While it was easily one of the quickest decisions we’d made, I haven’t been happier that we pulled our son from the hippie nut ban! school. Okay, so I was happier the one time I realized that marshmallows did really weird things when they were microwaved, but I’m pretty sure that I was wasted at the time.

I was unsure of our motives, because, quite frankly, Dave and I stuck out like a pair of brightly colored, mismatched, rain-forest-chopping-down, as-far-from-eco-friendly-as-one-can-be-without-driving-Hummers thumbs. Now, it’s not as though we don’t recycle or love Mother Earth, because we do, and if you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that I garden like I used to drink diet Coke (read: obsessively).

But, according to the other parents, it just wasn’t enough. Because if we shopped at Trader Joe’s, they shopped at Whole Foods. If we shopped at Whole Foods, they organically grew their own fruits and vegetables. While I am not a competitive person by nature, the other parents seemed to feel absolute moral superiority towards us both and quite frankly, it got old after 4 years.

Adding fuel to the fire was the poor communication between the school and the parents. Like this charmer of an example. What Dave was told was that our son “ran into a fence and got a little banged up.”

What I got was this:

Ben, Beaten Badly

This picture does not do justice to how beaten my child looked. It took ALL MY WILLPOWER not to comment on it, because with Ben, if you comment on something like a paper cut, suddenly he will expect sympathy cards and ice packs. And this? DESERVED SYMPATHY CARDS AND ICE PACKS.

So I admit that I was slightly annoyed by the downplaying of his injuries, mainly because I had to rely on acting skills *I* had never honed to not shriek when I saw him. I was also several weeks postpartum at the time, so the hormones may not have helped.

The nail in the proverbial coffin was the aw-shucks sort of after-thought type letter sent home right before school was set to begin for Ben, though, at the hippie nut ban! school. Because the school was so small, you see, we had to pack lunches for our children.

Maybe for other families, this was like the heavens opening up and shining down upon them, bento boxes neatly packed with nutritious choices like edamame and perfectly cut carrot coins, sandwiched between homemade whole grain crackers and cheese made from the milk of Buddhist cows.

There were, of course, lots of restrictions about what we could and could not pack. No refined sugars. No juice boxes. No chips. No candy. No cookies. No soda. Nothing that needed to be microwaved or prepared. Reusable containers. No brown paper bags.

In theory, none of this should have been an issue.

In theory.

But my darling son, Benjamin, is autistic. With food issues.

For an entire year, I tried all kinds of combinations of foods, and about 95% of the time, he’d come home with a full lunch bag, his lunch untouched. Certainly, while he was not starving to death, this troubled me.

Food issues were nothing new, but this particular medium–lunch food with millions of restrictions–was, and I was at a loss. The only, and I do mean the ONLY thing I could safely get him to eat was a peanut butter sandwich.

So the day that the leaflet arrived informing us that we could no longer pack anything with nuts, or nut oils, in our son’s lunch, The Daver and I looked at each other and (in uncharacteristic unison) said, “oh FUCK.”

(as a jaunty aside, what irritated me highly was that this was a very ill-researched ban. When pressed, after many desperate phone calls, the answer Dave got when he wanted to know how specific we needed to be about nuts–because nuts, nut oils, stuff that’s been manufactured in nut-producing facilities are in fucking EVERYTHING, was sort of a, well “ANYTHING with nuts.”

If you’re going to ban something, shouldn’t you understand it all a little better beforehand? Especially since the allergic child was a sibling of a student who didn’t even go to the school.)

So that was that, we plucked him out and plunked him into the public school system.

Where they have nut-free tables and nut-free snacks, but even better than that? THEY HAVE LUNCH LADIES.

*cue angels singing on high*

And with lunch ladies (*hums the lunch lady song*) comes lunch. HOT lunch. Lunch with choices! Glorious, glorious choices! Every single day *I* am not responsible for providing food for my son! If he doesn’t eat? I am none the wiser.

I no longer have to sadly throw out the old, pathetic, stale and untouched sandwich each night. I don’t have to throw out uneaten shriveled carrots, looking remarkably like flaccid penises (penii?), wondering how my child will gain weight. Nor do I have to flip coins or play rock, paper, scissors with The Daver to determine who is unlucky enough to have to try and make Ben a lunch he’ll never eat THIS time.


