Posted by Morgan Benzian
Emma just started a "sumer school" program, and she is really loving it. It's not really school - it's more of a fun, daycare-like learning environment. As the parent of a full-time preschooler, one of the things I am required to do is send her to school with lunch every day.
When I first learned this, I was really excited about the idea of sending my little tike off to school with a lunch box in tow. I imagined her running off, with a big back pack on, and her cute little lunch box in her hand. I never once considered the actual lunch assembly, and I have since learned the torture that is known as "Packing the School Lunch."
I never thought I would have to overcome so many obstacles to make this feat possible. First, I happen to do my grocery shopping on Fridays, so by the time we get through the weekend, the entire contents of my refrigerator consist of ketchup, leftover rice, and some sorry looking lettuce. I think it goes without saying that it's pretty hard to come up with a healthy, toddler-friendly, portable lunch based on these contents.
This means that I end up sending her to school with crackers, raisins, any MAYBE a piece of cheese (if she's lucky). I wouldn't be surprised if CPS knocks on my door, having being alerted by Emma's teachers, for malnourishing my child. I would totally add a little cup of peanut butter (one of the few sources of protein she will eat) to the mix, but she's not allowed to bring it to school.
I did pack it for her once, and then the next day the director sent out a mass email politely asking parents to please refrain from sending their children to school with peanut products. To paraphrase, it said something like, "Hey- we told you not to send her here with that stuff. Get with the program." I wonder who that was aimed at?
To be fair, they were totally nice and gracious about it.
So you can imagine my delight when I got an email from one of the parenting websites I subscribe to that said, "Go to our site for 20 too cute to eat bento lunch boxes that'll make food fun and lunchtime the highlight of your children's day."
Yes! Fun lunches that fit into perfectly compartmentalized boxes? That is right up my alley! I immediately went to thewebsite and look at what popped up:
No way. First of all, is that even food? Second, forget about eating that tiger. The tiger looks like it's going to eat me. Scary. Third, is this some kind of joke? So I clicked on the next photo. And...
OMG. They really are serious. Maybe I'm just a rookie without a clue. Emma just started school, and we are totally new to this whole lunch thing. But if this is really something that moms do, then I am going to get a big fat "F" in the "Packing School Lunch" portion of Motherhood. I have to show you just one more because it was too good to pass up:
I'm not even sure exactly what that is (a hedgehog?), but I don't know a toddler on the face of the earth that would eat that. I don't think I would even go for it.
The photos went on and on. There were 20 to be exact, each one more ridiculous than the next. There were enough options to make a different design for each school day of the month.
Who has time for this? I could probably pull it off if I hired a sushi chef to come to my house every morning to prepare Emma's lunch. I mean, I guess it's possible.
I do like where they are coming from though. Once, I used a cookie cutter to turn Emma's PB&J into a butterfly and she totally went for it. She will also consume much more if I give her a frilly toothpick to eat with (just like Fancy Nancy).
While I don't plan on investing more than say, 5 minutes on packing her lunch, this bit of nonsense did get my wheels turning. So, I'm thinking next week's lunch might look something like this:
It's a start.
Tell me moms: What do you do to make school lunches more exciting? I need help!
3 back to toddler
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