Only seven more days of school and the kids are beside themselves with
anticipation. As for me, I couldn’t be more excited either – not because I’m desperate
to have my little loveys with me 24/7 or anything crazy like that – but because
the end of the school year means I get an 82-day respite from making my kids
a nutritious, delicious, carefully-planned and never boring bag lunch that they
rarely finish and sometimes don’t even start. I can’t WAIT!! Nearly three months
of unbound freedom from the unrelenting burden of asking for lunch suggestions;
shopping for the always healthful and hopefully tasty provisions, actually making
the lunch in a foggy haze at 7am on my first dose of caffeine; checking the lunch bag
at 3:20 to see if the food was actually eaten or if my kid is cranky just for fun, and
then either wolfing down the uneaten grub myself because I’m starving and irritable
or furiously throwing it down the disposal while yelling something about “the poor
starving children . . .” while my kids ignore me.
Why? Why does this happen? When I was a kid, I ate my lunch. Yes, there were days
when my fanciful gourmet of a hunter-gatherer mother would pack me a pheasant
and endive sandwich on 23-seed German bread and I would gaze longingly at my
neighbor’s bologna on white bread. Yes, there were times when I traded carob-
covered raisins for a Ho-Ho (oh how, I coveted Hostess products) or cringed with
discomfort at the odor emanating from my octopus salad or lobster roll. But I ate it,
goshdarned it, and I think I’m a better person for it. So there.
As far as I’m concerned, dear readers, life is largely all about the food and so we will
be discussing it at length during our time together. I know that millions of pages
have been written about children and food and that I’m not the only one suffering
from the aggravation of dealing with the hassle of uneaten lunches, so please
indulge me as I gripe some more. And then, please, I beg you – give me any advice
you can possibly spare.
Back to the griping. So, Love & Logic (remember L&L from last week?) would dictate
that if the children don’t eat their lunch, then they should suffer the consequences
and be hungry. Makes sense, right? Naturally. Unless, of course, yours is the kind
of child that turns into Satan and drags you down into the burning embers of hell
with them when their blood sugar begins to drop. This is what happens with us. The
second that my hungry kids open the minivan door, things become very dramatic
and dire: tears flow, anger is unleashed and mama starts to panic. It’s not pretty,
but in that moment, I find that I will do ANYthing to get calories into these hellions –
cheeseburger at Frank’s; huckleberry smoothie from the Mud Hut; IV drip courtesy
of Bozeman Deaconess. It’s appalling.
Some would say I should try harder with the bag lunches. OK. Over the years, I
have tried sandwiches, wraps, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, soups, burritos,
potstickers, quesadillas, pasta and, yes, sushi . . . the list goes on and on. With
experience, I’ve learned to “mix it up,” as my kids would say. Because once I finally
find a winner, I am tempted to pack it ad nauseum, until it becomes a loser. This
happened with the potstickers, which also happen to smell like dog farts. So --
needless to say -- by the end of the year, after eight months of lunches, I am spent.
Done. Desperate enough to head straight for the Chocolate Moose after school
without even asking, and happy to spend what should probably be deposited into
some kind of college fund on an overpriced milkshake.
Next August I’ll be back in the grocery aisles with the kids optimistically shopping
for lunches having forgotten (just like the 38 combined hours of labor I endured
giving birth to these puppies) this tedious ordeal. Now, fellow parents, promise me
this: If you see me, just point me toward the 23-seed German bread and the carob-
covered raisins, OK?