CHICAGO, IL: Every day I pack a lunch for my boys. And every day the lunch box is an experiment in what you want out of life and what you actually get. If I packed what my boys wanted to eat in the scant twenty minutes they are allowed to partake of sustenance, then all I would need is a cache of Snickers bars and a case of Dr. Pepper. Of course I would never indulge this sugar encrusted fantasy, but a happy medium must be reached.
There are a few considerations a mom takes into account when assembling the contents of the lunch box. First, kids have got to eat something. It’s bad enough when they get home they eye up everything from the sofa to the dog with ravenous and predatory eyes.
Second, a mom must face the reality that people are watching. Teachers, lunch lady volunteers, other moms who hang out at school are assessing your experiment and adding a new hypothesis of how this food translates into your child’s behavior. Chances are their child is sipping water and nibbling broccoli while nursing a backache from toting home Dickens’ entire oeuvre.
And so the delicate dance of aspirations and reality are played out in the confines of Stormtroopers and insulated vinyl. I pack a sandwich because I have not completely given up. I pack a stick of cheese because the sandwich always comes back with mere minor abrasions. I pack a juice box because they have a water bottle at their desks so who the heck would want more water? I pack a sweet, like cookies or a pouch of yogurt because pessimism has been a guiding principle in my life and why would it let me down now?
Finally, each and every day I pack a vegetable or fruit. It is the most time consuming of all the contents. I take the stems off the grapes. I peel the oranges and put them in little containers. I slice cucumbers and provide dip. But each and every day, that fruit comes back. The truth is I send produce on a one hundred and eighty day walkabout.
I keep hoping we are all a little wiser when it’s done.