It is with great pleasure, pomp and circumstance that I write out a check every month to the lunch ladies, signing my name with an extra dose of pizazz because I am just that mother-fucking happy to be letting someone else cook for my child. I would TIP the lunch lady if I could, I love her so much. I might even bear her children, if she asked me.

And if, for some reason, I had to pack my son a lunch, I could EASILY pack him, like Dave and I were always tempted to do while Ben was at the hippie nut ban! school: a 5 pound bag of white sugar and a can of Mountain Dew. I don’t think ANYONE would say anything.

God BLESS the public school system.



114 thoughts on “A Love Letter To A Lunch Lady

  1. Pingback: A Love Letter To A Lunch Lady | weight loss
  2. One of my good friends here is the lunch lady at our local elementary school. She’s my hero, too.

    Your former school sounds psychotic.

    They were excellent for preschool, not so much for the upper grades. I’m sorry that I didn’t see it earlier.

  3. I think there is a lot to be said for the public school system, lunch ladies and all. Now that we have Adam, this is a real issue for me because I teach in Catholic school and always thought I’d send my kid there. Now, I don’t know. At least we don’t have any crazy bans other than “don’t send your kids with sodas and take out”

    No McDonalds? DAMN.

  4. Oh I hear you!

    Liam doesn’t go to a nut-free school AND he can get a hot lunch but he still doesn’t eat! Yesterday he had a mouse size nibble of a bagel (seriously he had to point out his “bite” cause nobody but him could see it) and he ate his blueberries. That’s it for 7 hours.

    Yet mysteriously I keep having to buy him bigger clothes…..

    Doesn’t that SHOCK you?

  5. Where do you even find a school like that. Hippie Nut Ban, not public schools…I know where to find them!

    BTW, this nut ban thing is a little rediculous. That and those people who are trying to ban celebrating for holidays or birthdays with food in classrooms. Can it be over done? Yes, but for crikies sake people. The Cupcake Police need to chill out.

    Sorry. I’m done now.

    Come on over, I will direct you.

  6. I hear ya! I went to a very old-fashioned Catholic elementary school where nuns really did hit kids, made us bang chalk erasers, and gave me chronic anxiety attacks that almost completely disappeared when I was plopped into public school in the middle of 6th grade. Now if only my parents had given in sooner, I might be a little less neurotic than I am now.

    You poor thing. I’m sorry.

  7. I admire your restaint; I drive an SUV (we live in Idaho. It snows a lot. WE camp. Four kids and a dog. ‘Nuff said) and I think if I had to take my kid(s) to a school like that I would be tempted to drive up in said SUV with the windows unrolled, smoking a CIGARETTE and slugging a liter of Coke while eating a plastic wrapped twinkie. and then I would throw the garbage out the window and laugh maniacally.

    (I used to pull up listening to Eminem sometimes. Tool others. Obviously, by the end, I didn’t give a shit. How could you? I was never going to win.)

  8. LOL! We can’t pack soda (because it explodes due to all the shaking about in the lunch boxes) but nothing has been mentioned about anything else. Our public school system said “We recommend packing a healthy lunch with lots of fruits & veggies” but if you want to send you kids in with HoHos and Hawaiian Punch no one is going to say anything to you.

    My kids rarely eat the hot lunches though. They claim the food doesn’t taste ‘right’ meaning the school uses Prego sauce instead of Ragu and Old El Paso taco seasoning instead of DeliMex like I do.

    I am SHOCKED that Ben prefers to eat the hot lunches, but he does. I did offer him the option to have me pack him a lunch UNDER THE CONDITION that he would help me pick out stuff to go into it.

  9. What a great post. This whole nut ban is just out of control. My husband teaches high school…HIGH SCHOOL…where a child should have enough sense NOT to eat something he or she is allergic to, and there is one kid with a peanut butter allergy, thus NO NUTS! I dunno, I think it’s a bit excessive. But then again, it’s not my kid, so maybe I’m just being naive.

    It’s such a hard thing to figure out. I don’t know what the answer is either.

  10. As I was making G’s peanut butter sandwich last night (on whole grain bread, so surely I get a point for that?!?!?) I honest-to-God was thinking of how sorry I felt for people who couldn’t pack lunches with nuts. I mean, where does it stop? Our schools banned the use of aerosol spray disinfectant b/c of asmatic kids, so I guess when my kid catches the swine flu I’ll have to go argue and plead the “who’s kid is more important” and “what complication is more deadly” game. GREAT

    I thank God for the Nut Free table and I thank God that my kid doesn’t have to sit there and I thank God that I can pack a PB sandwich if I have to.

