Color me shocked: According to a recent survey, 55 percent of American moms say they're "stressed out by the idea of shopping for and packing school lunches." Well, obviously! Because shopping for and packing school lunches IS stressful. (The only surprising thing about these survey results, in my opinion, is that 45 percent of American moms bothered to pretend they don't stress out about the deeply torturous task.)
Oh sure, every September I make the same vow: THIS year will be different. THIS year I will be more organized and send my kids off to school each day with a lunch so nutritionally high-powered they'll grow a billion new brain cells by the time recess is over. A lunch so incredibly delicious they'll beg for more when they get home. A lunch so colorful and cool-looking their friends will drool and the teacher will give ME a gold star.
By the end of the first week I'm back to secretly hoping my kids will beg me to let them buy that horrible slop they sell in the cafeteria. Pink slime? Go for it! Just don't make me pack your lunch!
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What, exactly, do I hate about packing school lunch? It's one of those parenting games you just can't win. No matter what you pack in that lunch box. For example:
1. No matter what you pack for lunch, your kids will claim to hate it. Even if they loved it yesterday (and the day before that and the day before that). Consequently they will come home hungry and cranky and their foul state will be deemed "all your fault."
2. No matter what you pack for lunch, it will be prepared/presented in the "wrong" way. The sandwich was supposed to be cut into triangles, not squares. The apple slices turned brown (and no they do NOT taste the same, Mom!). Whatever was supposed to stay warm got cold and whatever was supposed to stay cool got hot.
3. No matter what you pack for lunch, most of it will come back home. Common excuses for untouched lunches include: "I didn't have enough time to finish," "So-and-so had a birthday and I was full cause I had two cupcakes," and "My friend had an extra bag of nacho cheez chips so I ate those instead of what you gave me."
4. No matter what you pack for lunch, your kid's lunchbox will end up smelling vaguely like a tuna sandwich. Even if your kid hates tuna and you've literally never packed her a single tuna sandwich in her entire life. Strange but true.
5. No matter what you pack for lunch, it will pale in comparison to what some other mom packed some other kid for lunch. And make no mistake: Your child will take this as a deliberate attempt by you to make his life miserable. Don't bother trying to explain why he should be happy that you packed carrots and the other mom packed neon green sour gummy frogs. He knows the truth. You're just a meanie.
Is it really almost time for school to start?! Here we go again ...
What do YOU hate about packing lunch for your kids?
Image via Robert Nelson/Flickr