I lean over the kitchen counter, serving warm butterscotch-oatmeal cookies (healthy ones) to a crowd of students. The cookies disappear as soon as they hit the cooling rack—despite my warnings that they’re still too hot to eat.
It’s Friday night, and my husband and I have decided to experiment with inviting all of the *students over—only we didn’t realize that forty of them hadn’t checked out for the weekend. I start another batch of cookies and field questions from curious kids.
“Hey, Mrs. Ojeda,” one calls out, “did you make these cookies yourself? What did you put in them?”
“Of course she made them, dude,” someone else answers for me, “she just took them out of the oven.”
“But did you mix all the stuff up and actually make them?”
I turn to the wheat grinder and pull out the drawer and begin to measure flour into the mixing bowl. I smile and motion for the doubting Thomas to come closer and take a look at the process. I hear a crash and giggle from the living room, but I shrug and keep on dumping ingredients into the mixing bowl. Pedro has it covered, I think.
I like this kind of crowd, one I can disappear into by silently serving and observing. I pull another gallon of milk out of the fridge and find more clean glasses in the cupboard. I glimpse through the windows into my students’ lives as they socialize and chatter and interact.
It’s been a long week, and if you had asked me earlier in the day if I felt like entertaining forty kids between the ages of eight and 18, I probably would have said, “Absolutely not!”
But God knows me better than I know myself. In choosing to serve cookies to kids who need to relax, I get to know them in ways I never see in the classroom. I find out who has never had a birthday party before; who has never eaten a homemade cookie before, who hates chocolate (I didn’t realize that this was possible!), and who doesn’t want to go home next home leave.
After we’ve cleaned the messes up and the students have returned to their dorms, I sink gratefully into bed and turn to Pedro, “Next time, let’s not invite ALL the students!”
*My husband and I work at a Christian 1-12th grade boarding school for Native Americans.