Two summers ago, I ate lunch at Bertucci’s with Jack. Not once, twice or even three times.
I don’t even know how this ritual got started. During the summer of 2010, three of the kids were in camp, leaving me with just Jack and six-month old Henry for the day. I must’ve taken him there one random Monday and from that point on he insisted we do it every week. Monday mornings he’d come to the table for breakfast and announce “Bertucci’s for lunch today.” with an air of finality.
At first, it drove me crazy. I didn’t really want to start my Monday off with big doughy rolls dipped in oil. (You know as much as you say you aren’t going to eat one, you can’t help yourself. Admit it.) And as a mom of five, when I was down to just two kids, I had things to get done. The first few times it was hard for me not to feel antsy, thinking about the errands I could be running instead of sitting in a cool, dark restaurant.
But, as with all things Jack, I settled into his rhythm and every Monday at 11:45 I found myself sliding into a sticky booth at Bertucci’s.
He’d march up to the hostess desk and demand a table for two, and on the way to our seats he’d pester her about what kind of car she drove. We always had the same server, Tammy, and he always ordered the same thing – pepperoni pizza and a chocolate milk. He wordlessly ate every last slice. In fact, except for asking Tammy if she like Odysseys or Siena’s, he was silent throughout the entire meal.
He has no memory of our summery lunches, and when I asked him why he wanted to go there every week he shrugged “I don’t know”. I have no grasp of what this routine meant to him. Maybe he wanted to spend time with me when I could give him my undivided attention. Maybe he had a crush on Tammy. Maybe he liked the way the ceiling fans spun around, creating shadows on the slick table. Or maybe he just really, really liked their pizza.
Sometimes there are things we don’t understand the meaning of until they’re gone. When I think of those lunches with Jack, I have a deep ache in my soul. I dearly miss that six-year old boy even with the eight-year old one standing right in front of me.
(Literally. He’s standing right in front of me demanding waffles thisveryminute.)
This summer Jack is obsessed with radio stations and for the past month he’s been adamant that we only listen to 94.1 when we’re driving. It makes me nuts. The second I sit in the car he demands “Turn it! Turn in to 94.1. I need 94.1.” This particular station seems to have a repertoire of exactly six songs from artists like Katy Perry, Usher, and occasionally Adele.
(I told Jack if Katy Perry drove up our long driveway in her pink convertible or whatever it is pop stars like her drive, walked up the steps of the front porch in her platform heels, and knocked on our front door, I would tell her to shimmy her short-shorted rear back into her car and leave. That’s how tired I am of Katy Perry. Jack giggled into his hand and said he would tell her “Katy Perry. Come into my house” like a weirdo.)
But, if there’s any lesson to be learned from history, one day I’ll yearn for 94.1 the same way I yearn for the dimly lit dining room of Bertucci’s on sunny Monday afternoons. Now Jack goes to camp every day until 3:00 and our chances for lunch are less. He has outgrown our little ritual, but I haven’t. Today, I think I’ll pile him into the car, turn on 94.1 and head to Bertucci’s for some pepperoni pizza.
And if I’m lucky, maybe he’ll want to come back next Monday.