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  • debatella

Lunch Bag Love!

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

I made my first school lunch in the fall of 1997. My oldest was 3.5 years old at the time, in pre-school and stayed for Lunch Bunch every once in a while. I thought Lunch Bunch sounded cute and I was so excited to pack up his little lunch box. I was even more excited to possibly take a nap on those days as I was very pregnant with my second child. As every parent that has ever sent their child to pre-school knows, you no sooner drop them off then it is time to pick them back up, so Lunch Bunch extended the day a little bit. I remember being so young, so bright, so shiny, so enthusiastic about making that first lunch. I planned it all out. I had several discussions with my son over what he wanted to bring. I had containers of every size, shape and color to accommodate anything he might want to pack. You know, typical new mom, never did this before, zealousness!!!

Along came another son in December of 1997, then a daughter in October of 2000. I had loads of lunch packing experience under my belt by the time my daughter went to school.

I would make 3 different lunches every day because God forbid they all liked to eat the same things. Who ate sandwiches, who didn’t, who liked fruit, who hated fruit, who like juice bags, who wanted a water bottle, who like chips, who wanted pretzels. They NEVER all just took the same things. Oh, how I dreamed about lining up the bags and just dropping all the same stuff in assembly line style. But noooooooooooooo, it never happened that way.

One of my kids would not eat the lunch if it was made the night before school. Said child wanted a fresh, made that morning, lunch. I can’t tell you how many times I made the lunches the night before and had one of my other kids look out so I didn’t get caught. It was a whole production. My accomplice would be stationed outside of the kitchen with a clear view of the hallway and would sound the alarm (yell) if I was in danger of getting caught. There were a few times that the lookout didn’t do such a great job and I got busted. It was a dramatic, ridiculous, scenario to say the least!

I would buy “lunch snacks”. You know pre-portioned chips, crackers, cookies, etc, and the kids knew those snacks were off limits for regular snacking. They were to eat from the big bags or boxes for just hanging home and snacking. If I had a penny for every fight over someone eating the school snacks, then someone telling on them or me catching them for the umpteenth time I would have had enough money to hire someone else to pack their lunches!

Every once in a while, I would put a little love note in their bags. They would play it off like they were too cool for such things but deep down they loved it. At least that’s what I tell myself.

In the fall of 2016 my daughter was a sophomore in high school and my only child left home to make lunch for and I began to draw on her lunch bag every day. I started doing it to amuse myself and to make a tedious chore a bit lighter and more fun. At first, I would just write her name in different ways all over the bag, or draw hearts, stars or other shapes. Sometimes I would make the bags seasonal. I would google things like “easy fall drawings” or “easy Christmas doodles” for new ideas. As time went on my drawing skills improved a little and I would think up a whole series of themes for the bags. If I was going to be away for a few days I would draw on bags ahead of time so I didn’t miss any days of her having something special just from me. Some mornings as I drew I would think about how this was all ending soon and cry then hide that I was crying when I heard her coming down the stairs because, well because…….teenagers! Need I say more?

What I have found over the past 25 years of being a mom is that it is the end of the little, monotonous, labor intensive, things that get you right in the heart even more so than the big milestones, mostly because you didn’t even realize they were dwindling down and ending.

You know when a birthday is coming or graduation is approaching and you are prepared for the typical emotions that come with those events. No one prepares you for the days when you stop giving them a bath because they are old enough and want to do it themselves, when they can tie their own shoes, or get themselves a bowl of cereal or when the bedtime stories and extra tuck-ins stop. (that last one!!!! I’m crying typing!!!) One day you wake up and your routine is slightly changed and you know something is different but you can’t quite put your finger on it and you kind of like it because you’re exhausted and need a break and it’s nice to just not have someone need you to do something every second of every day. You’ll run into and speak to someone with kids younger than yours and then you will realize all the small things that you don’t have to do anymore. I am here to tell you from personal experience and tons of Kleenex that those little things are the BIG things and you will miss them immensely! So, while making school lunches is far from glamorous and exciting it is special. Your kids will remember if they bought or brought. They will remember if you packed their favorite snacks. They will remember if you wrote them little love notes or drew on their bags.

Today, May 24, 2019 I packed my last school lunch ever and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will miss this long time chore!

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