  11. I kind of want a lunch lady for my house. Because it’d just be nice to not have to cook for myself.


    I’ll dress up and dance if you play guitar and sing. We could be like Sandler and Farley.

  12. Choosing a school is like choosing a husband – some years of the commitment are good, and some really suck. My rule is (in marriage as well as school issues) – when something really makes me angry (like with the fire of a thousand suns hot), I try to wait 24 hours before reacting with a call or an e-mail. This has kept my husband alive lol, and I am sure it has also managed to keep me from looking like a total shrew (instead of just a minor one) at the front desk.

    BTW – no nod to Adam Sandler’s epic lunch lady ballad????????


  13. I know that food allergies can be very dangerous, but I don’t understand how people think that they can impose their problems on everyone else. You’re not mainstreaming a child when you make everyone else accommodate their issues – you’re giving them unrealistic expectations of life.

    That picture of Ben…wow. I don’t know how you restrained yourself from throwing a huge fit.

    Here’s to the lunch ladies! My MIL’s friend was a lunch lady and she is wonderful.

    The lunch lady, I have met her, and she is wonderful. Simply wonderful. Ben loves her.

  14. We just switched from private to public school last year and OH MY I totally hear what you’re saying. There are so many other choices in public school…not just in regard to lunches, which are the bane of my existence. Hate packing them.

    And, even though I’m pretty sure that, grammatically, “penises” is the appropriate plural form of “penis”, but I like “peni” much, much better! LOL

    Then we shall use “peni.”

  15. Our school also doesn’t have many rules and regulations about food, just encourage healthy choices. If my son brought his sandwiches home, he wouldn’t get the next day. And that would encourage him to eat them the next day. If juice gets brought back it just goes back in the bag to drink again the next day. I’m on getting kid no. 3 through the school system and I get VERY easily irritated by nit-picking attitudes.

    It gets REALLY OLD REALLY FAST, doesn’t it? Like wait, YOU’RE a better parent because you shop at Whole Foods? OH. Okay. Right. I didn’t realize. DUH.

  16. God I was SOOO happy when 1st grade arrived and I no longer had to pack lunches. For three great years I wrote a check to the Lunch Lady and that was it. I do have my complaints, though. They could never find a way to effectively tell us when the child’s lunch fund was running low. Yes, please tell my seven year old she has $1.25 left and that will not be enough for lunch tomorrow. I’m positive that five hours later she will certainly remember to tell me.

    Then what happens is they “borrow” from the PTA fund. Then I get a nice envelope from the PTA requesting the money back, which, since I never carry cash, is a complete pain in the ass. And once I put the money in the envelope I have to hope that my child will somehow remember to give it to the appropriate person at school.

    Long story Long – 4th grade rolled around, and I’m packing lunches again.

    Dude! YES! Absolutely! I have the same problem. I DO get a note and then I send a check right away, but occasionally I don’t get the note until we’re like $7.00 in the hole. Which, I KNOW. THE HUMANITY!

  17. I just wrote a lunch check this morning and said a little prayer of thanks for hot lunch.

    I knew a kiddo who only ate bacon and drank flavored water. That’s it. And he was not autistic.

    Was it The Daver?

  18. Ahhh … school lunches …

    *WARNING* In middle school, when Ben hits the big “P” (ummm … PUBERTY) you’ll wonder if the lunch lady is getting a percentage of the sales to send her kids to Yale. The choices become TWO lunches and an extra cheeseburger – to the tune of $7.50

    Some days I wish mine wouldn’t eat!

    Bwahahahaha! True.

  19. I was just talking to someone about these NUT JOBS at these fancy schmancy schools that think they are superior to you because they buy food that says ‘organic’ on it or because they shop at Whole Foods or grow their own freaking food. IT REALLY PISSES ME OFF.

    What fun would school lunches have been if you didn’t have something GOOD to trade with the other kids….like Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot and GOLDFISH?!?


    So happy for you that you have a lunch lady!!!!!!!!!!

    I always reminded myself that some day, my son would consider Funyons a food group. In college? What the shit would I do about it?

