Friday, May 27, 2005

What's for lunch, kids?

Do you know something else I really miss? I miss packing my children's lunches every morning.

I don't mean during those years when we had so little money that some mornings I scrounged and improvised and they carried lunches to school that were disgraceful and totally devoid of nutrition. (Ask Belle about the chocolate chips. . . . .) For many of their elementary years we qualified for free lunch, but I could not bring myself to apply. As long as we could manage at all, I felt better NOT asking for that kind of help. I was teaching in their school, and if I had seen their names on that list I don't think I could have stood it. . . .

I don't mean the years when I stood in line to get free cheese and butter and powdered milk, either. Those were not good years, even though the cheese and butter were better quality than you can buy in the store.

I mean, when things were better and I got to pack a Twinkie and a pickle and a little bag of chips and peanut-butter-crackers and carrot sticks and fruit rollups and apples and pudding. And a little can of tuna for Zappa, and once in a while a tiny pizza, baked during breakfast and wrapped in foil to keep it warm. That worked, by the way.

Neither of my kids ate sandwiches. They still don't.

I didn't pack all those things at once, of course. But it was wonderful to have them to choose from, each morning.

I loved going lunch-box shopping at the beginning of the school year. The right lunch box is important, you know. I miss that. I even miss buying those packages of lunch sacks, for the few years they still carried a lunch but were too cool to carry a Masters of the Universe or Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox.

It's funny that I find myself missing this little activity that was once a regular every-morning thing. Because, at the time, it was just one more thing that made our hectic mornings even more hectic. Everybody needed me when I was busy packing lunches.

But sometimes, when I remember putting things in baggies, and writing their names on the outside of a brown paper lunch bag, and cutting up carrots and apples, etc, I can almost see the backs of my children, walking away from me, carrying their lunch which I made, and which they would sit and eat in a few hours. I can almost see them reading the little notes I used to stick in there, and rolling their eyes, and diving into the Twinkies. I can see them flattening out the paper towel and making a little pile of grapes and eating them. And then I can picture them running out onto the playground, and energetically running and playing and climbing, never thinking about it but secure in the knowledge that when they got home, there would be another meal ready for them (eventually; hey, I was tired when I got home!) and another bag lunch to bring to school the next day, and the next, and the next. And so it goes, until they are too old to want Mommy to do that any more, and could they just have the money please?

And then, for the first time, you realize that you don't know what they're having for lunch any more, and you have to trust the cafeteria ladies to prepare something good, and you have to trust that your child is eating it instead of hanging out at the a la carte counter buying chocolate shakes and Cheetos. And you know they're eating shakes and Cheetos.

What is the point of this post? I forgot.

But I remember buying pudding and fruit rollups. And Star Wars lunchboxes, and drink-boxes.

And a little kid carrying a lunchbox is one of the cutest things ever.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:34 PM | |


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