Whether you are just starting to think about what type of lunch box to buy your soon to be kindergartner or are in the process of making the last few lunches for a graduating senior or are somewhere in the midst of the chaos of it all…lunch is a meal that most kids are going to eat every day for the 13 years between k-12. In fact, given the normal 180-day school year, during those 13 years of school, that is 2,340 lunches…more if you pack lunch for summer camp and less given snow days, sick days, and half days…and pizza day at school!!
I always packed the boys’ lunches…not because they were not capable and not to make them co-dependent. If I was at a client or busy or in some way incapacitated from lunch making ability, they made their lunches without complaint. I did it most of the time because it gave me one more connection with them during the day. Whether I had time to put a goofy note saying “I LOVE YOU!!!!!!” Or “good luck on your test” Or “remember to go to the orthodontist after school”…it was one more time that they knew I was there, that I loved them, that they were never really alone. When they ate the sandwich I made or the yogurt I packed or the oatmeal bar I baked, I was there in that lunch bag, taking care of them one more time, watching their back, keeping them safe. I can’t protect them from bad guys every second. I can’t make them look a second time before crossing the street. But hopefully my voice is in their head saying “put your seat belt on, tie your shoes, don’t text and drive, finish your lunch, wash your hands, and I love you and I love you and I love you forever no matter what.”
A little silly, I know. They are essentially all grown up. And maybe that is why I still make their lunches. They are so self-sufficient in so many ways, but when you do something sweet for someone just because you can, not because you must, the recipient cannot help but feel the love. If your school has a hot lunch program so you don’t send lunch, you can still send a midday text (you know they are checking their phones at school even if they are not supposed to) saying, hope your day is great. I love you! Or something silly. When my oldest is at school, I text him lines from favorite tv shows that we have laughed at together and I get a smiley face back. Another connection. A moment’s interaction. Another lunch. Mom is still there. She’s always there. The sun always rises. Mom always loves me. Kids deserve that…something that they can count on.
So… the lunches…keep them healthy with an unexpected treat from time to time. Yogurt, oranges, cheese sticks, whole grain breads, water bottles. But always pack the love on top so they get that first. One day they will be packing lunch for your grandchildren, and I think that they will remember to put the love in the lunch box too.