The Catastrophe Known as Packing Your Kids a Lunch for School – A True Story of a Dad Trying to Help When Mom is the Expert

Have you ever asked your kids what they wanted for lunch tomorrow and had the response “I don’t know, just not what I had today?” There’s no suggestion, no thought, just nothing that you plan on packing. Maybe you’ve been in this same scenario, but let me add even more complexity to it… Dad packing lunch for the kids! That’s right, I tried and it didn’t work quite like I thought it would.

School 2016-2017

So we’re back in school so it’s time to get everyone on the same page to get going. I’m a helpful kind of guy, so one day I thought I would be helpful and take care of getting the kids ready for my amazing wife. Little did I know there is an unwritten owner’s manual to packing lunch! Oh, and it’s only written in “Mom Language” that most Dad’s don’t understand anyway. Or they threw the manual away when they were putting something together because that’s what we do when we tackle a project, instinct.

Great, so I found the two lunch boxes I need to pack. On a side note, they’re not the industrial grade aluminum boxes we had when I was a kid. Lunch boxes today are fully insulated with pockets for ice packs and a specific place for a water bottle. Don’t kid yourself, I did manage to unzip them without fail.

Fantastic, now what are you going to eat? Sandwich, good we have bread, peanut butter, jelly, ham, etc. I’m on a roll now!

First of all, you have to pack a lunch that the kids will actually eat. Not something that you will eat and hope they will eat. We’re not talking about throwing in PB&J and calling it a day if your kid doesn’t like it. They actually need sustenance for survival in school. Kids are so picky these days!

Here’s where it gets crazy:

Step 1:

I think I’ve got it covered, except that my kids don’t like PB&J. One of them only eats ham sandwiches with barbecue sauce, but guess what, yep, we’re out of BBQ. I’m pretty crafty, though, and they’re still asleep so free reign without complaint is mine. Let’s shake their world up a bit.

To make this interesting I get a Black Sharpie marker and write “I Double Dare You to Try Something New Today” on the outside of a ziplock bag with the PB&J. This will be a good challenge and maybe, just maybe my son will love it. What’s the worst that could happen, he doesn’t like it?

Without BBQ sauce is going to be interesting. Wait a minute I know there’s another type of mayo we have he likes, so a new flavor he gets. Sure, maybe he’s going to expect BBQ on his sandwich and gets mayo, but a little variety doesn’t hurt.

Step 2:

I’m a good parent and think they should have a veggie in their lunch. Celery and Peanut Butter got it. One of them likes crunchy, but which one? Well, I have a 50/50 chance of getting this one right. Just in case I’ll give one carrots & ranch and celery for the other. Trying to cover my bases here.

A fruit would be good. They both like strawberries so I can get a win for this one!

Step 3:

What’s this smoothie substance in the fridge for? It says strawberry, banana smoothie and “organic” so that must be good for them. It’s in a cool looking tube of excitement that they said “Sure we’ll eat it” when we were buying it at the store. Kind of like a dessert so why not?

Note to self: Dad always has to eat the stuff that kids promise to eat and never do.

Step 4:

Snacktime. Today’s kids get a snack in the afternoon as long as it’s not Red Bull or Candy so there goes my first option. Not sure why it’s such a big deal to get them hopped up for the teacher, but I can live with it. Fish Crackers are always a safe bet.

Wait a minute, one likes colorful fish crackers and the other one likes plain orange fish crackers. Are you kidding me! They’re fish crackers for crying out loud. Again, a 50/50 shot at getting them in the right bag, so here we go.

Step 5:

Add a drink to the lunch box but make sure they have their favorite thermos for each one. I have no idea who’s is who on this one, but they’re both superheroes so you would think I could handle this. (The Jurassic World one was hiding in the cupboard of course!)

So after completing all 5 steps and successfully getting them in their backpacks for the day I head off to my job wondering just how happy they will be with their selections at lunch time. I’m feeling pretty adventurous and excited about how well I’ve done!

Now, for the rest of the story…

I had the pleasure of picking them up from school today. Before they even let the door close behind them after their teacher delivered them to my pickup in carline the onslaught begins:

  • “Seriously, Dad! Of all the days you try something new, today I was starving! I did like the Double Dare Sandwich though and gave it 5 bites”
  • “What were you thinking! Have you ever expected BBQ sauce and had mayo instead?”
  • “Dad I like creamy peanut butter, not crunchy”
  • “Kamden uses the Super Hero thermos, Dad. I get the Jurassic World one.”
  • “You didn’t pack us a snack! All the other kids had one, but I didn’t” (for the record I put it in the wrong pocket in their backpack)
  • “What was that Smoothie stuff? You’ll probably have to finish those off for us Dad.”

Other than completely missing the mark on making lunches for the day, I think I did pretty well! They had something to eat for lunch, even if they didn’t like it that much. I got a smile out of the experience and maybe, just maybe, learned a little about what I should pack next time.

Here’s the point: There’s no replacement for all the wonderful things Moms do!

Mom knows what to pack when to dry their tears, when it’s time to snuggle, when a kind voice is needed, and how to pack a lunch for the kids. They know when the right time to listen is, how to get everyone to settle down for bed when to get to the birthday party, who the right kids are to talk to, and what events we have to go to at night. They know how to talk the teacher, what a parent team is and what we can bring to school for birthday parties to not upset someone’s food allergy. That’s only a few of the amazing things we need in Mom.

Dads are good for a different set of things like wrestling together, pushing a swing higher, fishing, pulling a tooth, skipping baths, and the occasional carline pickup when instructed by Mom.

To all the wonderful Moms out there, Thank You! Thank you for keeping our families organized, running, and together. You’re the glue that makes it all stick together. You know just what to do, when Dad’s, well we’re going to take a problem solving, direct path.

I’m especially thankful for my amazing wife! Every day she amazes me with all that she does for us. I’m so blessed for having her in our lives!

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25

Forward this on if you need to share a little humor and thanks to the amazing Mom in your family.