Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pack a Lunch

I bet those Vanilla-Isis Y'allQaeda Walmartyrs wish they'd packed a lunch.
I wonder if their mom has the 12-hour rule.

I have a long-standing rule at the House of Lee:

You're responsible for keeping track of what's for hot lunch. If you don't like it, you must notify me the night before in order to take a cold lunch. If you forget, you're stuck eating whatever it is that you claim disgusts you. I will not throw together a lunch in the three minutes before you have to catch the bus.

I would say that it's because I'm trying to churn out self reliant and responsible citizens to the world. More accurately, it's just all I can do to keep track of my own shit without having wildcards thrown in. Hubs and I have different styles here. He carefully packs up their hockey gear. I tell them practice is in 45 minutes and if they don't get their poop in a pile, I'm not making a special trip home for something they forgot. Mornings are especially grinding on everyone's nerves, and I lose my marbles when they drop last minute requests on me.

So the lunch rule. This has resulted in many elementary cafeteria gagging sessions.  But they know better than to ask me morning of, because I have consistently applied this rule, and it works.

So it was really no surprise when I encountered a crumpled green post it note on the kitchen counter.

"I'm going to want cold lunch pretty much this whole month. Like a lot of times."

Esten. He had carefully reviewed the January lineup and decided to tap out. He thought his blanket request would cover him for nightly reminders. I wasn't biting.

"Good thing you're a bigtime fifth grader this year and you know how to make a sandwich so you can pack your own lunch. But so help me if I look in your lunchbox and see a bunch of crap in there, you will eat hot lunch from now until the end of time."

"Even the gross stuff?"

"ESPECIALLY the gross stuff."

He was prepared for a debate.

"I made a list of pros and cons for why I should or should not have cold lunch. For example, pro: I know I will like everything in there, so I will eat more. Pro: I won't be wasting food that I don't like. Con: I have to dig those freezy things out and try not to bump the beer glasses because they break. Pro: I had like a whole list of things and to be honest I did not anticipate you agreeing right away."

He embarked enthusiastically on this little journey on Wednesday. He carefully packed up his portioned out ziplocs and we agreed that he would still always buy milk at school. He packed the items I insisted on; cucumbers and mandarin oranges. He gingerly placed the ice pack so it wouldn't smash his precious meal. He strutted like a peacock getting ready, brushing teeth, an air of responsibility swirling around him.

After fighting with Clayton over outerwear (like Groundhog day every day of my life) I shoved them out the door sufficiently protected against the elements. I finished getting myself ready for work. I pulled out my own lunchbag, packed it with approved foods for my perpetual diet, and set the Keurig to crank out another cup of coffee for the road.

I fulfilled ToddlerBandit's request demand for toast cut with cookie cutters; one star and one gingerbread man. I filled his cup with the appropriate amount of "appadouche". I found a leftover candy cane. I suggested to him that he might have it if he went on his potty chair today. I let him watch as I taped it to the bathroom mirror. I listened as he completely lost his shit.

Deciding I was having none of it, I relayed the candy cane plan to the Hubs who responded with something like "Yeah right. No. Thanks for ruining his day. Bye." but I couldn't really hear him over the constant piercing screams coming out of TB's cookie hole.

I stopped at the hall tree to slip on my shoes. As I grabbed my coat and badge from the hook, I glanced down on the bench. Right there, mocking me...Esten's freaking lunchbox.


I stopped by the school to drop it off. As usual, when met with the secretary's questions, I couldn't muster what his teacher's name was. Then I forgot which kid it was for. I don't know what it is about that office that makes me forget very basic information. Luckily I'd hastily written it on a piece of tape wrapped around the handle. Saved.

When we were all back at home last night he looked sheepish.

"Thank you for bringing my lunch."

"You're welcome. But that won't happen again. Next time you forget, tough luck. You will just have to eat whatever is for hot lunch. Even if it's so gross like octopus tentacles. I won't always have time to do that."

"I know."

He does know. He knows that I'm serious. What he doesn't know is that he is just like me, and I'm just doing my darnedest to reset that part of his brain so things get easier. I will never ever say I'm a "have my act together" kind of person.

Just ask Hubs.

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