last packed school lunch day

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Today was the last day I needed to pack lunches for the Girl and Monkey Boy. I can’t believe that our insulated lunch bags and bento lunch boxes made it through the entire school year, even though I wasn't so sure that I had anything in the house to pack in them for their lunches. I was cutting it kind of close with meal planning. I have fruit aplenty and some carrots and a cucumber. In the pantry, I have a lot of nuts and some dried fruit and protein bars. I also have a cabinet full of spices. I really wanted to just grab a handful of whatever and throw it in a bag, pat some heads, and push them out the door. You can just imagine the conversation in the cafeteria, “I got some wasabi almonds, dried apricots, half a cuke, and a jar of fennel. Anyone wanna trade?”

B walked through kitchen and saw me staring into the open fridge. He said, “I don’t need lunch today. I’m going out with the team.”

“Are you sure? I got a jar of minced garlic. It’s all yours if you want it.” B promptly left the kitchen.

At the same time, Ash walked into the kitchen, “What should I do for breakfast?”

I wanted to say something funny about the garlic but thought better of it. It was her last full day of school, after all. Last thing she needed was to be labelled the Garlic Girl, surely a moniker that would follow her into the new school year in August.

Instead, the Girl had a protein shake.

Meanwhile, I was still debating what to send for lunch. There were always PB&Js, but the kids staged a revolt against them earlier in the year. The Girl said politely but firmly, “I didn’t enjoy my lunch. I don’t like peanut butter, and I don’t like jam.” Monkey Boy simply returned his sandwich with his otherwise empty lunch box, and when asked why he didn’t eat his sammie, he said, “There just wasn’t enough time.” It’s his code.

I got a jar of minced garlic. It’s all yours if you want it.

I started going through the list of what I had on hand: I have a couple frozen bagels and a frozen muffin. I have some chick peas and some kidney beans. I have applesauce and enchilada sauce and pizza sauce. And that’s when I remembered, there was some pepperoni in the fridge, leftover from pizza night last Friday. I grabbed that and a few wheat crackers and loaded up the bento boxes with some nuts and fruit—cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. I placed a protein bar on top of the boxes for snacks.

The Girl grabbed her bar and her box without looking in it and packed it in her lunch bag with a blue ice block.

I smiled at the very accomplishment of packing the final lunch for the school year. I wanted to tell her that her lunch today was a little like a Lunchable, only homemade. But I knew that would cause her nose to wrinkle and her brow to furrow. Just the other day while we were fixing dinner, she told me that she really liked Lunchables even though it’s been years since she had one. She said, “I liked them until you started making them at home.”

My brow furrowed, “Why? They’re sorta the same.”

“No momma, homemade Lunchables are gross.”

No matter. Nothing can spoil this day. It’s happy Last Packed School Lunch Day!