The lunch lady cometh

My four year old couldn’t wait to go back to school. Frankly, I encouraged the enthusiasm.

We had quite a busy summer (in much the same way that ants get busy once someone follows them around with a magnifying glass and sets their ant hill ablaze) and I think we could all use some back to school routine. He has a new backpack, new socks and a new outlook on life – mommy and daddy know nothing. But that’s another post.

One thing that hasn’t changed is his pickiness when it comes to food. Packing his lunches has always been a bit tricky and I’ve come to approach the process with a mixture of fear and defeat. This tenacious child has carefully curated a list of foods that he will eat from a much larger list of foods that he used to eat. The whittled-down smorgasbord consists of a bagel with cream cheese, fruit, veggies and a juice box.

I am not, under ANY circumstances, to give him a “sammich” again.

I am not allowed to get creative, experiment or try something new. One time I got Pinterest-y and made him Wow Butter and jam on a whole wheat tortilla, rolled up and sliced to resemble sushi. If I remember correctly, it was returned, uneaten and unrolled to expose “Seriously?” written in the jam. I know you’re supposed to expose a new food to your kids at least 20 times before they’ll accept it into their diet, but frankly, right now I have neither the will nor the budget to throw out 20 lunches before my son deigns to lick a slice of roast beef. I have bigger fish to fry. Also he won’t eat fish.

photo: Paul L Dineen
photo: Paul L Dineen

And then, two weeks ago, I received an email from his school. They’ve invested in a lunch program. I can go online and order menu items a la carte, pick the days I want them delivered, and voila – no more guessing, no more failing, no more tossing food in the garbage.

This blends some of my favourite things: food, online shopping, and getting someone else to help me organize my life. If he’s going to throw out food, it won’t matter if it’s the meals I make him or the food I pay someone to prepare.

This might even be an opportunity to increase his incredibly shrinking palate. We can scan the menu items together, creating a list of things he likes and then blend things he might be willing to try. I’ve started the ball rolling by encouraging him to try the chicken nuggets I scheduled for Wednesday’s lunch. What he said: “I will never eat those yucky things.” What I heard: “I love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for providing me with nourishing sustenance.”

I also cling to preschool lemming mentality: if he sees his peers eating the same food, he might be encouraged to try it too. God bless peer pressure. I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime, I purchased five million bagels at Costco. Just in case.


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