November 16, 2011

Stunt Sandwich

I'm feeling embarrassed and upset over something MINOR that was nevertheless embarrassing and upsetting.

Edward's lunch has been a problem since the first day of school. His lunchbox comes back with one bite taken out of his sandwich, and he says it just doesn't TASTE right. About a month ago I came up with what I thought was a clever plan: a bunch of little nutritious snacks instead of A Sandwich. It worked well: his lunchbox started coming home with evidence of him having eaten something in the 7.5 hours he'd been away.

But yesterday at lunchtime, the school secretary called, saying Edward's teacher had asked her to call to find out "what they should do for Edward's lunch," because "all he had was peanuts, pretzels, and raisins."

I get how when you say it like that it kind of sounds like...snack mix, or something, or somehow "not a real lunch." Especially if you put the words "all he had was" in front of it. But keeping in mind that a peanut butter and jam sandwich would have been a no-explanation-or-phone-call-needed lunch, I think peanuts are a nutritional step up from peanut butter, and I think raisins are a nutritional step up from jam, and I think pretzels are sitting on the step right next to bread.

Luckily, luckily, LUCKILY, I did not do my usual thing where I don't feel like I can defend myself because I'm so worried it will sound like I'm lying. And in fact I just said pretty much exactly what I would have later come up with while lying awake in bed: that Edward had been coming home with only one bite of his sandwich eaten, so I was experimenting to find foods he WOULD eat at school; that I'd thought he could have peanuts for protein and fat, raisins for fruit, and pretzels for carbohydrates. And the secretary sounded perfectly fine with that and said she'd let the teacher know.

So it went PERFECTLY, didn't it? It really did go perfectly. But I'm still fretful because they looked at his lunch and felt it warranted a call to a parent. It doesn't seem like I should have needed to explain that lunch.

The fact that two people DID think so makes me feel upset: they thought I'd made a mistake when I don't think it even LOOKED LIKE I'd made a mistake. I don't like that kind of being at-odds with someone else: I like it when the actions I think are right also LOOK clearly right to other people, without being so uninterpretable that I'd need to explain why it was right.

So even though this actual incident is minor, and went surprisingly well and ended fine, I still sent a sandwich with Edward today. He won't eat it, so I also sent peanuts, raisins, and mini-wheats. But then I'm here feeling unsettled because I sent a STUNT SANDWICH to reassure school teachers/secretaries, and because I still feel unhappy that I had to explain that other lunch.

88 comments:

Hillary said...

We call what you packed a Snacky Lunch. Our boys regularly ask for a Snacky Lunch. They prefer the Snacky Lunch. Their teachers have raised some question, but I find that you can avoid that if you just pack a fourth thing -- not a sandwich -- but maybe a yogurt.

Kate said...

Ugh, I hate that you had to go through that. But I'm glad you handled it so well! Maybe cheese and crackers would appeal to him?

Alice said...

i ALWAYS preferred the Snacky Lunch growing up! it was more fun to eat, and less overwhelming. (i'm not sure why a sandwich can seem so overwhelming to a kid, but i distinctly remember that feeling when i opened up my lunch and there was just ONE HUGE THING! ALL ONE PIECE! EAT THIS GIANT THING!)

anyway! i like the yogurt idea; it "rounds out" the lunch without requiring an entire stunt sandwich. or maybe cheese sticks / cheese cubes?

andreaunplugged said...

Would he eat some meat, cheese and crackers, like a homemade lunchable? It's more like the "snacky lunch" and less "potentially questionable".

dragonfly said...

That's what I do at home with my son...we call it a snack platter and it basically consists of a deconstructed lunch. A little pile of lunch meat. A little pile of crackers. Some fruit. He grazes and eats it all up. But if it was a sandwich..no such luck.

For his school lunch I do the same thing as you. But yeah...try sending a yogurt instead of a sandwich. Or some fruit?

And I know and hate that feeling of "I'm doing what's right, why are you questioning what is so obviously right?" I am, in fact, looking out for my child's best interest.

Mrs. Irritation said...

Oh geez, this never occurred to me. All we ever do is Snacky Lunch, my kid won't eat sandwiches. & since when did a sandwich become the standard by which all other lunches are measured? I hate that you had to send a stunt sandwich, but agree with the cheese stick etc suggestions as a suitable substitute.

Aimee Olivo said...

Hrumph. That teacher is ridiculous! That sounds like a wonderful lunch to me! I am SURE you don't want to spend a fortune on a new lunchbox to justify this sort of lunch in the teacher's mind...BUT...our Laptop Lunch box really LENDS itself to just this sort of lunch -- small bento-type containers for various items. My son does prefer a sandwich but we do alternate filling each of the 4 containers with snacks that add up to a healthful lunch.

Congrats for your great job of handling the call!

Kristina said...

I would have felt the same way you did - even though you were doing the right thing for your child, it's never a good feeling to have someone question you. But at least you know you were totally doing the right thing.

lisak said...

Is this teacher from Mars? Using my own kids as evidence, this is a totally normal lunch. I used to see stuff like this all the time when I worked with kids, too. If it was a lunch of pure candy, I might have been concerned, but that's not the case. She's just uninformed or not a parent herself yet.

