by Todd Fulginiti
Tonight I packed lunches for the family like I have most nights for the past 15 years. But tonight was different. My youngest daughter is a high school senior. Tomorrow is her last day of class, and the last day I will pack her a lunch for school. Three years ago, when my older daughter graduated from high school, I felt the same way I do now as I packed her last school lunch. Happy. Proud. Nostalgic. Old. A little sad. Optimistic. A bit outgrown.
I knew then that this day would come soon, and was I right. You may ask why this is such a big deal. It’s because making lunches for the kids is not just making them lunch. Sure, the food choices and nutritional aspects are important, and I took them seriously. But the thing that makes the job of lunch packer so meaningful, is that each day you get to send your kids some caring and some love. Yeah, I know. Sounds sappy, right? But it’s true.
My kids rarely if ever bought school lunches. They liked packed lunches better. I took pride in making the best sandwiches, salads and wraps I could, combined with the most nutritionally balanced and interesting “side dishes” based on the demands of their schedule that day (long choir rehearsal, cross country practice, etc…). None of it was gourmet (although my salads are really good) but my daughters knew when they opened their box each day, that I put thought into what they were about to eat and into what they had “on their plate” activity-wise for the day. Sometimes I wrote a short note or drew a “dad humor” cartoon and put that into the box too. I wanted the lunchbox to contain a little slice of total wellness each day.
Over the years, making lunches became one of the simplest, most constant, and impactful ways that I could support my kids, and I think we all recognized it as more than just a pile of foods stuffed into a little box. Sometimes that old phrase about little things meaning a lot is true.
When fall arrives, my wife and I will be “empty nesters”. I’ve been told that sending lunches to school will morph completely into sending money to school, but that’s ok I guess. I wonder if I could get away with drawing some “dad humor” cartoons on the check?
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