Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

Can someone please explain to me the logic behind one store carrying the same character, made by the same brand, but in completely different styles and patterns? As in, why is there a Hello Kitty black and silver star backpack but only a hot pink with blue butterflies lunch box? Does that make any sense? I can’t have the only child in the world who wants everything to match, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to sell them by sets? Double the price, throw in a “bonus” reusable bottle and it would fly off the shelves. Fly!

And what the hell is going on with reusable bottles nowadays? Back in the day when I had to walk five miles to school, each way, barefoot, each tin lunchbox came with a thermos. The lunchboxes were probably pounded out by convicts at the local penitentiary for pennies an hour. The thermos took on the smell of anything you put it in and one bad milk day could ruin it forever. But they were cheap. Now, with plastic being completely verboten, all reusable bottles are made of hard metals. Steel, titanium, hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to find some made of kryptonite considering how much they freaking cost. My kids went to dance camp six days this summer. (Yes, the boy went and yes, he loved it, particularly the tap shoes. What boy doesn’t like making noise?) Anyway, while there, they managed to lose three different pieces of Tupperware. I buy it in bulk and I buy it cheap, so it was no great loss. But at $10 per metal bottle ($12 if it has a character), the only way I’m sending one to school with her is if I shackle it to her wrist, nuclear code style.

Once I do find non-poisonous bottles to go in her lunchbox (and thank God indeed for the Christmas Tree shop, proud purveyor of crap, nonsense, miscellaneous, off-brand, and unnecessary items for selling them at $2 a pop), I also have to find tree-hugging ways to send the food to school. To help save the environment, should I wrap her sandwiches in newspaper? Better make sure it isn’t the funnies as I don’t want to get in trouble for accidentally letting red ink into her food. Plus, what am I supposed to do with the metric ton of Disney brand plastic snack bags I already picked up to help make her lunch special? I like the idea of reusing the bags, but I also bought little motivational stickers to put on her lunch every day. I think she’ll notice if she gets the same one for a week. I doubt my mother had these problems. Then again, my mom probably sent me off to school with a bowie knife to hunt my own food.

On top of the sartorial and environmental concerns, I also have to focus on nutrition. This is my first year packing a daily lunch and snack. (Or, to give credit where credit is due, this is the first year her father will have to do it. Daddy does mornings.) Her occasional forays into after-care at preschool allowed me to focus on carb-loading to get her through the extended play day. She didn’t have to learn anything after 11:15, so I didn’t worry about making sure she had her essential food groups. Now, however, she needs a “healthy” snack for midmorning, her lunch, and I assume that as soon as she gets home, a second lunch because my child is nothing but Hobbit-like when it comes to meals. I anticipate much higher grocery bills come September. Luckily, my daughter loves fruit, carrot sticks, hummus, and whole wheat. Sure, she’ll cut your heart out with a spoon for bowl of ice cream or a bag of popcorn, but everyone has a vice. Many a night, the only reason my husband isn’t locked out of the house entirely is because he comes home bearing Rita’s mango water ice. Who am I to judge?

So, come fall, we’ll begin the next stage of our life – lunch at school. Biodegradable, environmentally-friendly, ecologically sound, and nutritiously delicious. I wonder if it might just be easier to give her a cardboard box to eat.

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