A life lesson from an emu burger

A local middle school counselor referred a student, John*, and his family to our office for counseling education. John’s father is deceased, so it’s just him and his mom in the household. One day John asked if I would come to his school and have lunch with him. John’s mother was supportive of his invitation.


I checked with the school counselor upon arriving at the school and was escorted to the lunchroom serving line with John and his classmates. John directed me to a table where his friends were seated, and he introduced me as his mentor.


As I took my first bite of my hamburger, it immediately reminded me of my middle school days – it tasted the same, back then and now. I noticed that John’s friends were not eating their burgers. When they saw me taking my second bite, they said, “Ugh! Nasty! How can you eat that?”


To be honest, I was thinking the same thing, but I wanted to be a positive role model for the children by eating lunch.


I responded, “This is really good; it’s the best emu burger that I have ever eaten.”


John’s friends said, “What’s an emu burger?”


I explained that an emu was a large bird similar to an ostrich that lives in Australia, down under.


They responded, “Australia, huh? Cool.”


I then noticed all the kids wolfing their burgers down. My thought was, “Well, I was able to get the kids to eat their lunch, that’s good.”


John seemed very pleased that I came to have lunch with him and his friends. The next day I received a call from the middle school counselor.


She asked if I had a good lunch with John, and then she said, “What did you tell John and his friends during lunch? I had several parents who have called the office inquiring why their children were being fed emu burgers at school. After I explained, the counselor replied, “Good job; you were able to get some of those children to eat their lunch!”


The power of suggestion and the comments we make to children do have an impact on them. By the way, genuine emu burgers are delicious.


-Mike LaChapelle
Supervisor, Northwest District Office of UMCH


*Name changed to protect client’s privacy.