As I scooped up lunchboxes and headed to the door this morning my nine year old asked “what is in my lunch?” Visions of Bread and Jam for Frances came to mind as I rattled off the midday menu: “chicken noodle soup, kosher dill pickle, sliced cucumbers, mini carrots, a petite container of salad dressing and two Clementine’s, all neatly packed in the requisite reusable containers, with two cloth napkins, one for wiping and one for your table laying on table.”
Lunch box duty at our house is handled (and yes mostly hated) by me. To get ahead of the morning rush every night I pack three, sometimes four (when dear husband is doing his part to balance the budget) lunches. Add the environmentally conscious lunch packing rules of two of the three schools my kids attend and my teenager’s tendency to eat junk and I rest my case.
Yes, I know. Our children should be packing their own lunches by now. This would teach them responsibility and take a task off my to-do list. Our youngest, the best eater in the bunch, could probably handle this no problem. As the poster child for food prep and kitchen responsibility she is a budding steward in a nine year old body.
But I definitely cannot trust the oldest with this task. She would rather throw in an apple (maybe) and two granola bars, or better yet order the dessert at school and call it a day.
Our middle daughter falls somewhere in between the two. A foodie to the core, she knows what is healthy and does care, but her teenage brain is whispering sweet nothings to her and I bet dimes to donuts it isn’t cooing “veggies, fruit and protein.”
Besides, my doctor agrees with my lack of delegation of the daily lunch box duty. Two years ago I sought her advice regarding the constant stomach aches of my then fifteen-year-old daughter (whose diet was devoid of all vegetables and most fruit and healthy protein). Being the wise mom and grandmother she is, she said “maybe she still needs mom to handle this for her?”
“Hmm, she might have a point," I thought.
Since then I have been flinging all myriad of fruits, vegetables, and leaner protein into toxic-free-thermal lunch containers each and every night. I still hate it, but sometimes a mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do. Too soon my oldest will be heading off to college - the land of sugar-laden, nutritiously-empty snack food and she will have to weather her tummy aches without her fiber-serving mother.
It will be a bittersweet reduction in my nightly duty for sure.