Lunch Shamed

Lunch Shamed

With the onset of a new school year fast approaching, I know my kid is a bit nervous. I won’t lie though, I’m think I’m probably more nervous.

I worry about the usual things:

  • Will I remember to do laundry often enough so that Nathan has clean clothes every day?
  • Will I have enough of whatever odds and ends are necessary to make whatever ridiculous project he will be assigned that will require me to gather up odds and ends?
  • How many pencils will be thrown, tears shed, and papers crumpled in an attempt to avoid doing homework he is perfectly capable of doing?
  • And what about the bullying and shaming?

For the record, I’m not worried about Nathan being bullied. I’m worried about me. These kids are brutal!

Last June, I was standing on the playground with Nathan and some of his friends. He asked if I had packed his lunch I and told him I had. (Of course I had! I only forgot that *one* time.) He was satisfied with my response so I turned to join the grown ups and engage in some early morning, under-caffeinated conversation.

“Nathan’s Mom? I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” Nathan’s friend had a very serious face on as he addressed me and an even more serious tone.

I need to tell you something about this kid. I’ve always liked him. He’s such a nice, helpful kid. He offered me decorating tips once, including where I could install a flat screen TV on Nathan’s bedroom wall so that the next time he came over he could bring his Michael Jackson dancing game for PlayStation. He also suggested I buy Nathan a PlayStation of his very own. See? Very helpful.

Knowing I was likely in for some solid child-rearing wisdom from the mind of a seven year old, I gave him my undivided attention.

“Well,” he went on, “why do you only pack snacks for Nathan’s lunch?”

“I pack what he likes. There’s nutrition in there!” I was defensive. I’m a little self-conscious over my kid’s pickiness sometimes and now I had let his friend ruffle my feathers. But it was early and I’d only had one gallon of coffee so far. I wasn’t firing on all cylinders yet.

“There are all sorts of lunch things you could pack for him instead of cereal bars. See, my mom packs me chicken nuggets and sandwiches.”

“Your mom sounds great.”

“Do you want me to ask her what else you could make for him?”

“Um, no thanks.”

He was taken aback that I declined his offer. But then he smiled broadly and I’m pretty sure I saw a light bulb illuminate over his head.

“Nathan could buy his lunch. The school actually sells food. On Fridays they have pizza!” He was so proud of himself.

Nathan, who stood by silently this entire time, finally joined the conversation.

“I don’t like pizza,” he said.

“Yeah, he doesn’t like pizza,” I said as I put my arm around Nathan’s shoulder. Solidarity, my son.

Thankfully the teacher showed up just as this kid was refining the skill of the side-eye. He shrugged and said, “Okay, I don’t know what to tell you then,” and he took his place in line with the other children.

The other children who probably had better lunches than my kid did.

But this year will be different. I bought cinnamon bread and organic fruit strips.ย That’s going to change everything.


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Featured Image Credit: Me! This was an actual lunch I packed for Nathan before I gave up packing lunches he wouldn’t eat.

34 Responses to “Lunch Shamed”

  1. Stacie says:

    You showed great restraint not punching him in the face. This made me laugh from beginning (odds and ends) to end (featured image credit).

    • michellelongo says:

      The kid really is funny and nice, but he has no clue about how adults don’t really need all of his advice :) I’m glad this made you laugh. I do live in fear that an adult might criticize our lunch choices though. I don’t feel like explaining why I pick the battles I pick to people who don’t live here.

  2. Natalie DeYoung says:

    Hahaha. See, I laughed. You’re funny. Especially after you’ve had your morning allotment of coffee.
    Also: I was Nathan growing up. My poor mother.

    • michellelongo says:

      Coffee really does help my sense of humor. I was picky, but I at least ate sandwiches. Nathan’s is picky and very particular in the presentation of his food as well, so many things he likes can’t be presented in a packable way. It’s not fun and I really was thinking no one cared until I got called out by a kid!

  3. Packing his lunch is just one source of anxiety for me now that Philip is a kindergartener. Plus, we haven’t been able to get him to eat breakfast since the first day of school. I’m hoping that, now that he is going for several days in a row, his body will adjust.
    Sorry to have such a serious reply to a funny post.

    • michellelongo says:

      We’ve gone through no breakfast phases too. I used to check in with the teacher to see if his behavior was different after lunch on particular days based on what I packed. I also for a while had Nathan send home his packaging and discards so I could see what he actually ate vs what was thrown out. Maybe someone can help you out with that with Philip. It’s so hard when they’re out of our care, adjusting to new surroundings, and the routine is altered. You’ll figure out what works for you and go with it, just like we did. Just ignore any classmates with advice :)

  4. Suzanne says:

    This reminds me of my step-son (who I adore, by the way). When he was little, he loved to offer advice, and he would always start his advice with “No offence, but…”

    And how awesome is Nathan for showing some solidarity?

    • michellelongo says:

      Nathan hates when we discuss his lunch because I am often encouraging him to try new things, so I’ll bet he just wanted the conversation to end!

      Nathan offers lots of suggestions but I tend to ignore them. Somehow when it was someone else’s kid I took it personally!

  5. Sam Merel says:

    Tell me more about this cinnamon bread…it sounds dreamy and like something I really, really need to have.

    Also, way to not just deck that obnoxious little brat.

    • michellelongo says:

      It’s the Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread. So probably not really all that healthy, but since he only eats toasted rye (uniformly toasted, btw, no color variations) and French Toast or the weird bread he used to make at camp, this is branching out. I’m trying to get him to eat cold bread so we can move to a sandwich someday. Baby steps.

