Brent Almond packs super awesome lunches for his preschool son, and it's not just about the food.
Every school morning for the past year and a half, the Maryland blogger and graphic designer takes a Sharpie or two (or three) to a Post-It Note and doodles an incredible cartoon message. He then tucks the note inside his son’s caped Superman lunch bag.
Almond drew his first lunch note for Jon, now 5, when the boy started preschool.
“It was a big day for us to send him off to school for the first time. I wanted to be there with him,” he told TODAY.com. “I say it was to give him comfort but it was just as much for me, as anything, just to know I was with him in a way.”
Almond, who posts each drawing to the Instagram account “SuperLunchNotes,” initially stuck with superhero-themed doodles to help deliver humorous, but instructional, messages.
When Almond drew a picture to match the caption, “Even the Avengers raise their hand," his son's teacher used it to help emphasize class rules for going to the bathroom or talking during class.
Almond initially thought he would stick with just superheroes, but that quickly changed when Jon's interests begin to stretch and he started adding Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Godzilla, Star Wars figures and others to the mix. Almond said part of why he continues to make the drawings is because of the bond the two share over superheroes. The drawings, he said, are “an extension of what I had been teaching him all along.”
“Look, I’m a graphic designer, and I knew that I would never be my son’s sports hero or teach him about fixing cars, but I do know a lot about superheroes and comic books,” he said.
Each sketch takes about 20-30 minutes and he only draws figures his son will recognize.
“I’ve never missed a day. If we’ve had a rough morning getting out of the house in time, and I haven’t done it done in time, I’ll bring it to him at (school) pick up, but that’s only happened a few times,” he said. "Sometimes I’ll do them the night before. Some are definitely a little rougher than others."
Almond draws his inspiration from his son, and what’s going on in life. When Jon lost a tooth over the weekend, his dad marked the occasion with a special drawing the next morning.
He also marks milestones like birthdays or holidays, such as the time he drew monsters and villains leading up to Halloween.
“A lot of it is just what he’s watching on TV or what he’s playing on the iPad. He’s really into Power Rangers right now because he takes tae kwon do, so he loves anything martial arts-related,” he said.
Initially, when Jon was too young to read, Almond's husband would read the notes to their son on the way to school, or the boy's teachers would read them at lunch. These days, Jon can read many of the notes by himself and will give some away to friends. Almond keeps the ones brought back home.
Although he gets a kick out of the attention his drawings have received, Almond said he never loses sight of who they are for.
“I draw and do social media for a living, so there’s an aspect of enjoying other people liking it and being able to share it, but in the morning, or when I do them at night, they’re always for him. I’m thinking about what he’s seeing on TV, what he likes, what’s going on in his life," he said, adding with a laugh: "It's also part of my continuing training of his super hero and pop culture knowledge."
He also gives credits to other parents before him who have drawn pictures on plastic sandwich bags or written notes on napkins. And while he enjoys the positive feedback he receives to his work on social media, he noted that a few comments have gone overboard.
“People tend to get gushy on the internet. Sometimes one will say, 'Oh you’re the best dad ever,'" he said. "I joke, my lunches are really lame, though.”
This article was originally published Mar. 23, 2015 at 4:49 p.m. ET.