I often feel like a failure when it comes to certain aspects of parenting – mostly the aspects that you can brag about on social media. I am not crafty. I do not have an especially beautiful house with adorable kid projects all over it. But the thing at which I feel like I’m failing most, is sending my kid to preschool with something interesting to eat. My kid goes to preschool three days a week and I pack him the same lunch every, single time he goes. Is it okay that I am starting to make peace with this?
I met his start of preschool with some apprehension. Apart from Gymboree, he’d never been in a setting for an extended period of time where he was expected to follow the crowd. I wondered how that would go. I also wondered if he would sit still through lunch, as my child seems to love touring the house while he eats. After momentarily thinking about whether he would sit still long enough to eat anything, I remembered I was the one tasked with the chore of packing something for him to consume. So I did what any other mom looking for inspiration might do – I visited Pinterest. That was a crap idea, just FYI.
Bento boxes, adorably-shaped sandwiches, pasta salads — there were so many things you could do for your kid’s lunch. I became immediately confused and intimidated. I went to Target and bought an Elmo sandwich cutter that had a little tool that made an impression of his face on the bread. My child was not impressed and his sandwich was flattened and ruined. I decided to go with just regular old PB&J.
One day I asked my child what his favorite friend brought to class for lunch. “Chicken,” he replied. Chicken, I thought. Chicken is on the menu for packed preschool lunches in other homes? I made a pasta salad for his lunch the next day and tucked it into his little Jake and the Pirate’s snack box. His snack box came home full. Turkey and cheese sandwiches went untouched. So did the snap-pea crisps and the carrot sticks. Time and time again, the only thing this kid would finish was a lunchbox full of his favorites; peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grapes, apple slices and apple juice. So I decided that this is what my kid would be eating for lunch. Three times a week. Every week. Without fail.
No, I don’t make cute little peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls and I don’t buy a bunch of new snacks trying to see if anything else will come home devoured. He eats this stuff, he’s four years old, and I’m cool with it.
(photo: Hurst Photo/ Shutterstock)