      This kid actually is a nice kid, if not a bit forward :)

  6. Jen says:

    I have serious lunch packing anxiety issues! I totally agree with packing what they like even if it means non sandwiches and nuggets.. which… I can’t imagine would taste good anyway?

    I also have never met so many “bold” kids in my whole life! I never would have spoken to grown ups this way, or the way they talk to me!

    • michellelongo says:

      They are so bold! I might have made suggestions to my friends, but never their parents!!

      Nathan’s food presentation is important to him in that if it doesn’t look, taste, feel, smell as he’s used to, he refuses it. So nuggets that have been in a thermos all day are never going to fly. I did try French Toast sticks once and almost had him, but he didn’t like how they were cut :-/

  7. Silverleaf says:

    I’m clearly a tough-ass mom. My son gets his sandwiches on grainy bread, 2-3 types of vegetables, fruit and 1 healthy snack (rice crackers or cheese or something). Other than giving him what I know he prefers in his sandwiches, I don’t bend to his whims. He knows he has to eat his lunch. But he’s just started with this super-alternative teacher who – get this! – has a basket in her classroom for all the food kids don’t like. They can put their food in the basket and other kids can then pick from it. Totally goes against all our rules!

    • michellelongo says:

      I wish I could do that. We are in the process of overcoming a severe food aversion that started when he was about a year old. He no longer vomits at the sight of certain foods (anything with tomato sauce being the biggest offender), so that’s good. He can sit with his friends at lunch without issue but serving him something he doesn’t like while he’s working to not react to the sights and smells of other people’s lunches would be asking for trouble.

      Carol, a commenter a few down, can attest to how much a kid can puke in someone’s lap at a table in a diner when a plate of spaghetti and sausage gets passed under his nose. That was a fun night…

      • Carol says:

        I had forgotten about that diner incident… though his food aversion seems to have lessened (or we’ve been lucky to not be seated near people eating the wrong foods on more recent outings).

  8. Carol says:

    So glad I’m not the only one stressed out about having enough clean clothes and healthy-ish lunch foods and craft supplies. (Am I the only parent who actually throws out old magazines and shoe boxes? It seems we’re constantly expected to have both in our home.) I recently got parenting advice from one of Ryan’s 3-year-old classmates… it was time to go home, but Ryan wanted to stay at daycare and play in the sandbox. His friend was coaching me on what to say to Ryan to get him to agree to leave (for example, “You should tell him he’s going to get a surprise in the car or at home if he goes with you.”) I did manage to get Ryan home without following his advice, but the kid was pretty upset with me for not listening to him. I felt like that kid was definitely judging me and my parenting skills… though I wasn’t thinking much of his parents at that point either – wonder how the bribery tactic is going to work out for them as he gets older.

    • michellelongo says:

      When I went to buy long sleeved uniform shirts in kindergarten, they only had 2 left. But since the school week has 5 days, this was a problem. Or, I could have purchased 3 more shirts from another uniform store or returned to that store at any time over the last 2 years. But, alas, I did not and so I’ve been doing laundry constantly. And yes the shirts really were so big in kindergarten that they still fit. I have to buy more now though.

      Ryan’s friend must get bribed constantly. Haha! Is he the oldest kid? Kids… always thinking we don’t know anything…

  9. Those little snacky lunches are GREAT lunches! I resisted them for a long time with my oldest but realized that he was just bored with a sandwich and a fruit and a blah blah blah. Give him little cups of food and he eats it all. Whatever it takes, right?

    And oh man those unsolicited advice givers start YOUNG. Mine is constantly telling me how I can improve anything. I’ve taken to telling him “Hmmm…you’re assuming I haven’t already thought about that.” He blinks, then starts talking about video games again.

    • michellelongo says:

      I LOVE that reply to the helpful comments and will try it out on the next one. I don’t even care if it’s an adult giving me suggestions!

      And yes, I don’t know why kids fall for things like little cups and cute things, but they do. If it helps me without breaking my bank (i.e. precut fruit – why is it so expensive??), I’m all over it.

  10. Christina says:

    hehe, for some reason, i read the kids’ comments in the the character of Russel from the movie, UP. ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. katybrandes says:

    Back in the day, I would’ve been scared to death to make those “suggestions” to somebody’s mom. I believe a healthy level of fear of adults is a good thing!
    Little smart aleck kids learn from their smart aleck parents, and they drive me nuts. :)

  12. What a confident kid, wanting to solve everyone’s problems. I’m sure he means well.

  13. anachips says:

    Those moments when kids have no filters (or simply haven’t learned them yet) can make some of the best stories, though they may be less fun to live through! I’m sure your lunches are awesome – I prefer to have snacks all day, so maybe Nathan’s on to something.

  14. Meg says:

    Hah! What a precocious little kid. Love your writing, Michelle. This was sweet.

  15. Robbie says:

    kid sounds like a hoot. Three kids and 8 years of packing lunches and i could care less what other ppl think of what I pack. My kids are it is the same damn thing every day and not chock full of healthy foods…but there is some nutritional value.

    • Nathan wants variety but he only eats three things so it’s hard. Anyone who criticizes is free to come over here and make him a lunch they supplied and if he doesn’t eat it they can be on call to deal with the fall out from a grumpy kid :)

  16. kinleydane says:

    My favorite line was, ‘okay, I don’t know what to tell ya then.’ Ha ha, I love kids like that, mini-adults.

    Good to see you in a new blog! I love it :) I’ve been missing for a while, but am trying to come back (this is Kianwi, by the way :)

    • Hey!! So glad to see you back around :) All my old posts are here (good luck finding them since I’ve been too lazy/preoccupied to appropriately categorize them) but I’m happy to be off blogger. Thanks for stopping by!

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