Anne said...

The lunch sounds fine to me. It actually sounds a lot like some of my lunches - small food is much easier for me to deal with than big food.

Swistle said...

But I don't WANT to have to send another food group, when I wouldn't have had to include it (and its accompanying icepack) if the lunch were in sandwich form! It's so unfairrrrrrrrrr!

Leah said...

I would be upset too. My big issue with school lunches is that I send lunches that are 99% healthy but will sometimes send a bit of cookie or something. Turns out my kindergartener is getting told she can't eat that until she finishes her sandwich. Which... first off, I'm opposed to food regulating - if i send it, she can eat it. I don't care about order or amount. secondly - a chocolate chip cookie isn't that much worse for her than that PB and honey sandwich! We control what kids eat so constantly and then wonder why society has such issues around food. :-/

lifeofadoctorswife said...

Argh. I wrote a long comment and it didn't comment.

The gist:

Two possibly-comforting thoughts:

1. I am betting the teacher did not march the lunchbox down to the office and force the secretary to look at it. Therefore, the secretary was probably taking the teacher at her word. Which means that only ONE person looked at the lunch and found it lacking.

2. Teachers are so harried and overworked sometimes, it's possible she just looked at the lunch for what was MISSING rather than for what was THERE. If she had taken a minute to think about it, she would have likely came to the same conclusion: protein/fat, fruit, carbs.

But I too would feel upset. I like the Right Things to Look Right to others, too. For some reason it's very important.

kakaty said...

Ohh- school lunches get me so riled up. In that same cafeteria kids are probably eating pizza AND french fries provided by the school and no one has a problem with it. But you pack a lunch that is 20x healtier and you get called out? shenanigans

Amanda said...

I was a picky eater that brought saltine crackers with peanut butter and fluff for lunch everyday for my entire childhood. They would have had a field day with me. Did I eat something? Yes. Am I alive to tell the tale? Yes.

Maggie said...

kakaty I am also fired up! My first thought upon reading this was that teacher and the school need to butt out. Absent evidence that Edward was hungry or not getting enough food, there is absolutely no reason for them to ask you about what is in his lunch. Jeez half the time the school lunch is crap and no one peeps about that. A source of protein, a fruit, and some carbs are a perfectly acceptable lunch.

Like many here, my son doesn't like sandwiches - if I send them he doesn't eat much. So we send other things. If someone got in my grill about our lunch choices I'd probably invite them to figure out some way for him to get a nutritious lunch that isn't a sandwich every day. My son's school has a cafeteria where two grades eat lunch at a time though, so no one is paying any attention to the actual food consumed.

Sorry, don't want to get you riled up, you handled this perfectly, it just makes me irritated.

Sarah said...

This was an interesting post, because I have come at this "snacky lunch" from the OPPOSITE angle. I was seriously annoyed at what they were feeding my kids for lunch at daycare. I thought: WTF daycare people, I pay an INSANE amount of money for you to feed my children a lunch of peaches, cheese, crackers, and celery... Until it HIT me like a ton of bricks. How is the grilled cheese sandwich and raisins I gave them last night nutritionally superior to this snack lunch? It's not. At all. Don't send the sandwich. Some of us just need a little wake up call that healthy lunches, just like people, come in all forms :)

Amanda said...

The same thing happened to me about a month ago. My daughter is in kindergarten and due to food allergies we have to pack her lunch daily. While I was initially packing items that she LOVES to eat at home, she wasn't enjoying them at school. More and more of her lunch came home until I decided to try a "snack-y" lunch - soy cheese, a pepperoni stick, pretzels and an apple. The school decided that "snacks" aren't appropriate for lunch (not nutritionally appropriate) and so they took her lunch from her and gave her a school meal that day. A meal that consisted of FOUR items, ALL of which she is severely allergic to. That day, she ate nothing and came home shaking and crying with hunger. I still get worked up thinking about it.

Jess said...

My son won't eat meat, or even a pb sandwich, so I send snacky lunches too. I've had the question from the teacher also. So I get it.

But. A stunt sandwich? That may be the funniest thing I've heard all week. And I'm in a very busy waiting room, and laughed out loud at that.

squandra said...

I'd bet two people did not actually think so. The secretary may have even rolled her eyes -- or at least wouldn't have come up with Cause For Concern if she were looking at that lunch on her own -- but rather than argue about it with the teacher, she followed directions and called.

Honestly, I'd like to cut the teacher a break but I have trouble finding a way to look at that as not rude. Not rude might have been, "I noticed Edward doesn't have a sandwich today, and he usually does. Just wanted to double check with you that that's okay." But "What should we do about his lunch?" seems like framing the question in a critical way on purpose. At the very least, it's super presumptuous. What if you hadn't sent a sandwich not because you were looking for something Edward would eat, but because you were stretching until the next paycheck with the groceries you had on hand?

NOT TO MENTION the fact that peanuts, fruit, and pretzels is WAY HEALTHIER than most sandwiches, especially PB&J.

I could be wrong, but I kinda think his teacher should get over herself.

liz said...

