For us, this week is the start of school. We say goodbye to easier days, later bedtimes, no homework, and pajamas in the day for as long as we want. We begin Girl Guides, soccer practices, dance classes, run club and PAC meetings. We start up the dreaded, 9-month-long relationship with baby carrots.
It’s time to start making school lunches again. Baby carrots seem to be a staple of this. They are small, easy to digest, and pack (no pun intended) a bit of a crunch. Versatile, they contain good vitamin A/beta-kerotene for young eyes watching chalkboards and screens, and add a bit of color to the usual brown bag whites and browns.
Packing a lunch for a kid is hard to do. It’s not the doing; it’s the challenge of packing a balanced meal without repeating the same meal over and over. Kids are easily distracted and stimulus takes priority over eating, much like taste takes priority over hunger. My kids are certainly prone to this. A whole lunch can come home and they will be in a blood-sugar vortex, whining and cranky – all because they haven’t eaten since the 10 AM snack. And for the snack, they ate cookies.
Seeing the baby carrots in the grocery store instills a little panic in me. When the school year is over and the staple is no longer part of my grocery repertoire I wean myself off adding them to my grocery cart. I learn to ignore them. By August I can go to the grocery store and not even see them. That reprieve is like a little bit of heaven.
But now, it’s time to go back to the routine and get the carrots into rotation again. It’s a filler food; it’s rabbit food. My kids prefer cucumbers and peppers and peas and kohl rabbi, but carrots are always added to the mix. It’s marking the change of season, like buying the turkey for Thanksgiving but without all the anticipation.
My kids are excited about going back to school; they are not thinking about lunches. I’ve asked them what they would like to have in their lunches. Generally they say they don’t know. When I make suggestions, they are quick to tell me that those are things they certainly don’t want.
I tried to encourage my daughter to be more independent and make her own choices; part of this was making her own lunch. She packed pretty much what I usually pack her, and included baby carrots. I didn’t want to dissuade her from this as anything she did was more than nothing and I definitely saw this as behavior to encourage.
When I unpacked her lunch one afternoon it was all eaten – except for the carrots. I asked why she hadn’t eaten them. There are usually a few answers to this question: too full, no time, didn’t like them. This time she said she was ‘saving them for tomorrow.’ I suggested that she could have eaten them today and have fresh carrots tomorrow. She replied that tomorrow her class was getting a pet rabbit in the classroom so she was saving her carrots for him. At least she knows how to share.