Round 2: “It’s not about the food”

September 14,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

We’re about three weeks into the school year and R is falling back into the routine of not eating a great lunch during school days.  But I am calmer, and trying not to lose any sleep over the fact that when R comes home, it is 50-50 whether his lunchbox is only half-eaten or not.  In fact, last week I had a moment where I decided to just let it go and work itself out...why?  I think my dad’s words sum it up best:

“It’s not about the food.”

R eats a fabulous, filling, nutritious breakfast.  Lunch, hmm...not so much.  But after school he gets an enormous snack, something we’ve begun calling snack smorgasbord, since I give him lots of tastes of healthy foods with a few snacks too.  Then at dinner, he eats great again.  All this to write, “it’s not about the food.”

I think I spent most of R’s first year of eating lunch at school racking my brain, trying to discover what combination of foods would consistently be eaten well.  In other words, making it “all about the food.”  While this racking did create some good discoveries, it didn’t solve the fundamental issue of inconsistent lunchtime eating.  In the end, lunch was always a toss-up.

When school started again this year, despite cognitively knowing how school lunch played out last year, it was still a mini-shock to my system to relive the lunch box routine.  But I quickly decided I could either continue my own personal stress over the situation or take steps to help solve the issues of the lunchtime chaos at my son’s school while simultaneously accepting the facts:  no matter what I packed in his lunchbox, I couldn’t guarantee lunchtime success.

Again, “it’s not about the food.”  Like so many students, R gets distracted at lunch with all the fun, noise and the fact that the only thing standing between him and the playground is being “done” with his meal.  While I love, love, love R’s school, I am not enamored with the fact that the 1st and 2nd graders can run out to recess as soon as they claim to be done.  As I think on how to best approach the school about this issue without being labeled “that mom,” I am letting myself and R have a break from the stress of “why didn’t you eat your lunch?”

Since if I think R had the insight to step back and access the issue from an adult perspective he would say, “Mom, it’s not about the food!”

Life is sweet,