My son doesn't like peanuts, but otherwise, I've sent him with that exact lunch. Except his was:

Grapes, gold fish, diced cheese, diced ham.

liz said...

Alternatively, send his lunch in labeled containers:

"Low-fat, high calorie protein"
"No-sugar-added fruit"
"Carbohydrate for energy"

Label his lunch bag with "Well-thought-out meal"

Slim said...

I am just relieved to hear from all the other parents of children who don't like sandwiches, because I've got three of them and packing lunches (for summer camp -- they eat school lunch during the year) is my biggest first world-y problem.

liz said...

And lastly, my son is much more likely to eat a whole sandwich (if I sent him with one) if it's cut into thin sticks, triangles, or other shapes.

Misty said...

This is so so strange to me. Brother won't eat sandwiches and packs a lunch every day. Like Edward, it is important that he eat for medical reasons and he is really picky. All we pack are snacky lunches or no food will be eaten. What's even WORSE is that I pack mostly junky stuff, so I know he will get in calories. Pudding cups. Brownies. Chips. Some cheese and fruit too...but mostly junk.

I would be upset, too if someone questioned my lunch choices for my child and (in a way) therefore my parenting choices.

How Strange! The child has food. He is not starving. He is clean and appropriately dressed. They don't have other kids with real issues to worry about?

Nowheymama said...

I have so many things to say I can't even think straight, especially after reading what happened to Amanda's daughter in your comments. Yes, please feed the child a 'healthy' meal that might KILL HER. GAH.

My daughter didn't used to like sandwiches, so we made a snacky lunch (yes, in a bento box) every. day.

Don't pack a stunt sandwich!! That's wasteful and might make them question his lunch AGAIN when he doesn't have it. Put one of his items in a Thermos to disguise it! Or, better yet, send a note to the teacher saying exactly what you said to the secretary, which was PERFECT, BTW.

I know a child who eats a honey sandwich every day for lunch. Is that healthier than his lunch? Hint: no.

*pant* *pant* *pant*

d e v a n said...

The secretary was probably just doing what the teacher told her and the teacher may have just wanted to make sure there wasn't supposed to be something else. (?) Or maybe she's just a pain in the booty about that sort of thing. I think you explained it PERFECTLY well and they probably get it now. I would keep not sending a sandwich = or keep sending the same one he doesn't eat. lol

Unknown said...

Psht. My kids get yogurt, applesauce, a string cheese, another whole fruit (apple, banana, etc.) and something crunchy like crackers or a granola bar in their box every day. Plus water. I *do* worry sometimes that someone will look at their lunch and wonder why mommy forgot a sandwich, but sandwiches take too long, end up uneaten, etc. You handled it beautifully, and the lunch you are giving is the right one, because it's the one he EATS!

parodie said...

These stories seem a bit heartbreaking to me because everyone involved appears to be trying to do the right thing but there's a lack of communication and/or attention and it all goes haywire. A bit like a classical tragic play - or maybe just a farce.

I was going to comment to suggest you make your stunt sandwich from rice cakes + peanut butter (a lunch I liked as a kid; something about the texture). It'll keep longer, so you can probably send the same prop sandwich for a whole week (at least).

Clearly my preferred way to problem solve is avoidance...

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

agreed, what is Right should also Look Right To Others. Being questioned on my parenting is irritating.

For lunch my 6 yr old eats 5 pieces of deli ham (no bread), a clementine, a high fructose corn syrup fruit snack, a bottle of water, and a rice krispy treat. Any deviation from that menu is met with withering scorn and a stern lecture starting with "you sent me the WRONG LUNCH."

Last year's lunch was a sunbutter sandwich, goldfish, an apple, and two oreos. The year before that, pasta with butter (preschool had a microwave). Every. Single. Day.

I say send whatever he eats.

HereWeGoAJen said...

That's ridiculous. Your lunch is perfectly reasonable. I say ignore them.

Also, when I was teaching, there were parents who would send nothing for lunch for their elementary school child except for a single pack of ramen noodles. Which the lunch teacher would then have to prepare for them. (In the school's bowl, with the school's utensils...)

Nellyru said...

OR, like someone else said, the teacher might've just noticed that he didn't have a sandwich that day when he usually did have one,and she asked someone in the office to call and the SECRETARY chose to word it that way. I've had that happen to me before when I've asked someone to make a call for me...and then when I heard how the message got delivered I just want to poke my eyes out...

Plus, I could see that happening with us because our teacher is SO NICE and the office staff is fairly obnoxious. That is, I could see it happening if there was ANY WAY at all for anyone to notice what the heck any of the kids were eating. I'm pretty sure I could send my kid to school with a can of Friskies and a Hershey bar and no one would notice but my kid.

Kalendi said...

Good for Swistle. I wouldn't send the sandwich. Sheesh! My husband and I don't eat sandwiches and he has what you would call the snacky lunches all the time. Much healthier, but he doesn't have any body calling me to say something's missing. Wow!

Lauren said...

Now I'm thinking of all sorts of great decoy sandwiches. Maybe a realistic plastic one, like when restaurants have displays to demonstrate what their meals look like.

