Lunch language

unrelated picture but I love how they ended up posing just the same, down to the shape of their hands

Saturday morning.
We divide to conquer the day's list. Greg takes Sam with him to the barber (both need trims) and the dry cleaners, I take the girls to Costco for supplies for the trip and food for the party we're hosting when we get back from vacation. The humid air makes quick work of my hair and my clothes cling to me, damp and unflattering. We get the cart loads packed into the car, drive home, unload and put everything away. Surveying the room with our looming departure in mind, I move on to the laundry, replacing dry with wet and wet with dirty. And there's always more where that came from.

You know the drill.

In the middle of it all, Sam arrives home and, trailing me while I carry piles of laundry upstairs, asks his usual question "when are we having lunch? I'm hungry." I sigh, loudly. There's so much to do. And it feels like we just finished breakfast.

"Sam, you know where everything is. You can make it yourself, can't you?" (Once I heard someone ask "What, are your arms painted on?" and that's how I feel in this moment.)

"Um, okay." His voice trails off as he backs up down the stairs, trailing his hand down the banister. "I didn't know if we were getting it ourselves or if it would be more...together."

I watch him take his deflated self back down to the kitchen, trying to figure out what his deal is with lunch. Everyone else in the family is always content to grab something on days like this, happy to tailor the timing and content of lunch to their own preferences. No big deal. But not Sam. He's always trying to organize us into a midday meal.

Guilt-nudged, I follow him down and enlist his sandwich-making while I peel fruit. We sit down together and share communal chips and salsa. He chatters happily about Louie and contradictions and plans for middle school and the book he's reading. And thanks me three times for doing lunch.

And then it hits me.
I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize.
Lunch is his love language. Or one of them, anyway.
It's a revelation. Huh. Kids have a love language, too, not just venus-and-mars married couples. This bit of obviousness has completed evaded me before now.

Of course I knew he really likes lunch, but I suddenly understand that it's more than just a preference for my daily servitude. For him, it is connection. It is proof I care enough to stop and spend time with him. For me, lunch is simply nourishment and work. For him it is like a family sacrament, where simple bread and peanut butter transform miraculously into a dose of love.

Well. This I can do.

Now if I can just convince him that wiping up the table crumbs and putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher is my love language.