Yesterday Grant asked me to come to his school to have lunch with him. Fortunately his school not only allows this but encourages it so I gladly said yes.
This morning I asked him if he had any ideas of what I should wear to his school. "Anything is okay, just not anything too hoochie, okay?"
Pardon me? When did he even learn the word "hoochie"? And have I been known to wear "hoochie" clothes?
I tried to go for a demure yet casual look for our lunch date but I couldn't resist wearing my green flower ring. Does this count as hoochie?
I think not.
I had forgotten how wonderful the bulletin boards are at elementary school. As I waited for Grant outside the cafeteria I taught myself the sign language words for "P.E." and "read" and "backpack".
Then Grant came around the corner and saw me, and he looked so excited. It was the sweetest thing in the world. He held my hand but didn't talk to me since talking isn't allowed in the hallway.
Maybe that explains the sign language bulletin boards.
Then he showed me how to get food in the cafeteria and I was reminded of the day 15 years ago when his father did the same thing, in a different cafeteria, one that was halfway around the world at Chiba University in Japan. That was our first encounter, and the rest is history.
I had a ball talking with Grant's classmates during lunch. This one little girl was so cute. Here's a recap of our conversation:
"Did you know they sell cookies for a quarter up there? You can get four for a dollar!"
"That's very impressive math, Madeline. And you're right. Four quarters is a dollar."
"You know, you could go up there and buy four cookies right now."
"I guess I could, Madeline, but I could never eat that many cookies."
"You could give them to us!"
"That's a great idea Madeline!"
And me, being the pushover that I am, I bought four cookies and gave them to Grant's classmates.
After lunch Grant's teacher let me hang around for recess, which Grant calls "Reese's". He's confused as to why they don't hand out peanut butter cups at Reese's break.
Then after Reese's the class lined up and Grant asked me for a hug and a kiss goodbye. This is huge, folks. When I picked him up at his school in China he completely ignored me. He said, "If people see me hugging an English woman they'll think I'm English."
News flash #1: I'm not English.
News flash #2: Even if you don't hug me, people can tell you're half white.
But after a few weeks in the U.S. he is not only not ashamed of me, he's proud of me. I guess he sees that in a different context, I'm not a bumbling, lost fool. Instead I'm smart and capable. And I have some cool rings.
Of course we all know I've always been smart and capable rather than bumbling and lost, but you have to see it from the perspective of an 8-year-old.
All I can say is thank God for different contexts. And for 25¢ cookies. And for schools that encourage parents to come to school for lunch.
And most of all, thank God for 8-year-old boys.