school-lunch

This lunchbox is closed due to health violations

Aug. 8, 2011 at 7:00 AM ET

I am not a restaurant.  

Unfortunately, this is news to my three children, who daily submit their “orders” for school lunches.

Livi’s order? Turkey and white cheddar cheese on white bread.  No crust.  No mustard. No mayo: “TOTALLY PLAIN!” she specifies. 

Ben’s order? Ham and orange cheddar cheese.  No crust.  A “teeny tiny…NO, NOT THAT MUCH!” bit of mayonnaise. 

Izzy’s order? “Peanut butter and honey on whole wheat WITH the crust on” and “something interesting.”  I kid you not.  She has actually asked me to surprise her with something “interesting.”

It’s obvious why I hate making lunches.   

Believe me, I’ve tried to give them all the same (darn) thing made up of whatever I (bloody well) have in the fridge.   Sending them off to school with a loving (but firm) “You get what you get and you don’t get upset” attitude. 

 But they won’t have it.

The “kitchen’s” inability to get their order correct results in their lunches getting "sent back" – in the form of full, squashed lunchboxes - and crabby children complaining  they’re “STARVING” when I pick them up from school. 

When did packing lunches become so complicated?  When I was a girl my mother packed my Scooby Doo lunch box with potato chips, a thermos of juice and peanut butter and jelly with the crust still on.  And I ate it.  Every day. 

And as if I didn’t have enough on my proverbial plate…now I need to worry about climate control in my child’s Pokemon lunchbox?  The newly discovered “potential risks” to my children caused by a lack of proper refrigeration and packaging of ham sandwiches?  Are you kidding me?

Related story: 9 out of 10 preschoolers' lunches reach unsafe temperatures

What about the risk to my mental health at having to further complicate the lunchbox packing process?

It’s enough to push any mom over the edge.

And as I watch TV ad after TV ad for disposable containers, nut-free spreads and “fun-inducing” yogurt, it’s obvious that I’m not the only mom who’s trying to grasp that Holy Grail of Good Motherhood - an empty lunchbox.

With so many schools patrolling peanut butter, shunning pre-packaged foods and insisting on environmentally friendly lunch box “solutions,” packing lunches has become a minefield.  Peanut butter?  BAM!  Disposable sandwich bags? POW!  Bottled water?  KABOOM!!!!

Every morning, I try to cling to what’s left of my sanity as I pack three separate meals for three very demanding children.  I can’t imagine having to freeze, compile and clean three sets lunch ware every day so that my children can appreciate their food at proper temperature.   What’s next?  A letter grade from the health department on my child’s lunchbox? 

Of course, I’ll be eating my words if my children ever actually get food-poisoning from a lunch I packed them.  But by golly, if I do have to eat those words, I assure you they’ll be at room temperature. 

Sarah Maizes is the author of the new humor book, “Got Milf? The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan,” and the founder of www.MommyLiteOnline.com, a parenting humor site.  She writes for Los Angeles Magazine, The Huffington Post, and many other parenting outlets.

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