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Lunch time Blues

My son has a lunch date today – with his former 1st Grade teacher.  He has been looking forward to it all week.  I have been dreading it (as only a mother of an active member of the Picky Eaters of America club would do).

He missed the pizza party last week, for the students that completed those thick packets she handled out at the end of last year.  My son had an incentive to work hard during the summer, doing so many workbook pages per day, so that he could join her for this pizza party once the new school year started.  Then, wouldn’t you know it, the party was scheduled for last Friday – when we were to be out of town. Sweet teacher that she is, she told him they could have lunch together THIS week – just the two of them (!!!) and she would bring the dessert.  My son is thrilled; I been worrying about this for days.

My son LOVES pizza.  Cheese pizza is probably his favorite food.  The theme carries over to cheese quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches.  You get the idea:  bread/or dough and melted cheese.  We do not have many other consistent themes in his repertoire (that food list has not expanded much since we first posted it up on the wall).  Had he been able to attend the original party, he would have gobbled up the cheese pizza, no different than the other kids there, and life would go on.

Today, however, it is just him, the teacher and his lunch box.  And what he brings to school in his lunch box is cause for great concern.  There are many debates in our house about what should be packed and they usually end with my husband becoming extremely frustrated with the whole situation and me feeling like he wants to nominate me for Loser Mom of the Year. 

In Kindergarten, we managed okay with peanut butter and jelly.  New school, new rules – and here it is no peanut butter.  We have tried the various nut and soy butters and got the big Thumbs Down.  Besides, our son tells us, he is T-I-R-E-D of peanut butter and jelly and really doesn’t like it anymore.  How can you NOT like peanut butter and jelly?  You used to LOVE it!  It’s All-American – like baseball – I bet Russell Martin, your all-time favorite player, likes peanut butter and jelly?  (Yes, that’s right – I pull out all stops – and it never works, but I keep trying).

Nope – it is a no go.  So I move on; why waste my energy when he can’t bring it to school anyway.  Grilled cheese gets soggy – and who likes cold grilled cheese?  I empathize.  So where we are at is Luna Bars: 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and less than 2 teaspoons of sugar in each one.  Come on – how else would our terribly picky eater growing boy get 10 grams of protein at one sitting?  I really don’t think this is the worst choice in the world.

But my husband disagrees.  It is basically a candy bar, he tells me.  You are giving your son a candy bar for lunch every day.  (Notice how he is now my son for this – hmmm).  What I’d like to say in a very un-Zen like moment is “Then you pack his lunch – and good luck to you!”  Instead, I repeat the part about the high protein and how it is quick and easy to eat, which is important when your child would rather nibble for a few minutes and then run off to play as soon as they are able to be dismissed from the lunch tables.

I continue to defend my choice for his lunch, but still carry the burden of all the guilt.  Somewhere I have it in my head (or have bought into the suggestion?) that I am a bad mother because my son will not eat turkey and cheese sandwiches like the other kids.  Or go near hummus and carrot sticks like the really evolved children, whose moms must have NO idea what I am talking about.  I manage the guilt as best I can, until a day like today occurs, when I realize another adult is going to sit there with him and actually SEE what gets packed in his lunch.  It won’t just be my husband’s judgment; now I am imagining our former teacher’s disapproval as well. 

I tell myself elementary school teachers know kids are picky.  They understand getting some of them to eat what is in their lunch boxes is tough.  This isn’t classified information – they get it, right??  Maybe she will notice the water (not juice) and all the fruit (not chips or processed junk).  And why does it really matter what his FORMER teacher thinks about his eating habits or his mom’s lunch packing skills?  We had a successful year at school.  She knows my son is a sweet boy, eager to learn, and I think that would outweigh any concern she might have about his/my lunchtime choices. But the guilt nags on. 

So in a moment of panic this morning, I gave my son the 1-minute sales pitch on Kashi bars and got his hesitant okay to put that in his lunch today instead.  Kashi bars only have half the protein, but they are not covered in chocolate and therefore LOOK more like granola bars than candy bars – therefore appearing more acceptable, I think.  They are a different texture than the Luna bars, and not quite as filling (this I say from personal experience) and I am not convinced he is going to like them – or more importantly EAT them.  But we shall see.

Anyone else raising members of Picky Eaters of America – or perhaps was one themselves?  Any suggestions for making lunch time a little more enjoyable – for ALL of us?   This Zen Mama Wannabe knows it is only my responsibility to pack healthy lunches; whether he eats or not is up to him.  But it is a long school day, and blood sugar levels really take a dive when kids don’t eat.  I would like to believe there is a happy medium out there;  I am just still in the process of discovering what in the world that is!!

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2 Responses to “Lunch time Blues”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    September 12th, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Luna Bars are good… but yeah, they look like a candy bar, and taste-wise they’re pretty close to a candy bar. Probably not the best thing to put in his lunchbox on a regular basis.

    But it sounds as though you and he need to put your heads together and think about expanding the food repertoire somewhat! The food list hasn’t done its magic, so perhaps a challenge would put enough incentive into it to get him interested. Give him so many points for each new food he tries, with x number of points earning him a treat of some sort — doing something with Dad that he doesn’t often get to do, or a trip to his favorite park, or ____. You and he can set the rules as to how many bites constitutes “trying” a new food.

    You need to find ways to get him to eat more foods — you’re stressing over this; your husband is stressing over this. It would seem that it’s time to make this a priority!

    Good luck!

  2. LarkLady Says:
    September 25th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Two weeks later… how are you doing with making some changes in your son’s diet?

    And how did the lunch with his former teacher go???

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