Just forget it. Or don’t.

About 10 minutes after noon my phone rang.
Our sons’ school had a half-day. That morning I had packed two lunches for two boys, but somehow only one lunch made it to the afterschool program. And I wasn’t due to pick them up for five or six hours.

“I gave him what we have—some pretzels and string cheese,” the afterschool teacher said.
“Did he eat it?” I asked.
“He ate string cheese?” I said. “Wow. He must really be hungry.”
I hit a drive-through, picked up food for both boys—you can’t show up with a fun meal only for one and not the other—and delivered it to them.
They were all smiles. We hugged, I handed over the food, and I headed on my way.
Maybe if I hadn’t shown up with food, our son would have learned a valuable lesson. He certainly would have survived. You won’t starve eating pretzels and string cheese. And maybe he would be more likely to remember his lunch in the future.
But though there’s a value in that lesson, that’s not what I’m trying to teach our children. Our sons know that both my husband and I work full-time. They know we have many priorities. But they also know we are a family. And I want our sons to know that when you make a mistake or you find yourself in a bad spot, the people you love show up.
Sometimes they drive an hour and a half each way to deliver the backpack you forgot after your weekend home from college.
Sometimes they bring milk and chicken soup and Oreos to your door when you can’t get to the store because everyone in the house is sick.
Sometimes they shovel more than 2 feet of snow off your walk while you’re flying home from China.
And sometimes they show up at your afterschool program with chicken nuggets.
That’s what family members do. We don’t just say we love one another. We show it through our actions.
That lunchbox? Oh, he’ll forget it again—guaranteed. But the lesson in love is one I hope he’ll remember.
P.S. Remind me to get my father a really wonderful gift for his birthday since all those gestures I described above were his.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.