Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Now, what’s for lunch?
Vail, CO, Colorado
The kids are back in school. Did I just hear a gentle roar of “Finally!” from the parents?
Summer break is fabulous and frustrating all at once. The freedom, the lack of schedule and open possibilities are what summer are all about. However, it’s the freedom, the lack of schedule and the open possibilities that drive everyone crazy by mid-August.
We need the routine of school. So we suffer through the school supply shopping, emptying out wallets onto the counter for our pencils and binders and notebooks, oh my! We order uniforms and go shopping for new shoes and other school clothes.
We go to ice cream socials and orientations to meet the teachers and find out what’s new. And then we send them off on that first day, not even caring that homework monitoring and massive, intricate projects are looming on the horizon, breathing a collective sigh of relief. Until we realize with a start, “Oh, crap! I forgot to pack lunches!”
Then that sense of doom settles in when we realize we have an entire school year ahead of school lunches. Oh, Lord! The dreaded school lunch! Never has an 8-by-6 insulated, handled bag stuck fear in the hearts of otherwise confident, capable adults like the lunch box.
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I don’t know why I let that prospect of packing lunches unhinge me so. I just get intimidated. I think I put too much importance on that single meal. Somewhere in my manic mother mind I fear that if my boys don’t eat a nutritionally well-balanced, satisfying midday meal, they will not succeed in school, they will flunk out and they will live at home with me until the day I die, perpetually unsatisfied with lunch.
So I stress out about what to put in their lunch boxes each day. What happened to the times when we were kids that Mom put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, a cookie and a Thermos full of milk in our little metal lunch box and called it good?
Hot lunch isn’t much of an option to alleviate my current problem. There’s the weekly eighth grade fundraiser pizza day for both of my boys that alleviates one day of mental anguish. And twice a week, my No. 1 has the option of a catered lunch, which is a far cry from the smelly mystery meat, overcooked vegetables and the tiny little carton of milk that always tasted funny that we were served back in the day.
However, that still leaves many days of lunches to fill. Small Boyne is still pretty easy to please. But No. 1 is another story. He doesn’t like sandwiches. Seriously, how is that I produced a child who doesn’t like sandwiches?
Come to find out, it’s bread he objects to more than what is in it, so we have a little leeway there. We’ve recently moved to wraps, which for the moment has solved a number of problems. But the day will come when he will grow tired of those as well, regardless of what we put in them. One would think there would be an infinite possibility of stuffing options, but one would be wrong.
Leftovers are a big hit with him as well. But now that the teenage-boy appetite has kicked in, I can’t seem to adjust my portions up enough to compensate for the volume of food going in at dinner and leave enough for the gigantic lunch that needs to be packed.
I Googled school lunch ideas and came up with some great options, but many of them require forethought, planning and extra work, all of which I have failed to do in the past. I have vowed that this will be the year of “doing it the night before,” so maybe I have a fighting chance.
Now, if I can just remember to go grocery shopping for all the parts.
Linda Stamper Boyne can be contacted through email@example.com.