The Lunch Box

I'm in trouble.

The boy is three and I'm already the lame mom. Behind the times. Out of it.

Thank God for friends or my next step could be Keds and Mom Jeans.

Monday was Poops' first day of summer camp at his school. It goes about 5 hours, Monday through Friday for the next four weeks.

I knowwwww. Pretty much all day. Which means lunchtime included. I've never done that before. This is a whole new world for me. Er, him.

So last night, I was all excited making his lunch for his very first day of lunch away from home. I made him a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cut it out into a heart shape (I know, that one was lame, but the truck and train shapes were stuffed away in a box in a closet, I'll do that for Tuesday), put some cheddar rice cakes in a Ziploc, and stuffed them along with a Capri Sun and a box of raisins (all of which I can still get away with because he still loves them and plus he's too young to know about Hostess Cupcakes and the concept of trading up...) into a brown bag with his name proudly written on the front with a Sharpie.

He's three. Who cares how his lunch is carried as long as he has treats inside? Which is what I thought and exactlyprecisely what he thought when I explained this concept of lunch to him and even made him practice opening up a Ziploc bag so he could eat independently of teacherhelp. And all he could think about were the "cheese puffs" in the bag as he went out the door and into his classroom. He thought that all day. Until lunch.

When the other kids didn't have brown bags. And I am pretty sure I was informed of this while my son was learning the same exact lesson. I was on the phone with my best friend around lunchtime, talking about Poops being in camp and she asked me if they did lunch there.

Me: Yep!
Her: What kind of lunchbox does he have?
Me: None. Brown bag. (Very matter of factly, by the way.)
Her: No one does brown bags.


Really? It starts already? I thought I had at least two years left! So I briefly considered keeping the brown bag just for the point of it. But I had this nagging feeling and well anyway, I found myself headed out to Target where I found me him a very cute Spiderman lunchbox (and by the way, lunchboxes have completely changed since my day. Where is the thermos?). Ps. it was either Spiderman or Transformers because they have nearly nothing out until probably, oh, next week when they'll have the school shopping extravaganza coming out. And since he doesn't know what a Transformer is and only barely knows who Spiderman is, we went with Spiderman.

So I had it in the car when I went to go pick him up. It was going to be a surprise. Although I was still pretty sure at that point that he wasn't going to know the difference anyway.


I was the first in car line to pick him up (of course -- first day and all) and the teacher was frantic. "We couldn't find his lunchbox!" she said in her panicky voice as she was leading him to the car.

"Oh, it was a brown bag, he didn't have one," I said, (matter of factly -- again.)

"Oh." (Some sort of weird look.) "OK. Bye!" she says and rushes off to load up another kid.

Meantime, here it comes. The chorus begins. The idea of the lunchbox has been introduced. And now there is a Poops yelling and crying, "WHERE'S MY UNCHBOX! WHERE'S MY UNCHBOX! MYYYYYY UNCHBOX!!!" (no L's yet.) over and over and over. Because his teacher was looking for a lunchbox and now he thinks he has a lunchbox and we're leaving without it- not that he even knows what a lunchbox is. I finally get a word in edgewise and say, "Honey, you don't have a lunchbox, remember? We had your lunch in a brown bag..." Feeling like an idiot mom right about now and trying to change the subject.

Darn brown bag. You're killing me here.

So I let it all die down on the way home. How was school? Where's my unchbox! Did you learn anything? I want my unchbox! Very productive after school chatter. I still don't really know how the day went. After all, pickup time was an hour and a half after naptime in our house normally was supposed to start and I was really interested in how that was all going to play out anyway and I was pretty much right on. Deliriousness, inability to focus or reason, crying, anger, the idea of a missing "unchbox..."

So then there's a nice long nap and a much happier little boy on the flip side with a snack and a drink sitting on the couch watching Curious George and I think, this is the perfect time to present him with his new lunchbox!

