Friday, April 15, 2016

The Last Lunch

Yesterday, I had one of those bittersweet parenting moments. (We're at "high school graduation minus eight weeks" now — I'm expecting a lot of these in my immediate future.) Yesterday, I did something for the last time. And, for a change, I actually realized it. All right, not right at that moment; it was about five minutes later, but still ...

Yesterday, I made my last school lunch.


Yesterday was my teenage daughter's final day of regular classes. We have April break next week, then she will only attend first-period AP Bio each day before heading off for her senior project internship.

Thus, the last lunch.

I repeat, "Whoa."

To put this in perspective, my daughter has been going to school full-time since she was three-going-on-four. If we think about 180 days per year for 15 years, minus maybe 10% for half-days, that's ...

Well, that's ...

Um, that's ...

That's a sh*tload of lunches.

Starting in preschool and all through elementary, middle and high, I dutifully packed a lunch more days than not. We went through many lunchboxes (Power Puff Girls, Brady Bunch, Nightmare Before Christmas, a personalized cooler-pack from L.L. Bean). The first few years, her lunch of choice revolved around a basic food group: the chicken nugget. Eventually, she was willing to bring sandwiches and wraps. A few years ago, she graduated to salads. 

Apparently, I made a mean lunch salad because she used to sell my salad services for $5 to some of her friends. It didn't make that big a difference to me, just had to chop extra lettuce and extra chicken breast, shell an extra handful of edamame, sprinkle some extra cheese, fill an extra container with extra vidalia onion dressing.

With all that "extra" work on my part, who do you think got the $5?

Here's a clue. Not me.

Nevertheless, like some of her other entrepreneurial efforts, the salad business quickly fell by the wayside.  

Making lunch has never been a particularly special part of my day, more like a mindless ritual. It takes about 20 minutes or so and I try to make each one creative and relatively healthy. In addition to the main course (be that one of my famous salads or a more pedestrian sandwich), I include fruit, a snack-size bag of something crunchy (and, I admit, decidedly un-healthy — like Cheese Puffs), a sports bottle of water, and a small treat. My daughter (like her lovin' mama) has a sweet tooth. I only recently discovered that in addition to the dessert I was giving her, she also bought cookies at the cafeteria. 

 So much for my relatively healthy lunches.

These cookies, allegedly "the only edible thing" they serve, are oversized, with chocolate chips or M&Ms. They cost $1.

Yesterday, my daughter treated herself to two of them.

After all, it was her last lunch.

If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.     

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