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