My recent rant about taps was so popular that I have been trying desperately ever since to think of something else that annoys me. When I nearly got run over last week on a zebra crossing by a driver who wasn’t paying attention I tried to get riled up about it, I really did, but instead my brain said ‘never mind, you weren’t hurt, and sometimes you don’t always spot people on zebra crossings either’.
Damn you brain being so understanding.
Every time I see a sock or towel on the floor I try to will myself to become infuriated, but it just isn’t working, I’m just too easy going.
*pause for cynical laughter from Boyfriend, mum, and anyone else who has ever lived with me*
This morning though, as I made Belle a marmite sandwich*, it hit me – packed lunches. Dangerous driving and thoughtless housekeeping just don’t come close to the loathsomeness of having to make a packed lunch. You’d think that after having one child or another at school for over 14 years that it wouldn’t bother me any more, that I would at least have resigned myself to doing it, if not exactly embraced it. You might even think I would have been organised enough to get into the habit of making them the night before, but no, I leave it until the last possible minute every time.
I’ve decided that the issue with packed lunches is twofold.
Firstly, there’s the imagination required. You are basically having to do the same task every day, but with the expectation that you will do it slightly differently each time. Do you know how much effort that requires?? In my day you got a sandwich and a penguin and you were grateful, (especially after the two mile walk to school and back, in the snow, uphill both ways), but nowadays the pressure is on for ‘good’ parents to create things like this:
I mean, come on, who on earth has the time or the patience to do that every single day? You do know it’s not going to look like that when your child takes it out of their bag at lunch time don’t you? Seriously, if you are spending that much time thinking about packed lunches then something is deeply wrong. Get a job, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, take a lover, anything – but do something. Apart from anything else you’re making the rest of us look bad.
The second issue is what the packed lunch represents. When your first child goes off to primary school it can feel exciting at first, packing up their teeny tiny lunch box with wholesome treats. And then it hits you – you are going to have to do this all week, all month, all year, for years and years. And it’s not just the sandwich. You are going to have to be available to make the sandwich at the same time and place every day. For years. The packed lunch comes to symbolise everything about parenting that terrifies and frustrates you – the relentlessness, the lifelong commitment, not to mention the total lack of gratitude or acknowledgement you get for any of it.
Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how long you spend crafting sandwiches into the shape of dinosaurs or turning a bunch of grapes into ‘fruit kebabs’, your child is going to take one bite, leave the rest in the box, and go out to play, leaving the rest for you to discover when they get home and throw in the bin.
*I wonder how many marmite sandwiches I have made in my lifetime? I really hope that when you die you get a bit of time afterwards to pull up some stats from your life – number of marmite sandwiches made, number of days in total spent going up and down in lifts, that sort of thing.