One of my fiance’s traditions since his kids were small is eating lunch with them at school, and when we can (about twice a month), we sneak in a little lunch date with the kids now as well. The teachers love it, and the kids are thrilled when they see us wander into the lunchroom to enjoy their truly crappy school lunch with them.
I would advise calling your kid’s school first to see if it’s OK. Luckily, the kids all eat lunch at the elementary school, even the Junior High kids, so we get to eat lunch with all 4 of the kids in an hour and a half span. We eat lunch with the 6 year old first, then play with her during her lunch recess, until the Junior High kids (where the 12 and 14 year old come over to the elementary school) show up for their lunch time.
The 14 year old is a little embarrassed to see us sitting with her little brother, but her and her friends always skip over to make fun of her dad’s spouting beard and to chill with us for a few minutes until wandering away, chattering and giggling. We get to meet all the kids’ friends when we eat lunch with them, and see how they interact with their school mates and on the playground.
After Junior High lunch we sneak over to the 10 year old’s class and peek in, watching her do her school work and giving a “Shh” sign to the teacher, who grins broadly because she is well aware of what we are up to and who we came to see. Then when the kids line out of class for lunch we surprise her (she gets a little extra special attention since she’s the middle child and feels a little left out sometimes) and she hops on her daddy’s back for a piggy back to the lunch room where we can enjoy lunch with her as well.
Sometimes we buy a lunch from the school, but typically we just chill with the kids and hear how their day is going and lavish in the attention from all their friends (who refer to us as the dad and the older sister, Oi vay). We get to spend one-on-one time with the kids, see their classrooms when there’s time, and see how much they truly enjoy school. The principal and teachers all know who we are because we take the time to visit with them during lunch hours and view school projects on the walls and get input from the teachers how the kids are really doing. Plus, we get to play at recess, which is so much fun to do, with the kids proudly showing off the grown ups to their friends.
Soon enough, the 14 year old will begin to ignore us entirely when we show up. It’s sad to see, but she loves her daddy, so she tolerates his surprise visits at lunch red-faced and shy, giving us ample hugs and pointing to boys she has crushes on (oh, goodness). The other kids, for their part, nearly knock themselves over trying to get to us.
Show up at your kid’s school for lunch. It’s just an hour or so out of your day and lets you have a simple bond during school lunch that goes beyond just asking how their day went when they get home from school. It’s fun, sweet, and certainly a great way to show you care. I love the days we get to have lunch dates with the kids. There’s no greater joy than seeing the surprised looks on their faces when their daddy walks into the lunchroom.