Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let's do lunch

Every day of daycare, preschool and kindergarten I dutifully packed Big Dog's lunch.  An entree, a veggie and a piece of fruit.  Occasionally a treat of some sort, but usually just a well-balanced, kid-friendly and tasty meal.  And I did it every day (technically Mr. Dog also packed lunch for him from time to time as well).  Well, every day save one.  The last day of school, Big Dog bought hot lunch.  He liked it.  No, to be honest, he loved it.  And I didn't mind not having to pack his lunch that morning.
Over the summer Big Dog joined Little Dog at his school for the school-aged kid summer program.  At Little Dog's school they have a chef on staff.  All of the lunches are prepared on site, nutritionally balanced and apparently widely loved by children of all ages.  And I was free of the morning routine of packing a well balanced, kid friendly and tasty meal every single day.  I kind of enjoyed the freedom.
The first week of school I had a business trip to Europe.  After the first day of school, I hopped on a flight to Amsterdam and we agreed for the sanity of all involved, Big Dog would buy lunch until I got back.  This kept one task off Mr. Dog's morning to do list and Big Dog was happy enough to buy lunch based on his experience from the previous school year. It was a good solution.
Let me take a moment to explain how out of character this is for me.  I am a bit neurotic when it comes to feeding my kids.  I obsessively read labels.  Whole grains are a priority. Certain ingredients are banned outright in our house.  If the kids get a sweet treat, it will be baked from scratch with organic ingredients.  I got excited about having chickens because I thought it would be fantastic to know what went into our eggs, and was giddy over how fresh they'd be. Fresh, local and organic are a big deal to me.  So imagine how school lunch fails to meet those criteria.  Now to be fair, the Seattle Pubic Schools have a better approach to school lunch than many other districts.  They have no deep fryers. They try to serve internationally influenced cuisine. They offer local dairy.  Yogurt and chocolate milk do not contain high fructose corn syrup. Breads and breading are always whole grain.  Fresh fruit is always available and fresh veggies are locally sourced whenever possible.  But it isn't like I made it or even had the opportunity to inspect the package to make sure it passed my quality criteria.  It's amazing I haven't had some sort of breakdown over this.
Anyhow I got back from Europe and I was too tired to pack lunches.  Another week passed and I was too busy to pack lunches and since Big Dog was happy to buy lunch it was easy enough.  The idea of getting one more task shoehorned into my morning seemed unduly stressful since the mornings were already kicking my ass and I had grown lazy and disorganized after having the summer off.  Really, it's all lame excuses, but the path of least resistance can be mighty enticing for an exhausted parent.  At this point we're over a month in and I hadn't packed lunch once.
So this past week I've been taking time off to clean the house and get ready for Big Dog's impending tonsil surgery.  We have an issue with accumulating crap in this house and I had some time off I could take so I did it.  The house is looking amazing by the way, thanks for asking.  But that's not my point.  The other morning, since I wasn't in a rush to shower, dress and head off to school, I decided to pack Big Dog's lunch.  I heated the thermos containers with boiling water before filling one with gnocchi in cheese sauce and the other with peas.  I peeled and sliced the organic kiwi and packed it into a kiwi sized reusable container and because I was packing lunch for the first time this year, I included a mini chocolate bar as a special treat.  I held back from including a note like I did most of last year because I didn't know if that was still cool or if it would embarrass my big 1st grader.  After putting all of this into this Spider Man lunchbox, I put the lunchbox into his Spider Man backpack under his jacket.
After school I asked Bid Dog how he liked his lunch. 
"Fine," he said.
"Did you get the treat I put in there for you?"
"No, you forgot," he said.
"What do you mean?  I put a little chocolate bar in your lunch.  Didn't you see it?"
"There wasn't a lunch in my backpack.  I looked, but you forgot so I bought lunch."
Well tonight I pulled an uneaten lunch out of his backpack.  Apparently putting it under the jacket was confusing.  Or maybe he just really wanted to buy lunch.  Either way it was a total miss.
"Would you rather just buy lunch every day?" I asked, not sure I wanted my lunches to be rejected, but also not wanting to pack more lunches that will simply be "misplaced."
"Yeah, I like school lunch, mom.  I really do."
And I guess I'm going to be ok with that.


Katherine said...

I can be a bit controlling when it comes to food myself. The way I see it (rationalize her daycare mealtimes) a little diversity is good for the diet. As long as she still gets the good stuff for breakfast and dinner and on weekends they she's ahead of the game. Yay for school lunches!

Sophia Chang said...

omg can you please be my mom? I love home-packed/cooked food.

The only thing is I need to eat 6 times a day...but I'll never forget your lunch under my jacket!

followthatdog said...

When I picked him up from school today I asked what he had for lunch. He asked "Did you send me one?" I told him I expected that he'd buy lunch, which he did, but he told me just to be sure he made sure to look everywhere in his backpack before he bought school lunch. He was so sweet and earnest about it. I love this little guy so much.

Ara said...

If it's me, I'll choose home-packed/cooked food rather buy at school because in my school, I have to stand in a long line and wait for one hour just to buy a snack in the cafeteria. Imagine how bored I was? hmmm...Oh yeah, I'm planning to prepare one for myself. And I found a very amazing stainless steel tiffin container. I am really into it and it's a good thing that it is eco-friendly and very safe to use unlike plastic food containers. Well just thought you might love it as well. Thanks for sharing your experiences by the way. =)

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