Matthew 8:20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
About a third week into my “office-less” existence, I remembered that my children’s elementary school has an open door policy to their cafeteria. Parents are welcome to sit and eat with their children. They even have a table with a tent card sharpied “Parent’s table.” I had no other place to go so why not?
“I am going to eat lunch with you this week Ian and Elina!”
“Why? You don’t have a place to eat?”
“No! Because I want to spend more time with you?”
Outside of the teachers, I was the only adult at the cafeteria. My cheek flushed red. The “Parent’s Table” tent card read “Loser’s Table” and my hyper sensitive ears picked up the whispers of the teachers, “He must be out of job, the only parent to actually come and eat here since we opened!” But those voices were quickly drowned by my chatty kids telling everyone within an earshot, “This is my dad!”
I am not sure if my kids were happy to sit with me or that they got to sit at the parents table (I know both will not be the case from middle school on so it doesn’t matter and I should enjoy it while they still celebrate my presence). Some of their friends begged if they could join us . My kids finished their lunch with gusto and when they lined up to return to class, they were beaming and their classmates were little green with envy.
“Dad, can you come every day!?” Elina begged me that evening as she slurped her spaghetti. But if I go every day, then I know the teachers will be talking.
“Honey, you are 43 and you have no office! You are eating lunch on plastic chairs made for kids. Are you okay?” My wife inquired of my soul, fingering more noodles for my plate.
Then we both smiled, first at the absurdity of a 43 year old sitting on a children’s chair having lunch regularly at a school cafeteria, than at the absurdity of seeing such opportunity as an absurdity. We all laughed and it was like a switch was flicked and the light of laughter dispelled the fears because there was no substance to the shadows.
“You know,” I answered, “those chairs were not that bad, and cafeteria lunch has drastically improved…no sloppy joes, and that name says it all, and it is kind of nice to eat with your kids and not have to clean up after them, and that they only have twenty minutes and I am not the one shouting at them to hurry up, now that is really nice,” I finished off my spaghetti with a little gulp of water, “I get to actually enjoy lunch with them, like a date with the kids!”