Last Friday, thanks to the generosity of so many of you, I had the privilege of taking a group of some pretty cool middle school kids out for a fancy lunch and then some serious book shopping.
I ended up with nine kids, and after they told me they were surprised I wasn’t older (they thought I was a retired teacher), we started the day by walking to The Kitchen for lunch. The restaurant was ready and waiting for us when we arrived, and they seated us at a long table right next to the actual kitchen. We could see everything happening, which was obviously fun for all of us.
One girl sat next to me at lunch and told me her mom had looked up the restaurant online and given her instructions to try everything. She ordered a cream soda, which she’d never had before, and texted photos of all her food to her mom. She told me as we were leaving that her mom had said she was proud of her. I told her I was too.
If there’s one thing I learned from teaching middle school kids for six years, it’s that they have no qualms about asking questions you likely don’t have answers to. They’re naturally curious and haven’t yet learned that sometimes it’s not polite to put people on the spot. So even though our server knew his stuff (and no doubt knows tons more about food in general than any of us), one of the kids stumped him when she asked what cream soda is made of. He very kindly replied: “You know, I’m not sure. I’ll find out for you.” He did, and all of our curiosities were satisfied, but I’m pretty sure I overheard some of the other staff teasing him about it after the fact.
After lunch, we headed across the street to Tattered Cover, where the store manager gave us a tour and helped the kids find the books they were looking for. When I asked him about purchasing a gift card for each kid, he said: “So, you want a $10 gift card for each one?” and I got to say: “Oh no, I’d like a $100 gift card for each one. This was a pretty successful bake sale.” His eyes widened and he just started to chuckle.
Most of the kids spent their entire gift card within about 10 minutes. They knew what they were looking for, found it, and were ready to go. Others took their time, really looking through everything the store had to offer, and a few of them bought only the books they could carry back to school, saving the rest of their gift cards for a later trip. One of the boys picked out a couple of books specifically to give to his little brother, which made me feel incredibly proud. The giving just keeps on giving!
I was so pleased to get to spend part of my day with this group of kids. They were polite and respectful, grateful and excited. Today is their last day of school, and I know each one of them has a stack of brand new books at home to look forward to over the summer.
Thank you, one last time, to each of you who helped. I feel like a success today because the whole thing worked out. More importantly, though, these kids have books to read tomorrow. There’s no telling how far the effects of that fact will reach.