Lunch with a loved one. Because parent luncheons didn't work because too many parents couldn't consistently make it. Grandparents? Too many lived far away. Or no longer lived at all. So lunch with a loved one was conceived as a catch-all phrase to cover anyone special in the child's life that could make it to lunch with them.
I have never missed a lunch with a loved one for either of my girls. I like them. I like them a lot. I like the opportunity to see my child in her natural environment. That makes it sound like I'm observing monkeys in the zoo. I'm not going to edit it.
I like meeting their friends and I love having special one-on-one time with each child - away from their sibling. All about them. I love the proud way they show me around their classroom and their school. I've even learned to accept (if not love) that they'll ditch me in a minute to play with their friends. I like watching them interact with their friends. I like the way their face lights up when they initially see me, waving at me like little maniacs. Like they hadn't seen me just a couple hours before. There's something special about being where you usually aren't.
I'm lucky, and I know it. I am a stay-at-home mom with no obligations other than those which I impose on myself. I'm lucky I get to experience this every year, twice a year. I'm lucky.
Less lucky are those kids who do not get a lunch date and those parents who, usually due to circumstances way out of their control, can't make it to these events. It is often just unreasonable to expect parents to be able to rearrange their whole day so that they can spend half an hour at their child's school. I'm sure many of them would love to. It's just not always feasible.
I've watched kids from preschool on up during these events. As they get older, they do seem to be better equipped to understand that their parents (or grandparents, or general loved ones) can't always make it. Or maybe they just get better at masking their disappointment.
Because of this, I really don't think days like this are a good idea.
I say that with a heavy heart, because I personally adore them. I'm lucky. But fighting to keep them because I enjoy them when they make so many kids and parents sad is just full-on selfish. Yet I don't want it to be taken away from me, even though I know it's an inherently bad idea.
I realized that this was not completely unrelated to the feelings I experienced when my university's mascot changed from the politically incorrect and offensive 'Indians' to the more benign 'Crimson Hawk's'. I understood the need to switch. I even agreed with it. But dammit, I wasn't a 'Crimson Hawk', I was an 'Indian'. My alumni magazines used to be greeted with enthusiasm, but now they just go straight to the recycle bin. It's not my school anymore.
That's ok. Time goes by, things change, it's not all about me (or so I'm told). It's not all about what makes me comfortable and/or happy. There is a whole community, nation, world to consider.
Sometimes that means I lose, for the greater good.
For now, though? I get to continue to enjoy lunch with my loved ones once a year. And I pull as many of those kids without a grown-up lunch date to our table and offer them a cookie and listen to their stories.
And that's ok, too.