Tuesday, 27 April 2010

competitive parenting & the art of lunchboxes

It's fair to say things have been a bit slack domestically of late, given how distracted I've been by the election: slack enough to induce some irrational pangs of guilt. I've fallen, in short, into the competitive lunchbox trap.
Three days a week my son goes to a childminder, which means three packed lunches to make. I used to be fairly inventive about these but lately it's been done on autopilot: sandwich, yoghurt, fruit, zzz....
So this week I resolved guiltily to be more adventurous, cultivate his inner gourmet, all that. The result? Today's offering - a smugly healthy, deeply labour intensive Annabel Karmel-ish thing - was rejected point blank on the grounds that 'it tastes of chairs', apparently
There are two lessons, I think, here:
1. You can overdo this motherhood thing. Other mothers might occasionally be impressed (or more likely irritated) by uberparenting, but your own child will usually be utterly unmoved.
2. Don't knock a cheese sandwich.


  1. it tastes of chairs - brilliant! That's hilarious. You can always rely on a child to point out any naked emperors that happen to be walking around!

  2. I completely agree. When I think about my own eating habits, I'm stuck in a complete rut and I like it. Porridge for breakfast every day without fail, baked potato with cottage cheese for lunch at least two days a week. OK I do vary dinner occasionally but lasagne features quite regularly, I can make it in my sleep. So why shouldn't our children like the feeling of knowing what's coming and the security of the same dish every lunchtime? Plus, it's hard work for the brain to think of something exceptional every morning. I was going to type something rude about Annabel Karmel but I won't, I'm above that:)

    Now competitive cake baking for the summer fair, I buy into that one every time. If mine isn't the highest priced victoria sponge again this year, I'll be really miffed.

  3. An Innocent smoothie should cover most bases and I am the only grown adult to love children's party food circa 1976 - cheese sandwiches & sausage rolls etc...? A packet of raisins too - I've been on the snack trail too long....x

  4. My sons have exactly the same lunchbox at preschool four days a week - salami sandwich, strawberries and an apple or banana. If I make the slightest tweak to this formula, they refuse to eat it.

  5. but don't change the cheese. i did that today. result: uneaten sandwich. (unless it was the boxful of grapes scoffed beforehand....)

  6. If you really want to feel inadequate about lunch boxes, check out Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, Goop, this week. I could weep:
    Saw your Grazia article. A very interesting read. It's not often I see articles describing your (and my, and many women's) situation. Good luck with it all, and there's nothing wrong with a good old cheese and ham sandwich in a lunchbox! Louise

  7. Just found you via your grazia article, which I totally relate to - how refreshing to read here that your lunchbox traumas are just like mine ;o) But at least you have fruit in yours - my two-year old bites an apple, then comes up to me and spits the peel into my hand, which I obligingly collect in a tissue before throwing away.... not very uberparenty! Lucy

  8. My Daughter isn't at the lunch box stage yet at 2 yrs old but is very fussy! like the previous comment but with tangerine pieces she will suck out the insides and pass me the skins :) I've found when I've gone to a lot of effort cooking her something healthy and nutritious, it will get left or thrown on the floor. Stick to the same simple old things and she's fine. At least I'm not the only one! :)

  9. Oh Lord, I just looked at the Goop site - homemade vegetable sushi? for toddlers?
    Not sure if she's still doing it Louise but there was a Vanity Fair hack blogging about trying to live her life by the Rules of Goop for a month which you might like (I dont think she did) http://bit.ly/9G8Q4A
    Hello craftinginthebeachhut (I wish I was right now) - glad you enjoyed the Grazia piece. My son does eat apples but only ever half of them. The bitten half is then carefully replaced in the fruit bowl for unsuspecting guests. Niiice.

  10. I've heard of a child turning up to school with a lunchbox containing just a raw onion.

    So a sandwich is raising the bar, as far as I can see.