Me and the tween girl, we find ourselves at loggerheads so often. I am experiencing a bone-crushing dread for the actual teenage years. And I find myself venturing further and further into the “I said I would never…” territory. Choose your battles, keep the peace.
Like this morning, when I allowed her to bring a less than healthy lunch to school.
The child is a picky eater. Like, she takes it to Olympic levels. I used to make lunches for her to take to school. They weren’t the healthiest lunches, but it was the best I could do with what she’d eat and what would keep well in a lunchbox for several hours. So it would be a hot dog or PB & J or a roast beef wrap, with a fruit and a couple of cookies and a small bottle of water. Until the first words in the car after school were a rundown of the various reasons why she couldn’t eat the lunch I had prepared for her. Gotten my butt out of bed at 6:00 am and made for her.
“The bread was a little mushy so I couldn’t eat the sandwich.”
“There was a hard part in the wrap so I couldn’t eat it.”
There was NEVER a problem with the cookies, mind you.
So I just kind of gave up and started letting her eat the school lunches. Except she doesn’t like the school lunches either. The only things she’ll eat on the tray are the carbs. Certainly not good nutrition but for $2.50 a day I don’t have to get up early to make a lunch she won’t eat, and I won’t get her critique at the end of the day.
Except last week she was SO hungry at the end of the day and kept begging me to drive her through McDonald’s and get her some fries. Let me stop right here and tell you that I never ever ever just drive the child through McDonald’s and “get some fries”, and certainly not because she refused to eat her lunch. So I don’t know where that request came from, but she was stuck on it.
I’m so hu-u-u-ungry. Why, mama, why won’t you get some fries? The meat on the tray was -dramatic pause- “mystery meat”! I COULDN’T eat it!
Friends, I did not fall for it. Instead, I very matter-of-factly told her that she could make her own lunch for school if she didn’t like tray lunch. “Really?!?” And she didn’t even balk when I told her she’d have to get up a little earlier in the morning to do it.
Sure enough, the next morning she popped out of bed a few minutes earlier (okay, so slowly rollllled out of bed…) and went to the kitchen and made her own lunch. Easy Mac and canned mandarin oranges and Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and water. I snuck in an extra pack of raisins.
Nope, wasn’t a healthy lunch. But it was no worse than her eating $2.50 carb fest from the tray lunch, and it gave her a sense of ownership over her food. It’s deep within the “I would never…” territory, but it’s progress.