So I bust it out. I say, "I have a surprise for you!" And he says, "Is it chocate?" And I say, "No, it's not chocolate." And he says, "Is it a snack?" He's obsessed with snacks. And I say, "Nope!" And I hand it to him and say, "It's a LUNCHBOX!"

And I am so proud.

And the smile that appeared on that tiny three-year-old face, followed by the, "Woooooooo!!!! Thank you Mommy Thank you!! OOK IT!! IT'S PIDERMAN!" (Without the L or the S). And my eyes start to well up because this is my little boy's very first lunchbox and it was such a sincere thank you from a big three-year-old heart and I just melted. Thank God my best friend I thought of this.

I remember my first lunchbox. It was a Strawberry Shortcake. I don't know if he'll remember his first lunchbox, but I certainly will.

Then he finished this wonderful moment as I was watching him zipping it and unzipping it by repeating one of Mommy's mantras. "How cool is that!"

I love it. Boy that was close.

So the new "unchbox" was the hit of the evening. He took his new "unchbox" to gymnastics and held it tight in the car all the way home and that's all he talked about for the rest of the day. Questioning me about how long he was going to have to wait for the next meal that would be served in the lunchbox. Could I put dinner in his "unchbox"? "No, honey, grilled chicken doesn't work very well in the lunchbox, I'll pack lunch in it for camp tomorrow."

Oh what a day. A new lesson about patience for him. A new lesson about coolness for me.

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  1. I honestly wouldn't worry about trying to fit in with your kids. The only thing me and my four yr old share is a love of World of Warcraft. LOL Maybe one day he'll be a geek like me but who knows.

  2. Too funny! I remember hating lunchboxes and being so cool with a brown lunchbag - which my Mom hated since it was "wasteful."

  3. For you

  4. I had totally forgotten that too.

    I loved me some brownbagggin' when I was younger.

    forgot that Id perceived that as the ultimate in cool :)

  5. OMGoodness! LOL!

    I, too, would have gone with the brown bag or one of the many insulated lunch bags my husband has brought home with a drug name on it (imagine how that would have gone over).

    Thanks for the "heads up"...but I wonder what the trend will be in a couple of years when I finally send Josiah to school/camp.

    PS. I think I, too, had a strawberry shortcake lunchbox...metal box WITH thermos. *wink* And Poop's had a zipper on his?

  6. The thing with the nifty new lunch boxes is that when they start carrying them for lunch at school and you put something like ranch dressing in a small container for them to dip carrots in and they don't put the lid back on the container and it leaks all over said lunch box, there is no way to get it really clean. It's that "material" that just doesn't wipe down well. The lunch box is kind of a pain.
    And BOO to the teacher for acting like a brown bag is passe.
    Welcome to todays world. It's like this with just about everything (hence the reason my seven year old finally got a DS this year) and is asking for one of those winter coats with the spider (spyder?) on the back. Apparently the one I got him at Wal-Mart just isn't cool enough ;)

  7. my first was a metal Annie lunch box. :)

    very cool that he now has one and won't be the brown bag pitiful kid at school :P

  8. How funny, who knew a lunch box was such a big deal for 3 year olds?? I had no clue. So I am happy to be prepared when the day comes. I don't think I ever had a lunch box, I always ate at the cafeteria, ha ha.

  9. My first lunch box was Care Bears. A metal one. And they don't come with a thermos anymore? What is the world coming to?

  10. Oh I remember my Carebears lunchbox! With my thermos! They really don't make lunchboxes the same anymore, it's all very sad.

    We bought Elliot his first backpack the other day. He'd said to us over the weekend 'maybe one day, when I'm a big boy, I can have a big boy backpack' in this really sad voice. We caved. It has Thomas the Tank Engine on it. He carries that thing EVERYWHERE.

  11. This was the cutest story EVER! Really Christie, it touched my heart and made me see the beauty of parenthood just for a second. Your baby is growing up! This story also made me remember my childhood and my mom sending me off to school with a brown-bag until I decided I wanted a Partridge Family lunchbox! I bet I could get some serious cash for it had I have kept it!


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