  20. They tried to ban peanuts in an entire public school and wanted parents to sign a statement saying they would ensure that their child(ren) wouldn’t bring anything to school with peanuts in it and only fresh fruit for snack. My b-i-l has the common sense to say “WTF?” and refuse to sign it. Told the principal he needed to have his lawyer look at it. Also asked if the parents were responsible for making sure their kids didn’t have peanut butter on toast for breakfast because you know how kids are, their sleeves serve as napkins, and little Susie could have peanut butter on her pants or shirt and little Tommy could come in contact with it. Come to find out the “peanut allergy kid” (who will be forever known as that even though he had no part in what his crazy mother was doing!) didn’t even have a confirmed allergy. She just thought he might.

    Once we realized that the onus of responsibility fell to US PARENTS which, I’m sorry, is a HELL of a lot of burden for us to ensure that not only do we not pack a PB sammie for my kid, but that we don’t feed him PB for breakfast or anyone ELSE in the house PB before school. But that we don’t do anything with nut OIL either for a SIBLING every day of the week?

    That’s a burden. Without clear guidelines, a class instructing parents on proper handwashing, contamination, cross-contamination techniques, label-reading, OTHER protein ideas/suggestions to take the place of nuts, and so on and so on.

    No, a simple three sentence “we’re going nut free! no nut oils! nut products!” half-sheet memo? I wouldn’t have felt safe as that parent with the child with the nut sensitivity. Period. Talk about research that needed to be done.

  21. Our public school has a nut ban! But yes, the hot lunch option is excellent. My eldest child now in 1st grade is autistic, and I hate it when he brings his half-eaten lunch home. I’d rather just not know about it. But that darned hot lunch is so expensive that we can’t do it every day. Instead, it’s a total treat for him.

    Oops, I just remembered that I forgot to put a note in his lunch stating that his sandwich was soybutter, not peanut butter. There’s ONE allergic kid in the school, and she’s in another grade, and the grades don’t eat together. I try not to think mean things when I fondly remember the days of sending a little cup of trail mix along for my son to eat, and how that was the one thing that would be completely eaten.

    Last year I’m sure I racked up the milk fees – his teacher would never send notes home telling me if I needed to send more money, so I think I forgot for the entire last two months of school. Haven’t sent milk money this year either – and I know it’s not free!

    It’s really tough to balance it all. It really is. I’m sorry. I wish I had anything good to say.

  22. Dude, my kid is in daycare – he’s only 3, so he’ll be starting preschool next fall (tears!) – and they’ve now stopped making lunches for the kids to save money. Which, trying to save me money = great… But they have state regulations that have to be met as to what the kids need to be served. So I have to have so many servings of each food group. Thank god you can send two servings of fruit instead of having to send one fruit and one veggie, because the only veggie my son normally eats is corn. That’s it. God bless 100% juice Capri Suns and applesauce. I am still awaiting the state’s verdict on whether or not I can send Flat Earth veggie crisps as a vegetable serving. Cause he loves those. Even *I* like them. They’re cheddar flavored. And cheese? It makes just about any veggie tastes better.

    Yes, I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I love cheese like fat kids love mono-dyglycerides.


  23. OMG! I swear we just took our oldest two out of the same school! We had to provide waste-free lunches (nothing could be thrown out), they specificied the grams of protien the snacks needed to have, they composted and they even had the kids weigh the gargage the school produced. I liked some of it in theory but it made me crazy. The kids went there for the academics which were AMAZING and the rest was, well, I can’t reallly say icing on the cake because I like icing. A lot. We pulled them out this year because we couldn’t afford two kids at over $7,000 a year anymore (could we ever??) and they’re loving the middle school food ;).

    Dude. SAME SCHOOL! Not literally, but yeah, seriously. The academics weren’t good enough to warrant the bullshit.

    I bet your kids are loving on the food. So glad.

  24. I’m totally echoing Badass Geek . . . Amen!

    My only complaint about lunch at school is how little time they get to eat. Twenty minutes, and that includes walking to the cafeteria, standing in line, both at the hand sanitizer station and the counter, find a seat, eat, throw shit away, and then stand in another line waiting for their teacher to come and fetch them.

    Shovel and run . . .

    I know, right? I would bet you money that Ben eats maybe 3 bites of whatever it is EVEN IF he likes it.

  25. Just for the record, my non-child having self saw that picture of your cute, sweet little boy all scratched up and I wanted to scoop him up and hug him because he is so cute and precious and cute and precious things shouldn’t get all cut up like that.

