The Call That No One Wants to Get

It hasn’t happened yet this year, but it will. It’s inevitable. One day, the call will come, and anyone who has ever sent a kid to school dreads it.

“Mom! I forgot my lunch!”

When I was working full-time, this kind of call was nothing more than a nuisance. I was at work. I couldn’t drop everything and spend an hour picking up a sack lunch. I could authorize the school secretary to let the kid get a tray from the cafeteria. Child got to eat and I enjoyed an evening of lecturing said child on the importance of responsibility. Win-win.

It’s not fun anymore. I am at home most days, and since I’m within walking distance of one school and only a five minute drive from the other, I’m expected to deliver the goods. I don’t mind taking a lunch to my offspring. They don’t forget often. Here’s the problem. They hang up before I can ask “Hey! Which kid are you?!”

Even if I had time to ask, I don’t want to. Whose heart will I break? Is it more insulting for a 15 year old girl to learn that she sounds like her brother, or for a 10 year old boy to know he could pass for his sister? I don’t want to find out.

I could call the school secretary back, I suppose. I could ask her (I say “her” not because I am gender-biased and believe that secretaries are always be female and should be chased around the desk by the Boss-man, but because the secretaries in question both happen to be women. So there.) if my kid just called. But there are over a thousand kids in one school, and the chances that the secretary could actually pick my loin-fruit out of a crowd are fairly slim. So my only recourse is to check the lunch itself.

I don’t pack the kids’ lunches. By the time they were in the first grade, I figured they had the wherewithal to put food in containers, containers in bag, bag in backpack. I spot check to make sure they don’t have a dozen donuts and a light beer, but they generally do a good job. But they like the same things, so their lunches are usually identical.

Last year, I got lucky. Saltine crackers were apparently the hot currency in third grade. My son would religiously pack five saltines each day, which he managed to trade for anything from brownies to bags of potato chips. If the lunch on the counter contained saltines, I knew its recipient. ***

This year, all bets are off. There is a no-swap policy in place, so the Padawan only packs what he is actually going to eat. The very same things that his sister eats. I hate that. Now I’m forced to a decision. Do I buy different things for each lunch, or do I admit to my son that he sounds like his sister? There’s no easy answer. In parenting, there rarely are.

I’d have been queen of the lunchroom with a box of these. Oh, to be 10 again, when donuts had the power to change lives.

***I’m sure I should be horrified that he was swapping his food. Another parent out there was under the impression that their child was getting full nutritional value out of that bag of Doritos.

46 thoughts on “The Call That No One Wants to Get

  1. Can you get them different, reusable lunch boxes? Say, one with Spiderman and one with Iron Man? Then if you see Spiderman at home, you know who forgot his or her lunch. But this requires the kid also remembering to bring the lunch box home. Something that I forgot to do a lot growing up.

    • Or, if they won’t remember their lunch boxes, you can have them decorate the brown paper bags they take their lunches in with stickers or something (assuming they use brown paper bags). Or different napkins with favorite characters?

      (I’d much rather think of solutions to solve this problem then write my appellate brief…can you tell?)

      • ah, wait, so can the food containers themselves be different?

        (I apologize. I’m going through a lot right now. I find focusing on this issue to be very relaxing for me.)

  2. Oh, that’s an awful phase for boys – the “sounding like a girl” pre/cracking stage. I remember answering the phone and people would just start talking because I was, vocally, a dead-ringer for my mother.

  3. Two of my kids sound exactly alike as well… despite being different genders! If it were me I’d just show up, drop the lunch off with a scribbled first initial and a clearly written last name, and then rush off. Most likely, your kid will have to walk back to the office to claim it anyway.

    And then have a talk about phone etiquette, and say it’s only polite to identify yourself. See, you’ll still get to give a lecture… Ha!

  4. My mother used brown paper bags, and put an initial on them. However, it didn’t mean we took the one with the correct initial. You may have to prepare and deliver two extra lunches.

  5. BC: I don’t miss those times, I must admit. It is good to be old. Ha! But the forgotten lunch boxes do make for a delightful story. Carry on into the new year and may the Force be with you in lunchbox discernment. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Different Schools of Parenting « Clarissa's Blog

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