You trudge through each day. You repeat yourself and are redundant and say it again. Then one day.... Payoff.
Today was such a day for me.
Emma and I attended graduation for a special friend of ours. Jeannie graduated from the program at Jessie Baker School and will now go on to the adult program... continuing to build her life skills that started at Jessie Baker 16 years ago.
To thank their church family for all the love and support shown Jeannie through the years, Jeannie's parents took us out to lunch to a new restaurant in town, The Boulevard Bistro. It's a bit spendy for dinner and we just hadn't had the proper occasion to dine there yet. I asked those who had been there before if they thought the menu would be Emma-friendly. I was told they DID have a hamburger on the menu. Ok... we'll be fine.
But I talked to Emma first. After an initial thought that she'd rather just go home, some thinking about it, some more discussion... she decided that she did want to go. I explained that this was a NICE restaurant and the food might be rather fancy. Even a hamburger might be too fru-fru. I reminded her that this would be a place for her grown up manners and that if her food came and it was not to her liking, that she was not to make any sort of fuss... we could stop and get something on our way home...no worries. She agreed and we went.
We sat down at our white tablecloth covered table. After a moment of confusion as to where EXACTLY she was supposed to sit because "there's too much silverware, I can't tell." she promptly put her napkin in her lap. She considered the soup and salad selection. I asked that the soup was for the day.... and upon hearing "shrimp bisque" she said she would like a hamburger. The official name was "Cheddar Burger". She asked me if it would be ok if she just said "cheeseburger". I assured her that would be fine. She ordered using her grown up voice and was further confused when asked how she would like that cooked. I knew she was thinking "on a grill?". I just said "medium" for her and she was relieved to have that done.
We were sitting with two ladies from church. Both of whom Emma knows and who know Emma. Emma had a nice conversation with Patsy while I spoke with Eleanor. When bread arrived I gave her a piece. I had already explained what that funny looking knife was for and she promptly used her butter knife to butter her bread. After everyone had a 'round' of the bread, she asked if she could please have another slice. When given the go ahead, she took one slice and used the proper utensil again.
She didn't squirm. She spoke when spoken to. She didn't interrupt. She didn't use a loud voice. She didn't have to take a bathroom tour. She said please and thank you. She didn't slurp or spill her water.
When her cheeseburger arrived, she carefully spread ketchup on the bun and didn't make a mess. She ate her fries and burger with her hands (as is appropriate) and made liberal use of her napkin. She ate her entire lunch and did not ask if she could get dessert. As we were leaving, she thanked our hosts.
She was, simply, a delightful luncheon companion. And I was sure to tell her so. I was sure to tell her dad the same when we got home, within her earshot.
She was the only child there today. Jeannie's brother was the next youngest and he's 19? 20? Her behavior was far beyond her 10 years. She was as grownup as anyone else there today.
The bonus? "I had FUN too!" she told me when we got in the car.
Payoff. For both of us.