Or wrap something sandwich shaped in foil and label it PB and J. It could stay in the lunchbox all year!

bunnyslippers said...

I second Liz's idea of passive-aggressively labeling everything. I would even include my email with a 'Questions? Email me at ...' just to add complete transparency.

It may be down to a battle between the secretary and the teacher--maybe the secretary made the teacher's wording sound snarkier than it was originally or maybe they used the teacher's wording exactly to express how snarky the teacher really is.

anislandmom said...

I have to agree with Nellyru that maybe it was the secretary that worded it bad, the secretary at my mom's school can be a witch. My mom is a teacher and at her school the teachers don't eat lunch with the students, they are sent into the lunch room and the "lunch room parent/teachers" deal with them so the teacher can eat their lunch.

I know most teachers at my mom's school actually call parents themselves, so I'm surprised they gave this job to the secretary to do.

I wouldn't send in a stunt sandwich but maybe a letter asking the teacher why she found the lunch lacking. If she's really paying that much attention to the childrens' lunch then hasn't she noticed Edward NOT eating his sandwich. Eating all the 'snacky' foods is much better then eating nothing at all.

Shalini said...

You're a good mom, and now the teacher knows, so no stunt sandwich needed. The other kids probably think you're AWESOME because I don't know many at my son's school who like sandwiches either. They're like, "HOW do we communicate the want for the snacky lunch? HOW?" You're just a trendsetter, Swistle.

Shannon said...

You're doing the right thing for your son and that's all that should matter. But I would feel the same way - attacked. But those who said it may not even have been the teacher may be correct. I guess you would know how much involvement the teacher has at lunch. At my kids school there are no adults in the room while they eat and only older students and a few adults wandering from class to class to keep an eye on things. I'm more surprised that your child is allowed to bring peanuts to school than anything else that you wrote about! It's nice that you have the option to send nuts as a protein. All the schools my kids have attended have had a strict no-nut policy. In fact, I have had to send a note with my kids when I have sent a pea-butter sandwich (a peanut butter alternative which is made of golden peas but tastes like peanut butter) because they have been attacked by the lunch monitors over their sandwiches which, admittedly, look like peanut butter. We do our best. Just try to remember that this is the tiniest blip on the school's radar and if the secretary still remembers it next month she probably won't even remember which particular student had the "unacceptable" lunch! :)

Christina said...

Wow, this is really ridiculous.

Perhaps they should be monitoring the children that have ONLY chips, soda, and other salt and fat laden lunch items? Peanuts, raisins, and pretzels are all really healthy and you're right - they hit all of the same food groups a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would.

I have never liked pb&j sandwiches, ever. My mom used to pack alternative things, too. Oftentimes it would include pretzels or crackers and a veggie or fruit. I LOVED having snack lunches like this. My friends would try to trade things with me all the time, which makes me think they envied it. I never wanted to trade, though.

I remember once in 4th grade at some point during the middle of the school year we got a new girl. I have no idea WHY, but her parents sent her to her first day of school with NO lunch and NO lunch money. The teacher decided since I had a packed lunch that I would share mine with her. I cried the rest of the day until they called my mom, who came to pick me up and obviously was not pleased at all. School lunch at that time was .95c -- as if the teacher couldn't spring for taht herself? It was my 8 year old self's responsibility to split MY lunch simply b/c mine was packed? Why not choose a child taht bought lunch and make them share their tray? Ugh that situation still annoys me to this day when I remember it and how poorly the teacher handled it.

jen(melty) said...

wow, WTH, Christina?? dang.

Ok so why couldn't the teacher contact you herself. Why go through the secretary? This all sounds so very wrong. I'm getting all worked up reading this post and all the comments because I don't want to hear "what schools have to deal with" but I am not one of those parents so I think the school is overly involved in our family life. I got a rude call from the nurse one time because my kid rather rudely chose not to wear a jacket on a 40 degree day during which she had a sweater on. I don't pick clothing battles, so I sent her.. the nurse called to tell me all condescendingly that if it's below 55 they are required to have a jacket on or they sit out recess in the nurse's office. I said "okay." and she was all, "what? that's it? Her recess isn't for an hour if you want to send her coat in now." and I said that I didn't care, and that she chose to not wear the coat and now she'll learn what happens. That didn't go over too well at all... but wtf? not your kid. I didn't exactly put her in DANGER.

Sarah said...

Why don't you write a note that stays in his lunch box that states the facts. That way if anyone has any questions they can see the note. Or send a note to the teacher explaining it?

Pat said...

I bet if you had sent him in with something like Lunchables all would have been well. Instead, you sent in real, unprocessed food - your mistake! I suggest you buy one, stick it in the bag along with your snack-y lunch and give your son strict orders not to eat it. Then, keep sending the same one in everyday. I bet it will last to the end of the school year.
btw: I am Alice's mom and I want to remind her that I recollect cutting up her sandwiches every day. Also, a belated thanks, Swistle, for commenting on my new food blog.

Anonymous said...