    Going down to his hippie nut ban school and punching the recess attendant right in the nose was a second option though.

    I hope his lunch lady makes his sloppy joes extra sloppy for him.

    He actually LOVES sloppy joes. Which. REALLY? WILD. AWESOME. I’m seriously going to come to school some day and kiss her for me.

  26. Food pickiness. Fun! You would not believe the crap we pack him that passes for lunch. He will not eat bread (too squishy) dried fruit, regular pizza (tomato sauce offends him deeply)…. the list goes on. He survives on Goldfish crackers and Go-gurt. My 9-month old weighs roughly half as much as my six-year old- that is NOT an exaggeration.

    Ben only recently broke 50 pounds. He’s 8.

  27. I am SO OVER this nut allergy hysteria. I went to a public school growing up; at lunch we could sit ANYWHERE we wanted. Years later (as a semi-adult) I go to have lunch with my niece at the very same school & we’re told we cannot sit at a certain table. That table was for the “kids with nut allergies.” We obliged, but I was more than pissed when NOBODY SAT AT THE TABLE. When I asked another teacher the response was, “There MIGHT be kids with allergies. That’s where they’d sit if there were any.”

    When my son starts school I am sending him to school every day with a fat double-decker peanut butter sandwich.

  28. Alice doesn’t eat anything I send in her lunch, ever. I could send a pixie stick and brownie sandwich and she wouldn’t eat it. There have been times that I’ve sent the same lunch three days in a row. (peanut butter on rice snaps doesn’t get too nasty, besides, she doesn’t eat it anyway.) Often while I’m making her lunch in the morning I wonder why I bother. The school district has sent a form home to us to fill out about her gluten intollerence so that she can have lunch at school. For the second year in a row I am refusing to fill it out, mostly because I don’t want her labeled by her peers as “gluten girl.” And also because I’m a control freak and really don’t trust that they would provide gluten free meals for her.

    What ticks me off is that now the schools have started this “have a healthy lifestyle” garbage in Kindergarten. Carrots are good, cookies are bad. For my little OCD underweight darling this not a message she needs to constantly hear. I guess I just don’t understand why the schools are insisting on teaching kids something that parents should be teaching at home.

    I completely agree.

  29. And I’m totally echoing tysdaddy. Twenty minutes to eat is crazy. Especially since my son takes FOREVER to eat. Sometimes at dinner he’ll sit and eat for 45 minutes to an hour. And it’s not like I’m serving a multi-course meal. As if.

    I do pack a lunch for him though. My husband and I wanted to. And oddly enough, my son wanted to bring lunch from home, too. He was worried that if he didn’t like the school lunch he wouldn’t have anything to eat. I thought once he heard what was on the school lunch menu he’d change his mind, but he hasn’t. So far.

    Ben is going on a field trip tomorrow and I’m hyperventilating at the thought of what to pack him. But if he did want me to pack him a lunch, I would. IF he could provide me with ideas besides “a twinkie” that he would he. Wait, he probably wouldn’t eat that, either. To springy.

  30. ” … a 5 pound bag of white sugar and a can of Mountain Dew.”

    That would have been AWESOME. I’d have loved to see the looks on their faces if you’d done that! And it’s not like Ben would have eaten the uber-healthy, organic, nut- and cruelty-free lunch you would have otherwise sent with him!

    I don’t have kids myself (yet), but having been one once, I have to say–no juice boxes? At all? But juice boxes are wonderful! What about the ones that are 100% juice, no extra sugar or flavor or color added? You can even get them at Whole Foods, if you want to be extra earthy-crunchy about it. Or–is it about the fact that you *gasp* throw the empty box away, thereby contributing to the premature death of the planet?

    Ugh. Hooray for lunch ladies!

    Juice is *gasp* junk food, don’t you know that?!? I didn’t. Now I do. Water is the rage. In BPA free REUSABLE bottles.

    It’s SERIOUSLY enough to make your head spin.

  31. Buddhist cow cheese is funny! The organic parents, not so much. It’s funny how we (well, I) can be so desperate to affiliate with a peer group after the seeming isolation of parenting infants and pre-schoolers that we give crap like that a total assist.

    The Halloween costume/party thing is another example. One year it was going to be a Harvest Festival because one parent objected to Satanic rituals. The rest of us heathen, devil-worshipping, axe wielders and chainsaw murderers prevailed on that one. Unfortunately, “Winter Holiday” remains undisturbed.

