Lately Sawyer has been praising other kids’ school lunches. I pack his lunch every morning, and have every morning of every school day since he started kindergarten. I admit it: I don’t get overly creative. His lunch usually consists of a ham and cheese sandwich, chips or crackers, sometimes fruit, water, and a small dessert. That’s about the size of every lunch. Every day.
A few weeks ago, he started talking about other lunches at his table. About the hot pockets and the two applesauces and the notes from moms. About the Gatorade and the juice boxes and the leftover pizza. This morning I decided to heat up a hotdog for him because, hey, branching out, and when he saw the hotdogs, he told me Aaron’s mom cuts his hotdogs to look like little octopuses. So, I agreed to try doing that and lamely cut his hotdogs into something that was totally wrong. He examined them for a minute and tried to spread their pathetic little legs out the way Aaron’s amazing hotdogs go. Finally, he said, with fake cheer in his voice, “Well, those’ll work.”
Deflated, I reached up into the cabinet and found some cool lunchbox notes that someone had given me awhile back, printed in bright colors, with all kinds of great God-thinks-you’re-awesome type sayings on them. He saw the note as I slipped it into his lunchbox. “A note? Oh, you should see the funny notes Aaron’s mom puts in there. They say, ‘Finish your banana before your dessert and then solve this riddle.'”
Oh, cool. Aaron’s mom is the hotdog cutting queen AND a hilarious note writing genius.
I immediately felt myself getting defensive. I started with the typical “good-for-them” defense.
“Well, it’s great for Jason if his mother wants to spend $7 a day on school lunches, but we aren’t going to do that.” I’m not sure where I got the number 7. It just seemed like a good outrageously high kid lunch figure.
Then I moved into the “you’re-lucky-I’m-your-mom” defense.
“Just remember, Sawyer, that those other kids’ moms can’t _____________.” Do the running man. Build Lego sets with 1500 pieces. Rap every word of “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Quote Jabba the Hutt. Basically whatever I can think of in the moment that might impress an eight year old boy.
Finally, I went with the “take-it-or-leave-it” defense.
“It sounds to me like you want variety. The best way to get that is by just eating the cafeteria food.” I feigned such encouragement and support.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he immediately cried out.
I gave him a kiss and sent him out the door with his inferior lunch.
I reminded myself that he’s lucky I even speak in the mornings, much less smile and listen to Minecraft stories and fix him a lunch. I told myself that he isn’t feeling like my lunch-making skills are lacking–he is just admiring other lunches like a good friend should. I told myself that he is happy for his friends and their awesome, knee-slapping, finger-licking, marine-animal-shaped luncheon goodness.
I told myself that someday he would admire my running man way more than my sack lunch-packing abilities.
And then I imagined him opening his thermos filled with weirdly cut, not at all octopus-like hotdogs, and I wondered how he would explain that to Aaron and his other friends.
For about three minutes I considered getting on Pinterest and looking for cute lunch ideas that I could impress him and his buddies with. But, then I remembered he would be impressed with pizza rolls. So, I fully plan to blow the minds of a table full of second grade boys. Totino’s. Boom. Take that, Aaron’s mom.