This is for Paula and Lara – Mother Support Coffee Pals of NOTE!

The first week back at school has been fabulous. Fabulously difficult, getting all the school gear and uniforms together before it started on Wednesday. And fabulously easy because there’s been no homework. No homework means that the Princes play soccer outside with their Dad before supper catching the day’s last sunny moments drenched in boy bonding sweat and tears. (There are way too many fouls.)

We’ve moved school, which has been heart wrenching, but ultimately what Prince No. 1 wanted (he literally wrote a list of all the pros and negatives of each school and handed it to us last year. So we had no choice but to look into the alternative school.) I love small, homely schools, but I’m learning that there’s an advantage to bigger schools as well. The parents and children have been so welcoming, which has made all the difference. We’ve been completely blessed. So anyone out there with new students in their children’s class, be friendly to the newbies, it goes a LONG way.

There are of course other challenges in moving schools, one of them is dealing with a child’s anxiety to fit in. Every child (and adult) deals with anxiety in different ways. Most children just want to fit in, be seen as just as ‘cool’ as their peers. The question is how far do we as parents give in. ‘Everyone has a Blackberry at school.’ ‘Everyone gets tuck shop money at least twice a week and Mr X gets it three times a week.’ ‘Everyone has a Walka.’ (I’ve just learnt what a DSTV Walka is – it’s a mini portable DSTV TV.) ‘Everyone gets chips, sweets and chocolate in their lunchbox.’

Recently I met a child who had every gizmo gadget, unlimited TV/electronic time and a hefty tuck account. This child was not rotten, bad mannered or unhappily climbing off the walls. No this child was well adjusted, polite, kind and very happy. It made me question myself. Why I spend so much time and energy being a fire breathing dragoneer  policing electronic time and sugar levels? Am I going to relax my rules? No. Although I freely admit that I’ve been humbled by this child, and I’m not sure that my parenting methods are that brilliant. (Can anyone ever be sure?)

What I do know is that I don’t want my kids having Blackberrys at school. (Although he has my old Blackberry now that I come to think of it…) I’m finding it hard to parentally navigate through our high tech electronic world. I want my Princes to have a naive childhood of playing ball, reading books and making things out of sticky tape and paper. (Even if it means sticky tape marks on the ceiling, which Prince No. 1 accomplished this week.)

I definitely don’t want them having a DSTV Walka, EVER. And I retain my right to take away their weekend TV time as a consequence for bad behavior. (As we did last Saturday night. We waltzed out on a date and came back to find the three Princes sitting on the floor building card houses that would make any OT proud. It’s amazing what they resort to when they’re bored!)

House of Cards - Boredom breeds creativity!

House of Cards – Boredom breeds creativity!

We told our Princely Prince that we don’t believe in Walkas or sweets in lunch boxes (besides the odd treat). We told our Prince that our job is to do what we think is best for him until he’s 18. I was so proud of my hubbie when he clearly said, ‘We don’t believe in it.’ And that was the end of the Walka/’everyone else has one’ conversation.

Even though Prince No. 1 hates it, I think one day he’ll look back and be so grateful and happy, that he learnt boundaries in life from an early age. That TV isn’t everything, that having what everyone else has doesn’t make you a better person, or like your self more. (By the way we consequently found out that ‘everyone has one’ = a tiny, minuscule percentage of the class.)

Now on to Lunch Box Blues:

I think every mother experiences Lunch Box Blues. Last year the question always was –

What the heck am I going to put in their lunchbox today? Inevitably I’d end up making the generic cheese sandwich, on ‘normal’ bread as the Princes call whole wheat bread (rebelling against my Low GI option), no tomato or butter. This year I am determined to do things differently.

I took my Princely Prince aside and asked him what he’d like in his lunchbox. Of course he said, ‘Chocolates, sweet sours and chips.’ I said, ‘Of course that’s what you’d like. Now what would you like in your lunch box?’ And we got down to business. We wrote a list of snacks, sandwiches and treats that he liked and then we made up a schedule which I am going to stick on the kitchen wall (…as soon as I create a spreadsheet. I’m lying, as soon as I give it to my spread sheet addicted husband to make for me. I never quite got spread sheets at school.)

I loved sitting with my Prince and coming up with his favourite foods. I have buy in and if he complains all I need to do is point to the list. So I recommend making a ‘lunch’ date with your child and making your own list. PLEASE, PLEASE post your lunch box ideas, send pics anything!!!! to give me and other moms more lunch box ideas.

Here’s my list:

Snacks

Fun Yummy Snacks

Fun Yummy Snacks

Popcorn

Chocolate muffin (healthy homemade – am still working on my perfect healthy recipe. My last batch flopped! Will post when it works out 🙂 )

Biltong

Fruit – naartjies, oranges, plums, litchis (Summer fruit makes it so easy)

Woolies Fruit roll ups

Chips

Woolies Rice Crackers – Chutney flavour

Veggies cut up – peppers, carrots, cucumbers in a container with feta cheese cubes and olives

Main Lunch

Monday – Cheese and Tomato sandwiches

Tuesday – Fry’s Vegetarian Sausages (I don’t personally think these are that healthy, but the Princes love them.)

Wednesday – Pizza or Pasta (homemade)

Thursday – Tuck

Friday – Tuna Mayo sandwich

This is a very basic outline. It makes school lunch predictable and it’s easy to fall back on when I draw a mindless blank. To be honest I won’t stick to it all the time, I’m not a stick to schedule all the time person. I do add the odd chocolate and treat in. I am reaching the conclusion that if a child sees a healthy home with balanced meals, chips and cake at school won’t kill them.

QUESTION – Are we spoiling our children investing so much time an energy into their lunch boxes? I remember getting the same Vegemite sandwich (stop saying ewwww. I like Vegemite.) at school every day, and a packet of chips, a piece of yummy home made marble cake, plus an apple. I never, ever touched the apple, gave away the cake and shared the chips. The most memorable lunch I ever had was a vegemite sandwich with jam. Inedible but funny. I never got to choose my lunch, let alone complain about it. So why do I make such a fuss for my Princes?

The reason is because I learnt the hard way that the Princes were more than unimpressed by their limited gastronomic lunch box choices, they felt unloved. It may just be guys, but with my hubbie and Princes, the way to their hearts is seriously through their stomachs. (With me it’s with chocolate, anything exotic, dark and smelling of a truffle, with a cappuccino.) Food = Mommy’s Love. And that’s why I do take their lunches  seriously. (New year’s resolution…) And it works. I made Prince No. 3 Kiri cheese crackers the other day. (Kiri cheese being an imported cheese treat in my house, that I know he sincerely loves.) He saw it and wrapped his sweet five year old arms around me and said emphatically, ‘I love you.’

Love makes the world go round doesn’t it? I’m going to keep buying Kiri cheese.

Snack notes are a great way to give that extra bit of lunchbox love. New Years Resolution - more notes, even if it's just a smiley face on a sandwich packet.

Snack notes are a great way to give that extra bit of lunchbox love. New Years Resolution – more notes, even if it’s just a smiley face on a sandwich packet.