When I was a kid I invited friends over to lunch, or I was invited to "eat over" at a friend's house, frequently. Since this was in the eighties, my mom wouldn't know until I showed up with a friend in tow, or until I phoned from that friend's house. My kids don't have this kind of experience: for one thing, I pick them up for their 55 minute lunch hour, and for another, there are very, very few other children who go home for lunch.
But the other day my friend - whose daughters do come home for lunch - was running a tight schedule, and it was pouring rain, and so I picked up her girls and took them home for lunch. It was a festive occasion, so I broke the kids' sandwich-and-bagel rut and made pancakes. It was, for everyone, so much fun. The novelty of having friends over for lunch, not to mention having chocolate chip pancakes, was great. Add to that an episode of Phineas and Ferb and being able to eat lunch while watching meant through-the-roof excitement.
It's funny, after-school play and lunch dates seem to be largely a thing of the past. Our school day goes until 3:40, most kids have activities or schedules that don't allow for playtime after this. It's fine, but until we have friends over I forget how much fun the kids all have. Well, there are only three and a half weeks left of school - after that the whole summer is free for unscheduled playtime, and who knows? Maybe even a few lunch dates too.