Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eating for the Common Good

Popular lunchbox sandwich (archaic)
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are no longer a staple lunchbox treat because little Appolo or Lemon Sky might be allergic. This tragic news has plummeted me into a pit of despair. What is childhood about these days? Saving the planet via no plastic baggies, no plastic bottles, no juice boxes and composting leftovers. No trades because one kid's treat is another one's poison. Fruits and veggies, even sushi rolls, have replaced candy in lunch boxes. Yikes--just when they need it the most, trapped in the classroom all day, strapped into a teeny desk learning boring facts they don't care about and will forget asap--who couldn't use a KitKat bar under those circumstances?

An article in today's Wall Street Journal runs the following headline above the masthead, in large white letters on a black background:


What could it be, I wondered: The last meal of a tot convicted of murder and about to be executed? Or maybe for a sick child having a feeding tube installed? Nothing so dire, it turns out it's the ordinary brown bag lunch for grade-schoolers that has today's young parents in a tizzy. One loving mom even goes so far as to declare, "I pack my son a lunch every day and I hate it." (How nice--I certainly hope he forgets that comment by the time she's in diapers and needing someone to spoon-feed her Ensure.)

It was 20 years ago, but the memory is fresh: I loved making my kid's lunch. Little notes, some surprises, drawings with Xs and Os all over the place. Healthy of course, but always with a special treat. And my husband still talks about the lunches his mom made every day, and twice, since he's a twin: each item wrapped in tin foil so he never knew what he had, a veritable treasure hunt each noon that he looked forward to. Of course today he might be suspended for all that tin foil, and his mom's blatant disregard for the rest of the world would be the talk of the town.

Sad times we live in.

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