Friday Wine and Good Times
I haven’t worked a traditional job in almost two years, but I still love Friday nights. That interlude between the work week and the weekend.
In fact, if anyone ever asks me what’s my favorite wine, I always reply: “Friday night wine.”
It’s true. Whatever’s in my glass on Friday evening is the best wine ever. It can be red or white, pricey or two-buck Chuck.
So I was delighted when at 6:31 last Friday morning my phone chirped a text message alert from one of my best friends.
Any chance you want to do a ladies’ night out tonight?
She’s a high school teacher, of course. Who else is up and making plans at dawn?
YESSSSS I replied before I’d even had coffee. Friday night was looking up.
We met for drinks about 12 hours later and I immediately began using my chardonnay to wash down all of the bar snacks.
She demurred when I urged her to join me.
“I had pizza this afternoon,” she said. “Not hungry.”
Ah, the pizza story. I want to share that with you. Not because it’s an earth-shattering tale. Precisely because it’s not.
My friend is a Virginia Beach high school teacher. For the past two school years she’s taught a tall, quiet teenaged boy who struggled with success in her class. A good kid.
Last winter she overheard him telling another student that he passed a church on his way to school that gave out free food. He said he stopped there every morning for breakfast.
She took note. And worried a little.
My friend told me that for privacy reasons teachers aren’t given many details about their students’ personal lives. Yet they sometimes see signs that a child’s family may be having financial struggles. Learning that this boy was eating at a church told her this might be a hungry kid.
Like many teachers, my friend keeps snacks in her desk. Crackers and granola bars mostly. After hearing about his church breakfasts, my pal frequently offered the kid food from her stash. He never said no.
Late last week she got a notice from the administration that the teen was moving. Friday would be his last day.
She pulled the boy aside, told him how sorry she was to see him go and asked if he minded if she shared the news with the rest of the class. He seemed surprised, but didn’t object.
The kid seemed pleased by the chorus of “Oh, no!” and “We’re going to miss you” from his classmates.
That’s when his teacher made a spur-of-the-moment decision:
“In honor of so and so (she didn’t tell me his name) we’re going to have a pizza party tomorrow and he gets to pick the toppings,” she announced.
Which is how, on Friday afternoon, my friend came to be sharing pepperoni pizza - her treat, of course - with a class of high school kids and a boy who seemed genuinely touched on his last day.
I’m telling you this because we all need reminders now and then that as affluent as much of Virginia Beach is, there are children in this city who don’t get enough to eat. There are students who try hard but success doesn’t come easy. There are good kids who are quiet and well-behaved and don’t get the attention that the discipline problems attract.
We also need reminders that many teachers are extraordinary. They are tuned into their kids. They pay attention to the students who could easily escape notice.
They know that a child moving away might be feeling insecure and lost..
What better way to boost a boy’s confidence than to let him know he was an important member of his class with a privately funded pizza party?
“You’re a softie,” I chided.
“The kids would tell you I’m not,” she protested. “I’m a tough grader. I make them toe the line.”
“You’re a softie,” I insisted as we sipped our Friday night wine.
She really is.