Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Is The Make-The-Lunch Fairy Coming To My House?

The kids were tucked all snug in their beds, visions of lunchboxes packed with delicious food filled their heads ... and I was standing in the kitchen, post-work day, after supervising homework/showers/changing into PJs/picking clothes for tomorrow/eating dinner/brushing teeth/reading books, and finally tucking them in, with some help from Late Blooming Dad.  But now I was alone in the kitchen, eyes scanning the fridge forlornly, searching for inspiration.   What to make them?  What to make them they'd actually eat some tomorrow if I made it for their lunch boxes tonight?  It's then I had a vision:  a vision of the Make-The-Lunch Fairy.

Our kids get visits from the Tooth Fairy whenever they lose a tooth.  Why can't we weary moms get a visit from the Make-The-Lunch Fairy whenever we are overwhelmed by life, and underwhelmed by the prospect of making yet another round of lunch box lunches?
Ah, if I could only stick a note under my pillow -- or perhaps an empty Tupperware container -- and wake up the next morning to find two beautifully prepared, appealing-looking, nutritionally sound lunches-- well, at least not food that would get me a justifiable reprimand from Jamie Oliver -- that my kids would devour.  Scratch that, devour isn't necessary; just not waste half.  I'd gladly clap my hands to revive Tinker Bell and proclaim to all that I do believe in fairies if only this vision of blissful lunchbox heaven could come true.

Alas, I know it is not to be.  But is there anything more disheartening to the perpetually tired mom on a work-a-day school night than that prospect of making their lunches after everything else is finally done, and all you want to do is have a few moments to yourself (or, here's a novel idea, a few moments to actually be with and maybe even touch your husband, in interesting places, if you're not quite unconscious with exhaustion yet?)  We really do need some real-world form of the Make-The-Lunch Fairy.  And she shouldn't just confine her magical duties to making the lunches.  She ought to plan for it and shop for it too.

Saturday night, Late Blooming Dad made dinner and it was awesome.  Oh, the food was good, but I'm not so much talking about the food.   I'm talking about how he looked at what we had in the house, decided on a menu, made a main course for himself and Late Blooming Mom, and another entree for the kids that was kid-acceptable (we manage to have an entree kids and grown-ups can agree on about 50% of the time), plus sides we could all enjoy.  Late Blooming Mom entertained the kids while he cooked, actually had fun playing with her own children, and gave not a thought to the coming meal.  It was awesome.

The only thing that might have been better would have been if he'd made it on a weeknight, but Late Blooming Dad's work schedule doesn't often permit this to happen.  So I'll take what I can get. 

On weeknights, it's usually me putting dinner on the table, and it's also usually me lunch-making.  Though now that I think of it, that happens AFTER the kids are asleep and work is (mostly) done, at least on most nights.  Perhaps Late Blooming Dad could be persuaded to be the once-in-a-while Make-The-Lunch-Fairy?  I know, I know, this means me accepting without criticizing whatever lunch Late Blooming Dad throws together, which may not look like, or be comprised of, the precisely balanced meal Late Blooming Mom feels compelled to pack (e.g., a mix of protein, carbs, fruits and veggies, in appropriately kid-sized small portions).  Late Blooming Dad's lunch box offerings may wind up looking a little different.   But neither is he going to a pull a Bill Cosby, who famously, at least in a comedy routine, confessed to giving his kids chocolate cake for breakfast (because it contained eggs and milk, so why not?). 

The thing is, whatever lunch he makes may come back less than half-eaten ... just like the ones I pack.  It's the kids who make this so damn hard.  I've taken to sitting down with them on occasion and making or revising a list of the lunch items they consider acceptable.  And that list is far too short, particularly when it comes to Thing 1, whose range of consumption-worthy food items wouldn't even fill the screen of an i-phone.  Still, it's what I've got to work with.  The list leads to a lot of repeats, and the problem with too many repeats is, those frequently appearing items soon lose their lunch-box appeal, and the acceptable lunch list grows ever shorter.  If only Thing 1 would replace one removed item with something new.  But alas, he is infamously reluctant to try new foods.  I thank the taste bud gods that at least Thing 2 was born with a somewhat more adventurous palate.  Her "I will eat" list runs half the length of a notepad page -- an almost reasonable length -- and she occasionally deems something worthy to add to it.

I try to be comforted by first lady Michelle Obama's admission that for a year or so of her childhood, all she ate were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Now she's growing a White House vegetable garden.  So I know there's hope for my kids.  They will no doubt grow up to be good eaters as adults, or at least, eaters who consume more than a handful of things over and over again.  But the evolution of their appetites can't come soon enough for me: just think of how many lunches I'll have to pack between now and then?  The mind boggles.  The mom weeps.

I guess for now I will have to make do with nudging Late Blooming Dad to pretend he's the Make-The-Lunch-Fairy once in while.  The rest of the time, I'll be back to my planning/shopping/and bleary-eyed, exasperated weeknight lunch box prep sessions.   But if anyone really does get a visit from a Make-The-Lunch Fairy, would you please send her over to my house?

1 comment:

Karen said...

Oh Hol,

I hear you. We are lucky enough to have school lunch programs that are nutritionally marvelous, utilizing as much local produce and meat as possible. Both the elementary schools and high school have chefs that create menus that are nutritious, colorful, and appealing to kids and adults. All of us eat "hot lunch". Of course, there is then the guilt about the cost of the meals and how we can make lunches for less money...blah, blah, blah. I had to do what worked for us and for $2.50 a meal (which includes an entree, at least one side dish, a salad and a fruit dessert as well as milk) we really can't go wrong. I did feel like a bit of a failure, not creating glorious and nutritious lunches packed with a napkin in a lunchbox. Oh well. My kids are healthy...:)