Experiencing Jodness


Often an experience brings you joy or sadness. Today I experienced both wrapped up in one.

As I washed Stephanie’s lunchbox out today, it dawned on me that if my calculations are correct, with half school days for exams, honor student lunch, and previously placed lunch orders, today was the last time I’ll ever pack a lunch for that kid. Next year she’ll be in high school, and food is included in the tuition.

When it first hit me, I was elated! Hot damn! One less miserable thing to do before 7 AM. I don’t have to hear, “Dad, you got my sandwich and Michelle’s sandwich mixed up again!! I like ham. She eats turkey!  Got it?”

No longer do I have to search for a vegetable or fruit to ease my conscience – something to toss between the Cheetos and Pirate’s Bootie so they appear less unhealthy. No longer will I be searching for her cold packs at the crack of dawn, realizing I never returned it to the freezer to re-chill. I’ll never have to wash her lunchbox again or futz with the ornery zipper. Only three more years and Michelle will complete the cycle.  I’ll be fully out of the lunch making business! Whoa whoa.

And then it hit me… no longer will Stephanie rely on me to fill her mid day belly. I won’t have the option to tuck in a funny love note to surprise her at school. I remember the first year I made her lunches.  She wasn’t much bigger than her lunchbox.  I tried my mom’s go tos – tuna and egg salad; Vienna Sausages; cold, dry bologna sandwiches – she didn’t complain.  She just returned home with tuna and egg salad; Vienna Sausages; and cold, dry bologna.

“Stephanie, you didn’t eat your lunch baby.”

She’d smile and sweetly confess, “I didn’t like that stuff.”

No longer is my baby in middle school. She’s growing up. She’s moving on.

I got a lump in my throat – a lump about packing lunches. Lisa would have popped open a bottle of champagne. Not me.  I’m too damn sentimental.

I think this phenomena of jodness (joy + sadness) might become a regular for me. Graduations are in my future. There could be a wedding or three. Maybe a wonderful career opportunity for my kid that isn’t within walking distance of Dellwood Drive.

Oh the joy! Oh the throat lump. I just feel jod tonight.

Sunday Post 42: The Ostrich

Posted by Danny

I often just miss the little things.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps its a lack of focus or maybe a tad too much self-absorption.  This trait didn’t instantly appear due to grief; I think I’ve always been this way.  I’m just not aware of the small things that I could do to make others’ lives a little bit better.

Last week I stumbled into a tiny opportunity and took it without realizing what I’d done.

A mother from Michelle’s school sent an email to the other parents in the class asking if someone could cover her lunch duty.  At our school, parents cover lunch once a week so that the teachers can have one day to eat in peace.  I never signed up to help with this task (I’m sure I had more important things to do).

When I got the email, I glanced at my calendar and realized that I didn’t have a lunch meeting on the day she needed help so I shot a quick reply that I could help.  I didn’t want to sound too eager in the event some other parent had already volunteered, although I was glad to take on this 30 minute role.

When she responded that I got the job, I entered it into my calendar and didn’t think another thing about it.

The next night when I arrived home, Michelle greeted me at the door. 

“Dad, are you doing lunch duty for my class on Thursday?”

“Actually, I am.  How did you find out?”

“My teacher told me.  She said, ‘Mrs. Jones was coming to class on Wednesday for an art project and that Mr. Tanner was the parent volunteer for lunch this week.’  I said, ‘He is?’  I couldn’t believe it!  You never do lunch duty!” 

I gave her a hug and moved on about the business of cooking dinner.  When we sat down to eat, I tossed out my usual conversation started, “OK, it’s that time!  Tell me the best thing that happened to you today.”

Michelle jumped in, “My best thing was when my teacher told me that you were coming to lunch at my school tomorrow!”  

That sweet little comment knocked the wind out of me.  The best thing that happened to my child on Wednesday was finding out that I was spending 30 minutes at her school – WOW.

She did warn me not to do my stupid magic tricks at the lunch table – that they were in third grade now and that they wouldn’t be amused.  So I didn’t.  Instead, after leaving the dining room, I did my ostrich impression across the school blacktop.  In fact, I taught all of the kids how to do it, and we ran back and forth four or five times, necks protruding, arms dangling out and knees bobbing up and down toward our armpits.

Michelle rolled her eyes, but she ran along with us laughing all the way.

I want to learn how to make more joy for my kids – and really for the world.  If all it takes is 30 minutes and an animal impression, it just isn’t a very hard thing to do.

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