Sunday, September 02, 2018

the scurge of the school lunch

It is true friends, I am a meal planner and a batch cooker. You can usually find me at some point on Sunday, happily listening to a podcast while I whip up lunches, treats and doing a little pre-cooking for the week. I always make a week's worth of my own lunch to take to work because I have zero interest in figuring that mess out every single day. Also I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast/lunch which makes it ridiculously easy to whip up. These days it's always a spring mix salad with a protein and a cheese with a lot of bang for the buck. So typically goat cheese or feta, dressing is a sweet hot mustard because, 1) I love it and 2) it is next to no calories for a lot of taste and that right there is my jam.

I will also whip up some cookies, muffins, or a quick bread for the kids and Mike to have through the week as a lunch extra or an after school snack. In the colder months I will simmer a pot of soup or chili. I may pre-cook something like taco filling and grate cheese if we have a busy night coming up through the week so dinner is half way done when I am pressed for time. Summer I may whip up a salad of some description that will stay stable in the fridge, but also carry us through a few meals with a barbecued main.

Now that September has arrived with it's glorious promise of cooler weather, hoodies, pumpkin spice everything and the return of the school lunch  I also make a week of lunches for my youngest child and this little chore has been a major bone of contention between my oldest and I because I do not make a week's worth of lunches for her. In fact it has been a few years since I have made her lunch at all. On our uglier days a lot of emotional statements get thrown around. Imagine things like, you love her more than me. You baby her. Why do I have to do everything, while she does nothing. Obviously it is apparent, if you look at it intellectually, that none of that is true, but some days get fueled by emotion, while intellect takes the back burner. Life with teenagers, am I right?

Recently though, we were able to have a conversation about this topic that didn't veer into emotion and provided an answer that she could completely understand and agree with. The basis, they are two very different people. One is still a tween, while one is in her middle teen years. One is very capable, very independent and able to plan ahead to meet her needs, which in this case is, I'm going to need lunch later. The other, thinks, well I'm not hungry now, so I will probably never be hungry again and would happily go off to school with next to nothing and be starving by the time she gets back home.We are a double income household, so that going to school with nothing but a granola bar was a real thing that was happening.

It has nothing to do with babying one kid. I do not want to make her lunch. Trust. I barely want to make my own lunch, but given she still falls in the child category and not damn near close to an adult category I am legally and morally obligated to make sure she is taken care of. So if that means her ability to plan ahead despite how she feels at the moment  isn't fully developed yet, I kinda got to step up and make sure she gets taken care of.  If the other kid is the valedictorian of planning ahead, well I am going to surely nurture, encourage and take advantage of that quality for my own selfish, non-lunch making game.

To clarify, I am not, not taking care of the older one. Obviously I am legally and morally obligated to take care of her as well, but she doesn't need me in that way. She is more than capable and I feel if she went to school empty handed at this age, well that's on her. This is the kid taking meetings and accepting work opportunities based on where she needs to be in the future, two full years from now. Me making her lunch is a want, not a need.  Additionally I think it is important for her to see that the world is not equal or sometimes not even fair, by her way of thinking, anyway. I think it's valuable for them to see that as a parent I sometimes need to have a different approach for each of them because they are different people and different does not mean less. That is a big one I think. Different means not the same and that's it. It certainly isn't a unit of measure.

So as we head into this new school year, her and I were side by side this morning both prepping lunches for the week. Both of us ready to get back to structure and routines. Both of us already over making school lunches. One week down, many, many more to go.

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