The teacher's reaction to the snacky lunch seems really symptomatic of what Michael Pollan talks about in In Defense of Food. He talks about how Americans & westerners have lost our ability to see what food really is. Pollan would argue that we have forgotten how to enjoy our food for fear of eating unhealthily but that while we obsess over nutrients we are devouring all kinds of refined carbs and synthetic "nutrients" in "food" that no more resembles the original ingredients than paper. Bread is now basically nutrient-depleted wheat with some vitamins added back. PB and J are loaded with simple sugars and devoid of the complexity that the nuts and fruit once had. So the reality that many can't even see anymore is that whole, snacky foods can be more real (and therefore nutritious) than what we would commonly see in a lunch. So more power to you for listening to your kid and your heart. - Fitz

Allison said...

Even if it was the secretary's wording, the teacher still asked her to call, which means she didn't think it was a good lunch. I'd be upset too.

Missy ~ said...

I would think of it from the perspective of what if he normally packed (and ate) a sandwich and it was forgotten that day. Maybe they were just calling from that perspective (like hey - do you want us to give him hot lunch?) rather than really judging what he had. I doubt he underwent a lunch box inspection, more just that a teacher walking by thought something was missing.

I would follow-up with an email explaining and stating that you will be experimenting with lunches until you find something that he will eat and you find acceptable. Then you don't need any more stunt sandwiches. And no need to feel guilty about trying other things in his lunch.

My kids love lunchable type things (homemade) and plain, cold pasta as sandwich alternatives. Check out some bento box sites for other ideas. Don't get hung up on the "designs" because who has time for that????

Anonymous said...

I'll add my support! We also pack snacky lunches, and I've never heard a comment from school. Really, you know you did fine, take a deep breath, and work on not caring what other people think. You feel unsettled because you let it get to you. It'll pass.

DawnA said...

Best parenting advice ever - They are your kids and you know them better than anyone. Trust your instincts! If you keep your kids are happy and healthy you are doing a good job. PS I always think about conversations after they happen & wonder if I could have said something different.

lar said...

Aw, I'm so sorry! This would upset and unsettle me, too. You did have the perfect explanation, although you shouldn't have had to explain.

It cracks me up that you sent a stunt sandwich. Maybe you should treat it with that stuff they use on dessert carts in restaurants, so you can keep using it all school year. :)

sooboo said...

It's nice the school cares, but it's a little much. My working mom used to put like 4 Carnation Breakfast Bars in my lunchbox and that was it. No one ever looked in my lunch box and I'm still alive today.

Jen in MI said...

The teacher should've butted out. If the child said "I don't have a sandwich! I'm hungry!", then the teacher could worry about it, but if the child is happy with his lunch, leave him (and his mom) alone! My daughter is picky and brings odd things for lunch, but she always has nutritious food. Although I am laughing about the "stunt sandwich", I agree-no need for you to send it!

Brigid Keely said...

I started making my own lunches when I was 7 or so, and sometimes I tried to get fancy and instead of packing a cheese sandwich I would pack crackers and cheese. People would quiz me about that. It's out of the norm, you know? There were never any REPERCUSSIONS from it, though. I love that you're flexible enough to meet your child's needs instead of insisting on following the norms.

Linda said...

... or it could just be that the Teacher was in the habit of helping him pull out his sandwich to get him started, then left the room to eat her own lunch and never realized that he never actually ate the sandwich. And on this particular day, noticed he didn't have a sandwich and was worried that it was missed and that Edward would be hungry and wanted to ask what you wanted her to do, so she delegated the call to the secretary while she ate her own lunch?
It was a change from his norm, and she just wanted to clarify? No harm in that. Communication is good, judgement is bad. I don't think she was necessarily judging you, just clarifying.

christine said...

Boo hiss to those the teacher and secretary. I would personally like the snacky lunch better (for me, mind you) if you had snuck some sharp cheddar in there and traded almonds for the peanuts, but there I am being picky. :)

Would he do hummus with crudite? Not that it would help your cause, but maybe help him branch out?

Also please feel free to ignore my assvice, having no kids, and having never been picky myself. (Also having a husband who requests all sandwich all the time when I am motivated to pack lunches at all.)

PS - I often have the above cheese, nuts, crackers, and maybe some cold cuts for dinner. The teacher would be so ashamed.

Stephanie said...

As a former teacher, can I jump in? I am betting that the main thing motivating the teacher was CONCERN. S/he probably just wanted to make sure that nothing was happening at home that prevented him from being adequately fed, or check to make sure that Edward was not selling/dumping/losing his sandwich, or see if you were aware that this was all he was eating. Because teachers are busy and generally not looking for trouble in the form of awkward conversations with parents. I think you handled it perfectly - better than perfectly! - and I bet the teacher admires your creative problem-solving to his previous only-eats-one-bite-of-sandwich.

Doing My Best said...

If you DO want to try the yogurt idea without having to mess with an ice pack, you can put the tube yogurts (Go Gurt?) in the freezer and then put one in his lunch box in the morning; it should still be cold when he eats it. I convinced my kids that the frozen tube yogurts are a SPECIAL TREAT =).
I'm so impressed that you managed that UNEXPECTED phone call so well!! GOOD FOR YOU!

Heather said...

