And that was fine for a while. Every day, I quizzed him about what was for lunch and whether or not it was good, and how much he ate. He seemed pretty happy with the school lunches, and although they weren't terribly impressive in their creativity (chicken nuggets, pizza and nachos were the staples), it was all just fine. JUST. FINE.
Until it wasn't any more.
One day out of the blue, zj said "Mama, can I get a lunchbox?"
"Why do you need a lunchbox? You eat the school's lunches."
"Well, maybe I could, ya know, take my lunch some time?"
I asked a lot of pointed questions about WHY he wanted to take his lunch - Do you get to go first in line if you brought your lunch? Do you sit at a special table? Do you just want a cool lunchbox? Do some of your friends bring their lunch? - and mostly satisfied with his answers, I relented.
Spiderman lunchbox. Check. Toy Story thermos? Check. My never-ending desire to win at everything, even things that aren't competitions? Check.
So I researched, and by that I mean I got on Pinterest, came up with a dozen or so stinking cute, really impressive lunchbox ideas, and we were off. I made dinosaur shaped sandwiches with lettuce for grass and broccoli trees, turkey wraps with his name written in cheese, grapes carved into the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I did color days (all red foods! all green foods! all blue foods!), I did shapes (everything's a circle! everything's a square!), I wrote notes he couldn't really read on his napkins, and it was great.
The first couple of weeks, zj came home every day with an empty lunchbox, and I silently patted myself on the back for my wonderful lunches, all the while trying to come up with even more impressive ideas... I WOULD WIN AT LUNCH!!! I WOULD BE THE BEST MOM IN THE WHOLE KINDERGARTEN CLASS WITH MY PHINEAS & FERB SHAPED SANDWICHES!
One day last week, zj asked, kind of offhandedly, "Mama, can I have a wrap in my lunch tomorrow? Ya know, with turkey and honey mustard? Junior really likes those."
Ummm... what?!?! Why does it matter what Junior likes?
"Zj, do you always eat all your own lunch? Or do you share with the other kids?"
"Oh, we share. Sometimes we trade stuff." He seemed totally unconcerned that my head was blowing right off at that exact moment.
"So, last week when I stayed up late the day before Valentine's day cutting all your lunch into little bitty hearts and cut my finger while scalloping your tortilla hearts, did you share your lunch that day?"
"Oh yeah!!! Casey really LOVED all those hearts!"
Well, bully for Casey. The little lunch-stealing brat.
Further questioning on my part led me to believe that most of my most impressive efforts had been traded for things that I don't normally buy, like Lunchables, Twinkies and Little Debbie Cakes.
I guess that's just what kids do, right? Trade lunch? I told myself I would just have to get over it.
Fine. But no more fancy, labor intensive lunches here.
Next time, it's pb&j all the way.
And I may not even cut the crusts off.