Finding My School Lunch Rhythm
Two weeks into school and the morning lunchtime routine already has me down. I tire of packing small containers with even smaller items of dried fruit, crackers and bits of vegetables. The lunchroom envy, the daily discussions about what type of fruit or flavor of applesauce is the proper one to pack when accompanying tomato soup leftovers or chicken salad sandwiches makes me groan.
My daughter has been rejecting certain foods that she would normally eat at home, and my mother heart just can't handle her protests amidst the daily reminders to brush hair, use the bathroom and "no, your toothbrush is not optional this morning," and "yes, you really must wear a coat or sweater and not a tank top when it is 50 degrees out."
With each child that enters school I go through a learning process where I find out what works for them in their lunch: quantities, types of food, snacks they prefer. It takes weeks, sometimes a whole half a semester to get the rhythm down, make adjustments and try again. I am, well, exhausted.
By the time the trio boards the bus, my 3-year-old waving goodbye through tears at the door, it's all I can do to keep myself together to clean up after breakfast and try to make progress on the day's work to-do list.
As they come bounding off the bus, I open their lunchboxes to see what worked and what didn't. I see them develop into food eaters, enjoying and appreciating nuances in their food, disliking others, knowing good quality from poor. These are things I wanted to instill in them, to teach them as their mother, and obviously, knowing where the food is coming from is one for the “I love packing lunches” side.
How do you feel about school lunches? Are you the lunch-sack-loving mom who cuts cute shapes for the bento, or do you just toss it together and say it’s good enough?
I'm learning, little by little, how to fall into this new morning routine. Gone are the lazy summer mornings. A chill is in the air, reminding me that I need to find my mojo before the winter comes and there are hats, mittens, boots and snowpants times three to add every morning.