Where have all the dinner ladies gone?

I’m yet to meet a mum who enjoys packing her children’s lunchboxes. Whether you tackle this task at night, or first thing in the morning, it always feels like a chore, doesn’t it?

I can’t put my finger on exactly why I dislike this aspect of child-rearing, but I think it’s got something to do with all the rules: no nuts, no crisps, no chocolate, cakes or sweets and, because the UAE is a Muslim country, no pork products such as ham or sausage rolls.

So, five days a week, mums are expected to put together a shoebox of food which is not forbidden, is healthy yet enticing to a fussy, small child, and varies from day to day.

I’m all for eating well, but this is actually quite a tall-order, no? When I got told off by the school censors for sending in Hula Hoops, it dawned on me that I’d have to get a lot more creative in my food choices (five Hula Hoops in a Tupperware pot is okay, apparently, but not the whole packet – silly me).

Remember the semolina-ladling dinner ladies of days gone by? Several at my school enforced the clean-plate policy so strictly we used to hide the vegetables in our pockets
The news that BB’s school had started providing some hot meals was, needless to say, music to my ears and led to this conversation yesterday:

In the morning:

Me: “BB, how about I give you some money for a hot dinner today?”

BB: “Yay!” nodding his head a little too eagerly.

Me: “Can you remember how much it is? 12 dirhams?”

BB: “How about you give me 100 and that should cover it?”

Me: “Erm, no. I’ll give you 12.” [cheeky!]

Then after school:

Me: “So, what did you have for dinner?” hoping to be regaled with tales of platefuls of pasta, chicken curry and fresh-cut tropical fruit.

BB, grinning: “I had crisps! Red crisps. Healthy ones. They cost 5 dirhams so I got some money back for tomorrow,” the delight etched on his face.

Me [dismayed a teacher hadn’t intervened]: “For dinner? That’s all?”

BB nods.

It was back to packing a gourmet lunch box this morning. Sigh!

5 thoughts on “Where have all the dinner ladies gone?

  1. Hahaha I had the same. Gave my son some money for a lunch and all he got for himself was cup cakes! But it is a challenge to put together something healthy, tasty and fun looking. (eventhough task is outsourced to Mother T). xx

  2. Linda Storey says:

    How funny! Guess what? Andy helped for the first time in five weeks this morning by spreading one rice cake with cream cheese. Practically felt like I’d had a holiday this morning!! Back to the whole chore myself for the rest of the year, I bet! Love the way your blogs mirror my life at times from selotape to lunch boxes. x

  3. Oh, I am so happy those days are over – especially with Son#2, who just does.not.eat.sandwiches. He wanted to take things like fettuccine alfredo for lunch every day – as if I just had an endless supply in the fridge. At this point, he’s big enough to pack his own lunches, and I have washed my hands of it. He still doesn’t eat sandwiches, though.

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