I tucked a ten dollar bill into M's wallet. It's the velcro kind, red and blue with an airplane on the front. I bought it for him years ago hoping that someday he might have a need for it.
Once per month, M and the other children in his special education class have a "community outing." Sometimes they go to the grocery store with a shopping list and pick up supplies for a cooking project, other times they might visit a local eatery for lunch. On these days I make sure to tuck his wallet into the zippered pouch of his backpack.
Today M and his classmates would be going to a diner. The purpose behind outings such as these was to learn the life stills they would need outside the classroom. The students will learn how to behave in the public restaurant setting, how to order off the menu, how to pay a bill.
I readied M for his outing. I always make sure M looks nice, but I take extra care on his community outing days. I dressed M in his dark wash jeans, his new grey striped shirt and put on his dressier brown shoes over his usual gym shoes. I gave him a spritz of his cologne and made sure his hair was brushed and gelled just the way he likes it.
I already know what he will order: a cheeseburger and fries, both smothered in ketchup. And to drink, lemonade. Possibly a milkshake.
Miss J came into the kitchen to grab her lunchbox before heading out the door to catch her bus. She noticed just one lunch box was packed and ready on the counter and asked, "Is he going out to lunch AGAIN?" She peered at the contents of her lunchbox and grimaced at her peanut butter sandwich and sighed heavily. "It is SO unfair." She said a heavy goodbye and trudged out the door.
As the door closed behind her, I responded to the empty room.
Yes, my girl, you are right. It certainly is unfair.
Unfair that only one of my children will spend a day in school, their mind challenged with information that will prepare her for college and life beyond.
Unfair that the other is being taught a life skill of how to order a cheeseburger and count change.