So lately, Maura and I have been grabbing lunch at Chipotle after summer school lets out – by that point of the day, we’re both really hungry.
It’s funny to think of how much Maura loves Chipotle. We get burrito bowls. She’ll eat the whole thing. She’s a dainty princess like that. But really, she’s in a body of a 12 year old about to grow some more girl. Wanting to eat everything? That’s normal.
Now, since everyone else in the area also loves Chipotle for lunch, we encounter a huge line. I spend our time in line giggling with her, reminding her not to bump into people, explaining “personal space”, reminding her to not cut ahead when the opportunity arises. Okay, that sounds like she’s a sugared up monkey in line – she’s not. She’s actually quite calm, and the reminders are just that – reminders. One day, I started thinking about how much life skills are involved in waiting in line. Patience, respect for others, turn taking – and she does so well every time.
I do think her favorite part is selecting what she wants. Which is the same thing every time. She does not want chicken. She does want lettuce. She definitely wants the mild salsa. We bypass the guac for her (hey, it costs extra!) And the staff is there being wonderfully patient with her, pointing to different options, checking with her what she wants before they glance at me for clarification. They don’t rush us along even though there’s twenty people behind us in line.
I could order it all for her, but I won’t. I let her have this chance to make choices. In a way, Chipotle has become a safe, friendly environment in which to learn how to make choices and wait in line and other basic but very necessary life skills. When she gets over-exuberant and yells “HI!” at all the staff with a big smile, they return the smile and the “hi!”.
There was one point, the second time we were doing this, as Maura got confused between lettuce and guac that I had a moment of “Oh God, we’re holding up the line!” – but that thought immediately turned to “Chill. It’s not that big of a deal, we’re not taking up that much of their time, and patience is something everyone can learn.” Because really, Maura learning this skill set benefits everyone. And I’ve seen people be much bigger line hold ups there as well. It’s a lesson set for Maura, but it’s also a teaching moment for me – that it’s okay to let Maura do things at her pace in public. To chill out about what others might be thinking. To not be so hypersensitive myself.
Life lessons can happen anywhere, sometimes with a side of guac (which costs extra but is totally worth it!)