I also have a kid who doesn't like sandwiches. We have a laptop lunchbox and, like others have said, it works well for the snacky lunch. Today my son got a piece of bread and butter, a slice of cheese, apple slices and carrot sticks.

I often send him plain pasta in one of the 4 containers. This actually caused problems at the beginning of the year because the teacher noticed he didn't have a fork (he's 5! he eats with his fingers!) and brought him one and then expected him to use it. For several days he didn't want to have pasta in his lunch and I couldn't figure out why, until the fork story finally came out.

nicole said...

I think it is absolutely lame that they called you. I'm sure some of the other 50+ comments say this, but considering what is served in the cafeteria of most schools, there is no reason to call a parent about what you sent with Rob. Obviously you packed the lunch and know what is there. I see kids get two desserts and no protein from the lunch line (they pay for the extra dessert) and no one stops them. I've seen kids drink soda and eat candy for lunch. Geez, what a waste of your time to have to deal with that.

Linda said...

Stephanie - yes, yes, YES!!

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I send "snacks" every day for my kids because they also only take a couple of nibbles from any sandwich that I send.

I send cucumbers, apple slices, peanut butter in a one of those little packages and a SPOON! Wonder what they would say about that?!

If I were you, I would be MAD that they were looking and the lunch and then calling you about it. Are they also calling the parents that send Doritos and candy?

Jessica said...

That single pack of ramen noodles lunch breaks my heart. I cannot imagine not being able to give my preschooler more than that for lunch.

Swistle said...

Linda- I could get on board with that, except he hasn't brought a sandwich for weeks---maybe a month or more---so the lunch he brought was the norm. And he still had ample food, so there was no way hunger could have been the concern: he had a large serving each of peanuts and raisins, and a small serving of pretzels.

Cayt said...

Christine - I frequently have a handful of dry cereal for lunch. I'd be super proud of myself if I managed to find the time and bother to make myself a sandwich.

(I also frequently have a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast.)

Julie said...

One of the things that bothers me about this is the fact that the teacher wouldn't contact you to mention that your child hadn't been eating his sandwiches but instead would be concerned that you aren't sending the "appropriate" lunch. Tells me the teacher isn't paying attention to what is actually being eaten or else she would have realized that these other foods were in place of the sandwich and were actually being eaten.

Swistle said...

Stephanie- I could understand and in fact be grateful for that (it gives me a happy community feeling to know that people are making sure), but that only works if she looks at his lunch and determines that it shows reason to believe he might not be adequately fed. And that's the very thing that's upsetting me: that she looked at his lunch and decided it represent a reason to be concerned about inadequate nutrition. When in fact it was more nutritious than a sandwich, which wouldn't have worried her.

phancymama said...

Baby is waking up, so I don't have time to read all the comments, so I apologize if I'm repeating. I've recently gotten fascinated by the Bento Box concept of lunch. It is based on the Japanese custom, and is to very simplify it--it is a meal composed of a few bites of many things. Similar to peanuts, raisins, pretzels. Or 3 grapes, 1 piece cheese, 1/2 slice bread. (Lots of people tend to also make them decorative or cute presentations, but that is too much.)

So it seems to me that you are just preparing something similar to the Bento Box method of eating, but that our culture is so ingrained in a sandwich = health lunch that they cannot break out of it. And that peanuts are a snack, when in reality they are a pretty forceful and sustaining food. (like you said, peanuts are better than PB)

Lunchbots on Facebook (they make fancy metal containers) often has posts with neat ideas. But I would say to not worry about this (and whoo hoo on saying the best thing on the phone!!!) and to frame it as a situation where you are thinking outside of the box to make your kiddo fed, and the teacher is still stuck looking at the box.

ok, baby screaming. hope this was sensible.

twisterfish said...

So much has been posted already but I just have to add my 2 cents:
I think the teachers have too much pressure sometimes to make sure the kids are eating something (even in "good" areas there are kids with no food or barely anything and the teachers are told to keep an eye out to make sure they eat something). But in this case I think it may have looked like the typical sandwich was forgotten that day ... and nothing more. The call was surely worded wrong. But really, I'd say at least 75% of kids hate sandwiches and the schools should know this by now. And in my opinion, anything brought from home is way better than the school lunches.

p.s. 2 of my 3 kids have food allergies and now I'm starting to freak thinking about what the kids will be eating who are sitting next to my youngest at the lunch tables next year! He's so super allergic... maybe a bubble for him during lunch... do they sell those online? ;)

Mary said...

Buy a plastic stunt sandwich to stick in there and make the overly-concerned teacher happy, and then send along whatever food he will eat. Reuse the stunt sandwich as needed.

Unless you live in a poor area where the school needs to inspect lunches to make sure kids are getting enough to eat, that phone call really surprises me. They don't have better things to worry about?Ye

Linda said...

Hmmm, I see the dilemma. Has Edward been eating the peanuts/pretzels/raisins or refusing to eat anything? Maybe she just noticed that he hasn't been eating well in general and wanted to know what was going on. If you don't have a personal relationship with her maybe she assumed the worst. And FWIW, his lunch you packed, IMHO, is fine. At our school, (I'm the president of the Nutritional Advisory Committee - I know, eye roll) they stress high fibre, high protein, high calcium lunches are the best. So, that's maybe the reason for the call?? But seriously. There have got to be WAY worse lunches coming in with kids.

