Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the politics of a lunch box

Who doesn't get nostalgic thinking about a lunch box? It's jammed packed with emotion. Remembering the good old days, the anticipation of lunchtime (only to be confronted with the cold reality of what my parents considered healthy vs. the Hostess frenzy going on around me; but I digress), the urge to provide your tot with just what s/he needs to get them through the day, the special note or sticker placed lovingly inside so they know you're thinking about them, negotiating what hideous character (or lack there of, in my - and some others -opinion) should appear on the front.

In today's world there seem to be many rules about the box itself and what goes inside and what it all says about you (I mean them. It's all about the kids, right?).

Some are clear: no peanuts, peanut butter, peanut dust or anything made with peanuts or processed in a factory that uses peanuts or any product that has ever been touched by a person with peanuts on their breath, for that matter.

Others are couched as "suggestions" by the preschool Nazis: "Please don't send any food in a container that can't be opened by your child" (uhm, well...what kind of mood is he in at that exact moment in time? He's three for Christ's sake, are you going to help him if he needs it, or just let him starve to death??). "We frown upon the use of plastic bags here." (gee, really? because I know he can open that, which rule is more important to you?). "Please don't send any treats of any kind (even healthy ones)." WTF? (Does the carrot/banana/granola muffin I made with my own two hands with whole wheat flour and half the called for sugar count as a treat? It's the only way I know to get carrots down his gullet at this point, so you tell me).

And then there's the end of the day inspection of the box. (Not in front of the tot, of course! don't want to start off this educational process by hinting at an eating disorder of any kind.) What does it mean that they sent the top of the yogurt home with him? Where's the container itself? Did I use the wrong container? I did, right? I'm sure I did. Are you trying to tell me that I'm a bad environmentalist? Is yogurt considered a treat??? Why is that muffin that he scarfs down in front of me still in the box and the apple slices are gone? No way did the Bean CHOSE apple slices over a muffin. Did they confiscate the muffin, only to return it to the box to send me some sort of message?

Perhaps I'm looking to find meaning where none exists. I most certainly care too much about what the pre-school staff thinks about me and my family by what appears inside Bean's non-character lunch box. Maybe this is just all new for me too.


Blogger kirsty said...

I'm with you - this is one of the stresses of parenthood that no one talks about. And, quite frankly, it's HUGE. I am a definite failure. Now that they are teenagers I have abdicated all responsibility for what they consume when I am not physically present.

3:39 PM  
Blogger pixie sticks said...

seriously, this post started out as kinda a joke. I've been shocked at how obsessed I am over the whole "bring your lunch thing". But as I was writing it, I felt like I could go on&on&on&on&on. Guess I hit my own little nerve there. Completley agreed, but the time they're teenaged, that's just not a battle I'm going to pick. As long as it's not crytal meth being consumed, I'm good.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

ha! Oh I so agree about the lunch police, and the instructions/rules/lists. Are these people parents? don't they know he will only eat a, b, &c, and without them he'll be tired and cranky and meltdown before we make it out the school gate? We had a fabulous head kindergarten teacher, now retired, who used to be amazed by the things kids had in their (almost alwys character depicting) lunchboxes. Olives! Fetta! Hummus! She kept packets of biscuits for the kids who had nothing. Ahh, she was a treasure! thanks for the memory you brought back.

2:03 AM  
Blogger afrindiemum said...

he he he. that was funny. i never even realized there would be rules for preschool lunches. but no treats? i mean - my kid loves tomatoes - and a nice, juicy sweet one makes her happier than ice cream. so no tomatoes in the lunch box? funny, funny.

at my elementary school they used to make me eat everything in my lunchbox before i could get up from the table. and my mom would pack me extra b/c i was on the small side and she hoped i'd eat more and wanted to make sure i didn't go hungry. it was pure torture.

6:19 AM  
Blogger pixie sticks said...

afrindiemum: yes! No tomatoes! She would clearly enjoy them too much. You should absolutely make her bring ice cream.

Mostly, it feels like this is just the beginning of rules that don't makes sense to me and make my life harder. Also, I don't like being told what (and what not) to do, so there's that too.

10:07 AM  
Blogger L. said...

I would guess that our kids were in the same preschool, if you hadn`t mentioned in an earlier post that you live somewhere in a "sunny" part of the city.

Today is "Sharing Day" -- the equivalent of "Show and Tell" -- and Little Son insisted on bringing one those little Hummers he got in a Happy Meal(!). I am sooooooo busted.....

Thanks for visiting my blog -- I went back and read your archives today, and your kids are ADORABLE! (I also love your black bathtub.)

11:04 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Ok, you just totally scared me about preschool. They really frown upon treats and plastic? Who's the parent anyway? Or is this an issue of "some kids get treats and other kids feel left out." Sometimes I think this new way of operating schools is going to leave our children ill-equipped for the harsh realities of the world.

Great post. THanks for getting me thinking!

12:46 PM  
Blogger pixie sticks said...

l: I am so not prepared for the judgement of "Sharing Day". God help me. I think I'll encourage B to bring a plastic bag.

mom101: Not to freak you out even more, but I bet NYC is even more cut-throat than SF. You, of course, are nice to other moms on the playground unlike (cough/cough) me, so I'm thinking the trick will be to charm them into sharing the secret handshake for getting into the perfect preschool.

3:29 PM  
Anonymous sweetchaos said...

this, amongst other things about starting school, has stressed me out to no end.

I have the one kid on earth who will only eat a PB&J on whole wheat everyday. today, I convinced him to take a salami & pickle sandwhich. I hope he eats it.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous CrankMama said...

Your blog description made me laugh.. How I LONG for fabulousness :)

8:43 PM  

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