I’m deliriously happy that I have a solid ten-week break before I have to pack another school lunch. In my mom lifetime (that can be counted in dog years) I calculated that I’ve made close to ten thousand school lunches. Okay, wait that sounds wrong, it has be more like a million because my children have almost never purchased a school lunch. In fact, my son’s two claims to fame are 1) He had a childhood devoid of vacation bible school and 2) He never bought food in the cafeteria.
Yeah, I know I need to back up just a little bit and address the vacation bible school issue since it came in at number one. It’s not like I’m a heathen or anything or even heathen adjacent, but I feel like vacation bible school let me down. I did all the VBS due diligence. I volunteered. I cut out and laminated literally hundreds of cows for the “Biblical Barnyard Roundup” and decorated so many sugar cookies in the shape of a toucan for the “Jesus Jungle Safari” that it led to a flare up of my carpal tunnels.
You know that icing bag with the #2 decorating tip? Well, it’s basically a torture device and should come with prayer hotline and workman’s comp coverage. All this is my way of saying I paid into the system and then when my kids were of the appropriate age to partake of vacation bible school the rules changed.
No longer was VBS, in it’s most simplistic and realistic terms, a couple of hours of free summer babysitting where a harried mom could drop off her kids and seek spiritual guidance at the sanctuary known as Target. Nope, somebody or bodies, decided that it would be a great idea to include/force/shame parents into participating with their children in a family VBS.
Why would anyone want to mess with the longstanding tradition of VBS as being a much-needed “Oh my God, is school ever starting again?” parental drop and go? I, of course, asked this question and got some disapproving looks especially when some church mama preached, “Don’t you like spending time with your children?”
Was this a trick question because the answer was, of course, no. Who likes their children by the third week in July? Well, that bit of honesty didn’t go over well. I got some judgment that was Old Testament in nature and left me with only one recourse – boycotting VBS.
Sorry for the over share, but never fear I’m now moving on to item number 2 – the school lunch. My kids aren’t picky eaters. Their zero desire to ever eat a lunch prepared at school has nothing to do with advanced taste buds and everything to do with not wanting to stand in line to get their lunch. They wanted to head straight for the table and start eating their cheese and crackers.
If you’re curious about the cheese and crackers it’s because my kids, to this day, will not eat a sandwich that’s been in solitary confinement for more than 10 minutes. I don’t really get it. All I can say is that it’s something about how the bread and meat interact after socializing beyond a, “Hello, honey roasted turkey. How’s the family?” As a mom you can’t even attempt to apply logic to the situation. You just have to roll your eyes and move on.
When I started out packing school lunches it was easy peasy. I could have sent my son to school with a jar of mayo and a spatula and no one would have cared as long as it was Hellmann’s. By the time my daughter started kindergarten lunches had become a parenting statement. God forbid if you packed a Smuckers Uncrustable and if you ever resorted to a Lunchable be prepared for a home visit from CPS.
It’s not just the food politics it’s also that lunches have been elevated to an art form. There are mothers out there sculpting sandwich and fruit into a food story. I have a theory that the moms who post pictures of their kid’s lunches on Instagram are probably so worn out from crafting tofu on gluten-free pita sandwiches to resemble the cast of Angry Birds that they go undercover at the McDonalds drive thru to get dinner. You know what’s fun besides seeing the snobbiest lady you know getting a pedicure at Walmart? (And trust me that’s hard to top.) Catching an all up in your business organic mom at an out of neighborhood McDonalds ordering a chicken Mcnugget family value meal.
It’s those kind of simple moments that bring joy. Combine that with the summer freedom of not packing a single lunch or enduring VBS church lady shade and you’ve got me smiling ear to ear.