Superjules said...

I like Mary's idea of a plastic stunt sandwich-- YES. Or a fabric one! Etsy?

I like snacky lunches better than entree lunches, anyhow.

Vegas710 (St) said...

My kids eat mostly the snacky lunches as well and I would be very very upset if someone thought that it was not appropriate because it doesn't LOOK right. Anyone with a brain can see the balance in the meal you packed. It's not like you sent him in with a stale half a nutrigrain bar which *might* suggest you need help feeding your kid. UGH!

Jo Ro said...

Crap - that warranted a call home?

And I am guessing only the teacher and not the caller thought something was 'off' about his lunch.

His lunch is fine! I do that too. My daughter gets a luna bar daily (because she doesn't do sandwiches either).

Do you kids like Luna bars?

Another thing my kids will eat is a tortilla with a stripe of pnut butter and a stripe of NUTELLA down the center and rolled up. That is their 'sandwich'.

Another one they'll eat: I take a tortilla, put sliced cheese on it, micro for 20 seconds so it melts, then put turkey or ham on it and roll it up. My son will eat that.

Sounds like you handled it well - I would have been so flustered!

Nik-Nak said...

So here is my take.
I am SUPER impressed the teacher/schooly faculty take the time and effort to look at kid's lunches and make a call if they find something that maybe needs another look. This makes me feel good for all of the children in his school that maybe have parents that don't give a shit and send them with a few grapes and a piece of gum. That is a good school right there.

Secondly, those three items sound perfectly fine. And I'm sure once you explained that had you packed a sandwhich he wouldn't have eaten it so moot point. Whether the sandwhich is there or not it doesn't matter since there is no consumption and now they know the story behind the snack lunch.
So well done school and well done Swistle. All parties involved deserve a nice big snacky lunch :)

beyond said...

i think you handled that fine. i love the term stunt sandwich, although now that you've explained the situation, you could probably drop that. you know your kids and you know what they will and won't eat.
also, i'm hyperventilating thinking what happened to amanda's daughter.

Lippy said...

My kids eat lunches like that all the time. I remember last year Maddie came home and said she couldn't eat her granola bar because it looked like a candy bar. Then the next day, there was a flyer from the teacher about healthy lunches. I sort of went all cold and sweaty. Then her teacher saw me read it and she was all cheerful and chipper. So I asked about the granola bar, and she said no those are fine, Maddie couldn't eat it because lunch was over (also a little candy is fine). Then she looked at the flier in my hand and said "OMG you thought that was about you!" Then we laughed.

Maybe the teacher wanted to make sure he wasn't ditching his sandwich in the bushes on the way to school. I think that is more likely than her judging lunch contents. I also feel pretty ragey about Amanda's daughters lunch, honestly I don't know how she didn't smack someone.

cestlavietlb said...

I'd look at it from the point of view that at least the teachers were concerned enough to call. The noticed and cared. Your explanation was fine and perfectly reasonable.

In the end it's more important that he actually eats something during the day, than what that something is!

G said...

It struck me as intended as a CYA call for the school. Once the thought even flashes through the teacher's mind that this isn't a complete meal -- or someone else tells her it isn't too many times -- she kind of has to do something about it. So, she got the secretary to call you and I'm sure they documented the perfectly reasonable response and now everybody can move on.

Also, if Edward's school is structured like ours, here's how I see it playing out. The teacher takes the kids to the lunchroom. Random lunchroom workers monitor the tables. The teacher picks them up. On this particular day, a lunchroom worker complains to the teacher about Edward's lunch. (Possibly, random lunchroom worker has complained for a while and the teacher finally decided to put an end to it by being able to say you'd been contacted and the lunch is fine.) The teacher asks the secretary to make a quick call, so that she can note down that you know what you're doing.

I did send snack mix with my daughter in kindergarten -- cashews, dried cranberries, cheerios and chocolate chips -- because she would eat it. In her case though, the teacher and I had been through weeks and weeks of trying to find something she would eat and stressing about how tiny she was, so we were already discussing her lunch regularly.

I wouldn't send a stunt sandwich either.

Bethtastic said...

HA! I, like many commenters, can hardly believe that warranted a call home...

I, too have a non-sandwich daughter, and posted about it,

http://bethtastic.com/2011/02/10/taras-lunch/

including pictures of what I pack her for lunch. It's from last year and we've added some other things to the rotation, but still do lots of the same.
I took pictures to set my mind at ease that I was indeed sending good lunches, because I was afraid of the very thing that happened to you...someone thinking I wasn't packing a good lunch and wanted to assure myslef! :)

bluedaisy said...

On the one hand, it's nice the school takes note of what the kids are eating. The teacher just needs to think outside the (lunch)box. I'd just let it go- as long as you know you are providing for your child, let other people figure out that they need to expand their definition of lunch. I like the yogurt suggestion above b/c if he likes that, those other ingredients would be super yummy with yogurt too. But it is equally fine just as you have it :)

Laura Diniwilk said...

