, as if crying for mercy. If it were a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there were no signs of oozing. The corners of the white bread were matched up and stood firmly, like the cornerstones of a building. The sandwich was always cut exactly in half, as if measured with a ruler before slicing. It may sound strange, but I admired her daily sandwich!
After a while, I realized it was not the sandwich which I admired..but the person who took the time to make it. I asked Nicole who prepared her sandwich each day. She must have thought it was a strange question, but answered anyway; her grandmother. I nodded my head, in understanding that it took a special lady to make such a sandwich.. with included love, as one of the fillings! Nicole's grandmother prepared it in the mornings; making it 'just right.' It was a small gesture of love..a 'daily gift' to her beloved granddaughter!! Not hurried nor tossed; but planned out and skillfully put together.
We live in a rapid world; there is no denying. We are not all retired and we do not all have the patience, and often, the extra time, to do something 'special' for our children or grandchildren. What I propose we do.. is decide to do ONE thing, for our kids, and do it lovingly. Do it slowly. Don't rush it. Fold it with a heart. Stamp it with a star. Seal it with a kiss. Complete it with a high five. Deliver it with colors.
Kids are smarter than we sometimes think they are...and, they CAN TELL how much love and effort we put into THEM.