Friday, January 14, 2011

298. Competitive Lunching

So I’m packing Short’s lunch and it dawns on me that I am not really packing it for him. Oh, sure, I want him to have a nutritious meal with apple and carrots and organic turkey and cheddar cheese and wheat bread…. but even more, I want to impress his teacher with what a Great Lunch Packer I am.

Initially, I took the easy way out and dutifully paid my $2.65 per day for a cafeteria meal. One nice day (well, it had been nice up until that point), I received a desperate phone call from Short’s teacher explaining that Short did not like the school lunches and was doing his own preschool version of a Hunger Strike.

Sigh. Drama School try-outs didn’t even start until third grade in Crazy Town.

I took what the teacher said to heart, and I started waking up fifteen minutes earlier (okay, two) to take the time to pack Short a well-balanced lunch. Just to be on the safe side, I zipped over to the computer to Google “well-balanced lunch” and “food pyramid” and “lazy mama” just to remind myself of what the new requirements were.

Brace yourself. Chocolate was not even a food group as I had previously thought. Other shining star staples that the American Pediatric Association does not consider “appropriate” for a young child’s dietary intake? Cake, cookies, ice-cream, candy, marshmallows, and pie. Not. Included.

It turned out okay, because The Husband does all the grocery shopping.  He immediately faced this new challenge with aplomb and purchased several suitable options, focusing heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables.

I can imagine all the four-year-olds in Short’s class opening their little lunch boxes in unison. I can clearly hear the collective oohs and ahhs from Short’s teacher and the assistant teacher (and, let’s be honest, all the envious children) when they see what a perfect meal Short has in his lunchbox. The lunchbox itself is a source of extreme pride: it is BPA-safe wait, BPA-free? made from the good kind of plastic that is entirely washable and reusable. I just got major bonus points right there. Next, the meal: grapes, blackberries, strawberries, and kiwi cozy up to a neat sandwich of free-range chicken (from Whole Foods!), and in the next little compartment, a few pieces of raw broccoli. Yes, raw. Impressive, I know.

While other children sadly look down at their pre-packaged over-processed high-fructose excuse for food, my child smiles triumphantly and chomps into his sliced kiwi. 

In my hazy dream of witnessing The Opening of The Lunches, the teacher bursts into spontaneous applause.

“Short!” she calls out, admiringly, “Your mommy packed you the most perfect and healthy lunch I have ever seen!”

Short, of course, nods in agreement and then adds something along the lines of “Wait till you see what she has in mind for tomorrow!”

My cell phone/ camera rings, jolting me from my happy vision. The caller ID reveals that it’s Short’s teacher, most likely calling to congratulate me on my lunch-making prowess. 

“Mrs. MOV? Uh, I was going to email you about this, but I thought maybe I should call you instead. Short has become fixated on Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, and he quotes the cartoon non-stop from the moment he arrives at school. In Sharing Time, he did an imitation of Bugs Bunny. How much TV, exactly, is your child watching per day?”

Years of studying and working hard to become a Professional Mommy had prepared me for this precise moment. “Miss Teacher,” I said softly, “We don't even own a television.  Must have happened at Grandma's house.”

("Marshmallows Or Vegetables")

ps--tomorrow's blog:  why I love TopChef more than ProjectRunway


  1. Love love LOVE. I hope to have your level if wit, composure and timing after a little more training... and BTW, my Pie's first favorite show was Dexter. It's not going to be permanently harmful if I covered her eyes for the kill scenes, right? And also BTW, I pack my husband's lunch every day knowing that his cubemates all have hotpockets or have to run to the grocery store to get a microwave meal, and I feel superior. Mountain man's wife's cooking skill & domesticity FTW!

  2. thank you Megan-Maggie, your sweet comments made my day!


When you write a comment, it makes me feel like I won the lottery or at the very least like I ate an ice-cream sundae. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I did just eat an ice-cream sundae.)