School Lunch Guilt

11949853481301765885paperbag1_juliane_krug.svg.hiMy mom never let us take a home lunch to school. We begged, we pleaded, we cried, but we didn’t get it. And that’s okay. We survived.

Well I thought I was granting my boys a great privilege by allowing them to choose each month what days they got to bring a home lunch.

Yesterday that privilege backfired and I’m almost thinking my mom knew what she was doing.

At the end of the month I sit down with my boys and we look over a printed calendar filled with a menu of the next month’s lunch options. We cross through the days that the boys think the food sounds “disgusting” and I plan on packing them a sandwich those days.

Yesterday’s menu options were not crossed through. At some point a couple of weeks ago either the penne pasta or chicken tenders sounded good to my boys because each of them said they’d eat school lunch and that’s what the kitchen was serving yesterday.

My 7-year-old’s taste buds must have changed since then because about 10 minutes before we were supposed to walk out the door to drive to school he suddenly wanted a home lunch.

I refused and he started crying.

The dilemma: I could give in and scramble like a mad woman to slap peanut butter on some bread and shove it into his lunch bag or I could make him stick to his choice and eat the penne or chicken.

Visions of him starving while out at lunch recess almost led me to cave in. But there was no time.

Do you know how many things we have to get done in those precious last 10 minutes before we leave? It’s amazing we ever make it to school before the tardy bell rings. Let’s just say I am not a morning person and I am the queen of procrastination.

I tried to explain to him that there was no time; that we had that lunch calendar for a reason – so I knew ahead of time when I needed to prepare yet another thing during our morning scramble.

I felt really bad yesterday for not giving him what he wanted but I forced the mom guilt away and stood by my I’m-not-making-you-a-lunch-because-we-have-no-time decision.

It was hard because to be honest, I like making home lunches for my boys.

I wasn’t going to let my kids have them – my mom didn’t let me and I turned out just fine, so why would I let my kids? Yet my oldest son had a difficult time adjusting to kindergarten and having a meal that he knew he would like seemed to help with all of the uncertainties of starting school full time.

It’s turned out to be all right – most of the time. I feel like I can make the lunches for less than I pay for school lunch, especially because we usually have all the items for a home lunch on hand. And I LOVE writing my boys love notes and sneaking them inside their lunch bags.

But I felt like this time I needed to let my son know that I couldn’t drop everything just because his tummy didn’t feel like that day’s menu.

How did the chicken strips turn out? It sounds like they were delicious. When my son got home and I asked him about it he said, “Actually they must have been catered today because they were really good.”

For the record I don’t think the school “caters” their chicken strips. But I’m glad he liked them and I’m glad he didn’t starve during lunch recess.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jaclyn
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 08:33:43

    Catered! Ha! Oh my! That’s hilarious! It’s funny how our kids can survive such a day of no home lunch. 😉 Ethan has always had a home lunch. When Elizabeth was in 3rd grade she all of a sudden refused to eat school lunch. Every day I make it. Most of the time I actually like it this way and prefer it. Every once in a while (like 4 times a year maybe) I don’t have time to make them a lunch and they are “forced” to eat school lunch. But oh how guilty I feel for missing a day or two! My kids must know I feel like this because they totally play to it and make me feel worse! Funny thing though, when they get home they say it was good, or at least that some of it was okay. Ha! My mom paid for school lunch all of my years and I rarely ate it and if I did eat it, it was only a little (like the cookie). A big waste of money for her, not healthy for me. Which is probably why I’m so willing to make my kids’ lunch today. I think I got home lunch maybe 4 times out of all my school years, I ALWAYS ate it ALL.


    • Natalie
      Nov 14, 2013 @ 11:41:30

      You make them every day? You are an awesome mom – even if you miss a few times each year 🙂 Do your kids eat all of their home lunches? Sometimes I find a string cheese or gogurt left in the boys’ bags. That annoys me. What are your favorite things to put in there?

      Surprisingly the boys like several of the school lunches. I am really grateful for that because some days I just don’t have time to make a lunch. Maybe I should start getting up earlier 🙂


  2. Elise
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 10:07:58

    I’ve never felt guilty about saying “no” to making home lunch when they ask for it last minute like that, or even any time the morning of, for that matter. But I do sometimes feel guilty that I don’t make them more often for my kids – they seem to like them a lot, but I’m lucky to make them once a week or so. I really like your idea of looking over the lunch menu in advance and having the kids help decide which days to have home lunch. I think I’m going to have to try it!


    • Natalie
      Nov 14, 2013 @ 11:37:57

      Thanks Elise. For the most part going over the menu ahead of time really works for us. It helps me to know which mornings I need to hurry a little faster in order to make a lunch in time 🙂


  3. Elise
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 10:09:24

    I grew up never having home lunch, but that was because my family was “poor” for how many kids we had so we got reduced or free lunch the whole time I was in school, so it was much cheaper for my mom. Besides, she worked, so it was even harder for her to get them ready. I totally understand not being a morning person! That’s usually my biggest drawback from making their lunches!


  4. Trackback: Starving | Boogers on the Wall

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