Once I got the children engaged in a project I sat across from her and asked 'what's on your mind?'
She then began to go on at length about what the boys were eating for breakfast and how she tries to follow a paleo diet and she could leave me a grocery list so the boys could be sent off to school with whole grain waffles adorned with pears and blue berries. I smiled politely, but I was cringing inside. You see, we're just not that family.
She also made some organizational suggestions, particularly with morning and afternoon routines. Some of these were interesting and will likely be time saving. I thanked her.
She then said that..and this is with a big build up...that she could not any longer, in good conscience give my boys cow milk. She offered three solid minutes of explanations and two solid minutes of alternatives. I looked at her, suppressed my irritation and said, "do they ask for milk" and she said, 'yes, but only because it is all they know'. She then went on at length about how she would at her own expense bring in soy or almond milk and let them try it. I'm looking across the table at this girl and this really means something to her, so I suggested that she take some of the house money and buy a half gallon of what she thought best.
I smile and ask if there is anything else on her mind. She says, 'there is, but I just can't bring myself to bring it up'. I suggested that she could. The kids were stirring and coming to us for evening snacks. She tells me, 'The timing is all wrong. I'm sorry.' Then she gets tears in her eyes. I ask her if she is okay and she says, 'I'm sorry, yes, no everything is fine.' I have one child climbing up my leg and I say as nicely as I can, 'we'll talk more tomorrow, okay?' She nods, gathers her things, says good bye to the kids and leaves.
What was that? She's been here three weeks. It was the oddest conversation I've ever had, certainly the oddest I've ever had at my own kitchen table. I was a little perturbed, but I was very kind to her and I believe I always have been. She seems to like the children and they like her. I'm sitting here thinking I've hurt her feelings. And hoping I can remedy that in the morning, if that was the case. What else could it be?