You remind me of me when you post about stuff like this - MINOR, and handled PERFECTLY, but nevertheless embarrassing and upsetting and you are still thinking about it / dissecting it.

This was an interesting post for me to read because it would have never even occurred to me that anyone checks lunches at all (my school never did). So weird that yours was even a blip on the radar. I would like to join the masses in saying you are a great mom and are obviously doing what is right for Edward and that's all that matters. And "stunt sandwich" made me laugh.

Josefina said...

When my boys went to school, that is the sort of lunch my older son needed or, like your son, he simply wouldn't eat. I sent a very similar lunch: nuts (almonds), fruit (an apple, freeze-dried strawberries, some dates, etc), and some kind of crackery or pretzely thing. This lunch makes perfect sense and is, in my opinion, nutritionally sound. He also responded well at times to a cheese/cracker/pepperoni construction. I would at times send those squeezy yogurt things--like Doing My Best said, frozen so they'd thaw by lunchtime. I think they're sugar bombs, but the school served them to the kids on occasion, so I figured if you can't beat them, join them.

I just read someone's suggestion of Luna bars and remembered that Lara bars would also be a great idea. Considerably more expensive than your current solution, though. But YUM.

Serial Monogamist said...

I'm sorry - but that teacher needs to get over herself. That's a perfectly nutritious meal for a little kid. I feel like people are always trying to feed kids too damn much! My niece and nephew are constantly being fed - Oh, you played soccer for half an hour! Here's a snack! But the snack is meal-sized. They have no concept of what a portion should be, so they're super chubbs. In an unhealthy way, not in a cute way.

OK. Sorry. Rant.

:)

the new girl said...

Have you ever seen a 4 square Lock & Lock box? It has four little, er, square compartments (hence the name, I suppose,) that you can remove if you want to put in something bigger. I use it to pack a fruit, a veg, a protein and a crunchy.

They don't cost much, I don't remember exactly what it cost. I think I got mine on Amazon. I'm just wondering if it might alleviate any further issues if your boy has a box that LOOKS as complete as it, in fact, IS. Sigh.

Tara said...

Sheesh. What you sent was healthier than most school lunches I've seen, particularly the peanuts and raisins. I once ate lunch with my son and was horrified at another child's packed lunch, because as far as I could tell, it consisted of a huge bag of Nilla wafers and a large bottle of Sunny D. Sugar, sugar, and more sugar--and no protein or healthy fats to get the kid through a long afternoon of school. But I didn't say anything, because I hadn't actually watched this kid eat his entire lunch. I may have missed something healthy-ish that preceded the sugar fest. And I'm not the nutritional police, last time I looked, although I would agree that some people (including those who plan school lunches!) need some education on what constitutes a nutritional lunch.

Anyway. . . I thought your "snacky" lunch was a BRILLIANT idea, and a great way to make sure your son gets the nutrition he needs. And even if I felt like I defended myself successfully when they called home to question it, I would have been FULL of righteous indignation at the need to defend myself in the first place. So I hear you, sister.

Sharri said...

My son doesn't like sandwiches in his lunch either and I always send him something like what you described. Some grain (crackers, pretzels, etc), some protein (pb, cheese, deli meat) and something that passes for fruit (barely - fruit snacks) because he doesn't like fruit once it's been sitting in his lunch box all day. Better than what they sometimes offer for school lunch!

Gentle Blue Mom said...

I'm a teacher and a parent, and my kids eat bento style lunches - rarely do they have a sandwich. They mostly have lunches that are varied with fruits, veggies, protein and grains. Their lunch is probably considered a snacky lunch and is a million times better than any lunchable or peanut butter sandwich (of which my kids can't eat at their nut free schools). I would never question the parent of a student who packs bento style or snacky style lunches. Once you're a parent, you realize that you're going to pick you battles when your kid is infront of you, not when they are away for 8 hours and need to learn.

My concern is with the kids who have two bags of cookies mixed with a yoohoo and a rice crispie treat for lunch. Or the child that comes to school with a half of a butter sandwich and nothing else.

I also prefer sending in bento boxes b/c it's better for the environment with less packaging and I can see exactly what my kiddos ate during the school day and what they left behind.

Anonymous said...

When I read your post, I felt reassured that the teacher was looking out for your son. Not that you did anything wrong, either, but aren't we always complaining about how kids are falling through the cracks at school? A teacher who cares so much about what the kids are having for lunch most likely has her heart in the right place.

ZDub said...

I would have stayed awake too. JESUS.

bananafana said...

in our school i can only imagine that the teachers would call to make you aware - as in, possibly this child has thrown his sandwich away on the way to school or maybe this child is packing their own lunch and we should ask mom in case she'd like him to have something else. that wouldn't be a particularly "typical" lunch but we have the same issue and we do the same thing . . . cheese, crackers, fruits, etc. is it possible they just wanted to make sure you knew? I'd feel less stewy and sleepless if that was the case. plus isn't the snacky stuff half the fun of the bento craze everyone and their brother is on right now?