The neighbor kids saw us outside this morning and came over to play. It is warm, sunny, and so springlike today, but it almost feels like a summer day: long hours of playing outside with friends, lunch in the yard, kids overtired and filthy-dirty but just not quite ready to come in yet.
I offered to make lunch for the kids, and they all started chattering excitedly at the prospect of an outdoor picnic. They drew chalk-pictures on the drive while I puttered around in the kitchen, pulling out the trays and plates that we haven’t used for months.
i cut out bread into shapes of hearts and flowers, making little delicate tea-sandwiches with peanut butter, cheese and ham, and mustard.
we put the dainty niblets on a festive tray, along with cut-up fruit and carrot sticks. i found honey pretzels in the cupboard, and some juice boxes for them to drink.
the kids circled around the tray, which we set out on the porch. they sat around it in a huddled circle, without inviting me in. it was their lunch, not mine, and we all sensed this. it was okay; i still had to clean up the kitchen. as I turned to go in, they started grabbing food and eating it like wild things, which, i suppose, they still are. they jabbered constantly, laughing to beat the band.
i was proud of my tea sandwiches and the pretty lunch tray. but then i realized that the conversation was not about my sandwiches at all, but about nonsense things that had nothing to do with me.
moving in and around the circle but not part of the circle, like a servant, while they chattered in a nearly foreign dialect of childhood innocence and naivete, i began to feel somewhat sad, almost angry.
i was outside. outside the group, outside the conversation. it was nothing about me. it did not include me. it did not care if i was there, and preferred that i was not.
i felt so jealous then, jealous of the group and of my girls, so inside the group while i was so outside of it.
but ultimately i am very, very happy for them.
and if it means that i make tea sandwiches and play servant in the background, i don’t mind. it’s their turn to sit in the circle.