School Lunches: A Real Slice of Life

Grapes

Peanut Butter

Salami – lots of salami

Cookies

GoGurt

Applesauce

Chips

Juice Boxes

What do all these things have in common? They are part of school lunches that I’ve packed for my boys over the last 18 years! When I got up this morning, I actually rushed to beat my husband into the kitchen to make my son’s lunch! If you want an honest appraisal of that action, it means I enjoy making lunch for my children. It is also something with has been ingrained in me as part of our morning routine. My oldest started kindergarten in the year 2000. There was no question as to whether he’d take lunch or buy it. He was blessed with a peanut allergy, so the safest thing to do was pack his lunch. Five years later when I had another child enter school, I really didn’t ask, I just packed another lunch. And, two years after that, I rose to pack three lunches in the morning.

I did a few brief mathematical calculations to see exactly how many lunches I’ve packed over the years.

Child 1: 180 Days of School  x 11 years of attending our resident district = 1,980 lunches

Child 2: 180 Days of School  x 13 years of public school = 2,340 lunches

Child 3: 180 Days of School x 11.25 years of public school = 2,025 lunches

If I add all three totals together, I’ve packed a whopping 6,345 lunches so far! Whoa! That is a lot of lunch packing!  This number really reflects fairly accurately the amount of lunches I’ve (we’ve) packed over eighteen years of having children in public school. Never once did they come home and say, “I want to buy tomorrow, mom, so don’t pack me a lunch.” I would have been fine with that. Our district does have an outstanding food service program. But, they never asked, and I just kept packing. I asked on occasion, “Do you want to buy lunch this year?” And, I’d receive an emphatic, “no” as an answer. So, I just kept packing, and packing, and packing and packing! Of course the numbers do not reflect a missed day of school for illness or a lunch not sent because of a field trip. The totals also do not reflect the days I packed a lunch for myself because I was going in to substitute teach. Those numbers probably cancel each other out, so the calculated total is fairly accurate.

I won’t lie. I did not always have the enthusiasm I seemed to have this morning for packing a “cold lunch.” In the middle years, when I was packing three, it seemed more like drudgery than an enjoyable task. Lately, I’ve realized I enjoy packing lunches and I think it’s due to a couple of reasons. 1) I am only packing one lunch now, as I only have one child left in K-12 school, 2) My student is an athlete and I am sure to include healthy, energy boosting food for him that includes enough for an adequate after school snack before practice or enough for dinner if there is an away game. And, 3) I am in the last stages of parenting a child at home. Packing his lunch is a way to show I care about him.

Yes, I think I jumped out of bed to pack my youngest child’s lunch today because it has been a consistent act of love and caring in our house for a very long time. I wonder if I’ll miss it when he joins his brothers at college. I probably will, if only for a very brief time. It’s just one of the many changes that come with children who grow up and move out. I aim to enjoy it while I can! After all, I have another 315 lunches left to pack before he graduates!

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This post is part of the Slice of Life Tuesday Forum hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. I have participated in Slice of Life since March of 2017 and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a supportive writing community.

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