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Go Ask Mom

Sloane Heffernan: Just lunch ... no duty

Posted September 28

Don’t you love the parents who volunteer for lunch duty? Let’s face it: It means the rest of us are off the hook.

Don’t get me wrong - I enjoy volunteering and I want to do my part to help the school, but the fact that lunch happens in the middle of my day is a big inconvenience!

So, naturally, I cringed a little when my first grader discovered that moms and dads help with lunch duty. My six-year-old was filled with excitement when she announced that I could come to school every day to help the kids open their milk cartons. Oh boy!

The look on my face must have said it all because my little problem solver quickly switched gears and suggested another option. She said I could join her and her friends for lunch. Better!

Just lunch - no duty.

We set a date for the following week. When I arrived, she spotted me from across the lunchroom and came running. It was as if she had not seen me in a million years, even though we had just hugged goodbye a few hours earlier. She raced over, wrapped her arms around me and jumped for joy. Her friends followed and began chanting my name. I felt like a rock star!

As we sat down, each child was more excited than the next to tell me about their day, show me the contents of their lunch box and talk about their plans for recess. They eagerly asked if I could join them on the playground. How could I say no? The rock star treatment alone was intoxicating, but the children’s seemingly endless exuberance was truly infectious. Sign me up!

Off we went to the playground where we jumped rope, sang songs and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so simple, so sweet and so much fun. All this joy just for showing up!

It made me realize that I don’t “show-up” enough. I’m so “busy” with a seemingly endless list of duties and distractions, work and chores, errands and appointments, social media and mind-numbing television that I don’t always “show-up” where it matters the most.

Children live in the moment. They celebrate the little things. They love with all of their hearts.

I got a good taste of what I had been missing during my lunch date with these first graders.

It’s no wonder those parents sign up for lunch duty.

Sloane Heffernan is a mom of three and a reporter for WRAL-TV.

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