Make the Tuna Melt at Midnight.
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
It was a Tuesday night in April, and my son Jonathan, 15 at the time, asked me to make him a tuna melt.
Normally this is no big deal but this time, it was midnight on a Sunday. I was coming off a busy weekend and I was exhausted.
I was slumped over my laptop, trying to get through emails, literally reading with one eye open and feeling the sleep creeping into my body when Jonathan came out of his room and asked me to make him a tuna melt.
“I’m soooo hungry, and you make tuna melts better than me. Pleeeeease?”
He wasn’t even whining. A night owl, he was in a jolly mood. Simply asking.
I admit, my first reply was, “Jonathan. I’m so tired. I was just heading up to bed.”
But that wasn’t entirely true. I was obviously willing to stay up longer to get through my emails, so why not stay up longer to make a tuna melt for a boy who can never get full?
I weighed my options for a few seconds.
I could play the parenting card, and toss out the usual arbitrary excuses like….
It’s midnight – the kitchen is closed.
You ate a huge dinner – you cannot be hungry.
I’m too tired.
You’re 15 and more than capable of making it yourself.
You shouldn’t be up at this hour.
Eat something easy instead, like a banana.
I don’t want to dirty any dishes at this hour.
But I didn’t say those things.
The initial “I’m so tired” comment did escape before I caught myself and realized that I could either turn this late night moment into a disappointment-filled end to a busy weekend, or I could make the damn tuna melt for my son.
Why? Because it’s the sweet thing to do.
Because there’s a whole lot more in that tuna melt moment than most people ever see.
Many would see that moment as an opportunity to teach their child to be self-sufficient. I saw it as an opportunity to be sweet and deepen the relationship.
Would it be the end of the world if I’d said no? Of course not.
But we have tuna melt moments all day, every day, and when those seemingly small moments are repeatedly handled with negativity, it begins to add up. Pretty soon we wonder why we have a quietly strained relationship with our child.
It’s ok to be the parent your child needs you to be. Who cares if someone else thinks I’m spoiling my teenager by making him a tuna melt at midnight? I wasn’t. I simply chose - in that moment - a simple kindness.
People like to think that if we indulge every whim and need our kids have, they’ll become spoiled and demanding. I indulged Jonathan’s hunger and desire to be fed a tuna melt at midnight and I got gratitude. A smile. A “thanks, Mom!” and a content child.
And a sweet end to my night.
Make the damn tuna melt at midnight!
This essay is part of a speech I originally gave in 2012 at Wide Sky Days, an unschooling conference in San Diego, CA. You can find the full transcript HERE.
We unschooled our kids all the way through high school. Go HERE to learn more about unschooling!
I am available to speak to your group about unschooling. Get in touch!