In 8th grade, my son was assigned to a class called “Family and Consumer Science.” This class is, basically, Home Ec, and it irritates me that it is called “Family and Consumer Science” in the way that it irritates me that English is now called “Language Arts.” But that’s a me thing, and not at all the point of this article.
The point is that I am not at all the kind of Mom who is going to buy a Bento Box and artfully arrange in-season fruits and vegetables to look like Disney characters for my kids’ lunches. They are lucky if we have a not-expired-for-long Lunchables in the fridge, or if they have money on their lunch accounts. What? You mean I can put $100.00 on their account in the beginning of the year and then not worry about it for a long while? Sign me up.
But then Jacob took Home Ec. Every time any food gets eaten or purchased, we get a lecture about trans fats. I’ve only met Ms. Traylor, the home ec teacher, maybe once or twice in my life, but I hear her name almost every day. “Ms. Traylor says if you put Ranch on your salad, it’s basically like eating dessert.” “Ms. Traylor says we have to buy whole wheat flour.” Jacob will walk down the junk food aisles in the grocery store shaking his head sadly. “Ms. Traylor got in my head,” he admits.
Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. I am aware of the benefits of good nutrition. I know from experience, for example, that if I go to a street festival and eat a funnel cake and some fried Oreos for lunch, and then go to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, there’s going to be fire in my belly for a little while. I try, with varied success, to keep fresh fruit on hand at all times, and to serve a vegetable with every meal. (“Ms. Traylor says that canned vegetables have too much sodium and don’t have very many vitamins.” Ms. Traylor can come to my house and cook, then, can’t she?)
So, with a snippy 14-year-old in my house who insists on reading every label and who is convinced that school lunches are a government plot to make everyone diabetic and obese; and with my abject inability to a) wake up early enough to make him lunch, b) have the wherewithal to make it the night before, or c) keep enough supplies on hand for him to make it himself, we have a real problem.
Plus, I feel bad for the kid. He’s 14. He wants to eat loads of crap. He lives in my house – he knows that junk food is comfort food. But every time he tries, he gives himself a guilt trip. So I’ve looked long and hard for something he can eat that isn’t “kale chips, now with extra gag reflex.” Most health food tastes like, well, health food. Also, it can be insanely expensive. Jacob’s a peanut kid, and I’m allergic to soy making everything that much more difficult.
Popcorn works, most of the time, but it isn’t terribly portable due to the crush factor, and gets stale in about 23 seconds. I think we finally found our snack food home in Honchos, which are a whole lot like Doritos, only you can pronounce every single one of the ingredients, another one of Ms. Traylor’s strict rules. I like the Nacho Cheese, because, well, cheese. [An aside, what exactly is a ‘nacho’? Is it an adjective that modifies cheese? What makes cheese ‘nacho’ other than being on a chip?] Jacob likes the Peach Habanero, mainly because he likes everything that is slightly off center and he likes the little warm buzz you get on your tongue about fifteen seconds after you swallow it. And, I can find them at Kroger, another bonus.
I still look in amazement at the lunches on Pinterest, and I wonder if anyone in the history of ever has actually pulled that sort of thing off on a regular basis. I also wonder if the child recipients of those things don’t try to trade their cauliflower poodles for a Ding Dong every time they can.
I’m realistic. I’d rather just give him a lunch he’ll eat.
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