For much of last school year, I couldn’t quite get the lunch-packing right. I gave this one peanut butter and jelly, and he stopped liking peanut butter last week. What was I thinking? I gave that one a banana, and she doesn’t eat bananas any more. She likes apples. But the other one, she only likes apples without the peel. But if you peel them, then pack them, they turn brown. And who wants to eat brown apples?
I lost track of how many mornings they’d whine and complain about what I was packing them. They’d come home from school with a lunchbag half-full of uneaten food and ask with great exasperation, “Why’d you give me string cheese? I don’t eat cheese anymore! I’m STARVING!”
And then one day I had an epiphany: if I didn’t pack their lunches, they couldn’t blame me for packing the wrong thing. I realized their hands weren’t painted on; they could pack their own lunches!
However, I didn’t want them packing just any old thing. I mean, what if one of them packed himself three granola bars and called it lunch? I wanted them to do the work, but I’m the overprotective, bit of a control-freak momma, so the Lunch List was born.
After I buy groceries, I make this list. I write down all the choices for a snack, a main lunch dish, lunch sides, and dessert. They may choose one thing from each column. And after breakfast, my kids in second, fifth, and sixth grades pack their own lunchbags. (The third grader is homeschooled.)
At our school, kindergarten is only from 8:00 to 12:15, so my kindergarten son only has to take a snack. Some days I help him pack his snack, but other days he does it himself. He can put a handful of Wheat Thins in a baggie, and he can grab a homemade granola bar out of the fridge (I make them, cut them, and individually wrap them, then store them in the fridge).
Do I have to clean up graham cracker crumbs from the counters some mornings? Yes. Does my second grader get peanut butter all over the knife handle and the outside of the peanut butter jar? Yes. Do they sometimes forget a spoon and end up sucking applesauce from the little Ziploc container or licking it out with their tongues? Yes. But I think it’s good for them to learn responsibility. I think it’s good for them to make some choices. I also think it’s good to give them guidelines in which to make those choices, which is why I love my Lunch List so much.
Now if they don’t like their lunches, it’s their own fault. The absence of whining and complaining is a beautiful thing. The Lunch List is a beautiful thing.