This week two things that I have been doing regularly since about 1990 come to an end. Since 1990 I have been waking up early to get one or another of my children up and ready for school. I discovered early in in my time as a parent that if I got up earlier than my children I would be far pleasanter to them. If I was both waking up myself and trying to shepherd them out the door I would be mean and cranky. If I had a half hour or so to ingest a bit of caffeine and clear out some of the cobwebs from my head it was far more likely to get everyone out the door with no tears.
Mornings are a misery for my husband, so this part of the day with the kids became mine.One of my sons once described how pleasant it was to sleepily grunt across the breakfast table at one another.
The other task that is coming to an end this week is making lunch for my kids. I have been doing that since 1991 or 2. If your count the snacks packed for playground outings then you need to dial the calendar back to 1989. My oldest liked to travel with security food. The diaper bag was always well packed with meals, containers of lasagna left over from dinner, zip lock bags filled with fruit and cheese and crackers went with us where ever we went.
But lunch packed eaten not with me but with others began when my oldest was three. Her first requests for lunch was cold Maypo. I thought it seemed like a horrible choice but for her first week of school I packed a container of cold Maypo in her lunch box every day. I remembered the little girl from Paris who was a student in the day care that I worked at when I was in college, Mirabelle would bring "Un artichoke" in her lunch box along with a chunk of pretty cheese and a nice chunk of bread. My kid wanted Maypo.
The lunch menus varied over the years and by child. My older kids sometimes took soup or stew in a thermos. Some of my kids liked adventures and surprised in their lunches. Others liked a predictable lunch.
Sometimes my goal was to make my kids laugh as they opened their lunches. I recall faces drawn on oranges. There was a period when I was drawing sunglasses or crazy eyes on the animated fruit characters on the juice boxes because one of my daughter's friends found the eyes on the cartoon fruit terrifying.
There was the frozen food era with heated up pizza bagel;s and frozen blintzes. There was a fake meat period with soy bacon, soy salami and soy corn-dogs.
A friend recently expressed shock that I would still be making lunch for an 18 year old who was perfectly capable of making his own lunch. I have no doubt that my kid could make his own lunch. He is perfectly capable of making himself a meal. He often opts out of the family dinner and makes himself his own meal. But I know that there is something nice about opening a bag of food that someone has made for you...even if they were half asleep while assembling that meal.
There were errors. I traumatized one of my sons by mistakenly sending him to day care with my daughter's Barbie lunch box. There were lunches forgotten in backpacks for days or weeks or months.There were lunches that were left on the kitchen counter.
The last several years of lunch making have been dominated by bread and cheese.Dinner rolls and melted cheese, Home made pizza, melted cheese on pita, melted cheese on whole grain bread, melted cheese on bagels.
Friday is my last day making and packing lunch. It's been a long run.