Friday, September 16, 2011

Packing up a Lunch

One of the great things about Kiddo's preschool is that we parents can pack a good, healthy lunch for our children to take to school. Stuff we know that they relatively like and will usually eat. Personally, I prefer this to having some kind of Lowest Common Denominator high-carb lunch that some daycares and preschools serve, and I also like knowing what it is he's eating (and needs to eat later) in order to ensure he's getting a balanced menu.

Kiddo's pretty sharp at making some good food choices, so I ask for his input. Sometimes, though, he has a lot of opinions about lunch. Like this morning.

Me: "Tell me one thing you would like for your lunch, within reason." ('Within reason' is mama-code for "not ice cream, not cookies, not yogurt"; I like this code phrase, as it eliminates bringing up those items.)

Kiddo: "Carrots!"

Me: "Awesome. We can do that."

Kiddo: "I want carrots and apples."

Isn't this great? We are in Dream Child mode right now. And then I go and fumble it. Pulling down the fruit bowl, I see a nectarine which is so wrinkled it should be collecting Social Security benefits.

Me: "Would you like a nectarine instead?"

Kiddo looks at Ol' Man Nectarine and makes a squinchy face. "NO." I, on the other hand, really feel like this nectarine should go away, so I offer it again. "You could take it cut up with a fork."

"NO."

Okay, enough on the nectarine. I set it on the counter, thinking "Future Smoothie Ingredient", and get to work, peeling a perfectly-sized carrot (not too thick, not too spindly) and slicing up half an apple. I put cinnamon on the apple slices and place them into a container. Kiddo pushes his breakfast of scrambled eggs around on his plate, watching me, then inevitably announces~

"I want nectarine, not apple."

In my head, four words ring out: "Oh, no, you don't!"  My mouth, however, doesn't betray me or get into the fray, but changes the subject entirely. "No more talking, now. Be quiet and eat your food." I say this with a pleasant voice which hopefully conveys the underlying message of "I am not going there with you. This will not become a discussion. Your job is to eat your breakfast, so let's tend to that now."

I continue packing. Often, Kiddo complains that he doesn't want a sandwich, so today it's three Vinta crackers in a waxed paper bag with a handful of almonds tossed in, and a string cheese too for a good protein. The carrot is rolled up in Saran Wrap, the apples in their reusable container. I realize that I have used every possible method of wrapping food, aside from foil, in his lunch. Two napkins on top (one for a place mat, one for his lap, hopefully) and the Velcro flap is closed up.

Kiddo is looking out the window, both lunch and breakfast temporarily forgotten. What's going on, so interesting out there? Joe walks in, sees Kiddo, and breaks into a couple lines of Supertramp's "Dreamer". I laugh, then remind our little guy to eat the eggs before they grow cold. Joe kisses us goodbye; he's buying his lunch at the Food Carts today, as he's meeting a friend.

Me? I'm having a sandwich and some miso soup for lunch today. Cool and cloudy, it seems like that sort of a day. I'm grateful I only have to pack lunches three days a week, for one person only. I can't imagine doing this with multiple children: my hat is off to those mothers. I think I'd be looking for a different preschool program if that were the case. One that served those Lowest Common Denominator lunches.....

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