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?

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