    All you need to remember about decisions in schools is that they are made by a committee, generally composed of your intellectual inferiors who can claim rapid eye-blinking as innate talent. The only way to get around that is to muster and be loud.

    I. Love. You. Marry me?

  32. My daughter goes to a waldorf school. It’s Vermont and we’ve got no Whole Foods or Trader joe’s here, so it’s assumed that you of course grow your own food. I can’t even keep a house plant alive. BUT everyone at the school is pretty nice. There aren’t restrictions on food except to encourage good choices. Lucky for me that’s how lil monspun eats anyway.

    That’s awesome. Ben eats decently, it’s just a sack lunch is really hard to pack for him.

    Oh who the fuck am I kidding. Feeding that kid is so fucking hard that it’s made me hysterical before. There, I said it. Mother of the goddamned year.

    Pass the fucking vodka.

  33. My daughter won’t touch cafeteria food. We were sending money in and she was going through the line for months before she told us she was just eating the yogurt and drinking milk. Now she takes a lunchable every da but won’t eat the cheese. At least she’s eating something!

    Betsy – harvest festival our schools and church do the same thing. A few years ago my daughter went to the HF at church as a devil. It was priceless.

    You are my HERO.

  34. I realize some people die when they get nuts. Isn’t that called natural selection? Sorry, I have very little patience for that kind of crap. It’s called an epipen. Use it.

  35. I would have freaked FUCK if Zilla came home looking like that! Good Lord! I love that my kids have hot lunch every day. It makes me life a lot less complicated. I don’t have to fight with Zilla on what to put in his lunch. Nor do I have to listen to Nae roll her eyes when I try to put some carrots in her lunch. It’s glorious and beautiful each morning when I send them off to school with OUT a lunch. Ahhhhh it’s the simple things that make me happy.

    Every day, I thank God for hot lunches.

  36. My son went to private school last year, for Pre-K, and I did like it. Only because I didn’t know any better. I thought that getting notes from the teacher (emailed) every single day, complaining about my son’s behavior was just something I’d have to get used to. He’s ADHD, being treated for it, and has a few.. issues. He hits, you see. AND, he doesn’t eat in the middle of the day. I understand, hitting is awful, but how on earth do you really expect me to take care of the fact that you can’t manage to make the boy sit in time out when I’m at work?? I mean, isn’t it your job to be able to do this? I can do it just fine at home. And I dont’ even have to beat him! rofl

    Then I’d get notes home about how he’s not eating enough. Despite the fact that I _DO_ keep up with his weight, make sure the doc thinks it’s fine, and stuff him from morning until he won’t eat, and evening from when he gets home until bed. My boy wants a cookie right before dinner? Well, it’s extra calories. Have it. He’s right around 40 pounds at 5. He’s been dancing around this weight since he was 3ish.. Just keeps getting taller!

    Now that he’s in public school.. Wow. The difference is amazing. He has a teacher that can keep him in line, he isn’t getting in as much trouble, and he’s still not eating lunch. She doesn’t send any notes home about it, though! *happy dance*

    I love public school.

    EXACTLY. EXACTLY. EXACTLY. Except I never had any freaking CLUE what Ben did in school. Ever. Their communication was terrible.

  37. I loved the lunch ladies when I was in school. It was like the choirs of heaven burst into song whenever she announced 2 for 1 pizza.

    Uh-huh. We got pizza. Greasy fatty ooey-gooey cheesy artery-clogging pizza. At a CATHOLIC school.

    Previous to going there I had gone to a (hippie) different school. They made us eat tofu, and organically grown sweet potatoes, and flaxseed crackers. And we all had to contribute to the compost pile somehow. And don’t forget to Which is all fine and well, but sometimes one gets a craving for junk food. NOT ALLOWED. and the recycling! If one of the hippie lunch ladies saw you throw a piece of plastic in the trash, it apparently merited a 30 minute lecture about how our planet was going to pot and it was because of people like me.

    I was in second grade. So sue me. I’m all for recycling, but I kind of feel that was a bit…excessive. We also weren’t allowed to talk. Lunch was strictly for consuming food, not for shenanigans like talking and *egads* making friends.

    Anyways, when I switched (my parents got sick of the BS after six years), I was in heaven. Lunch Ladies? Oh yea. They’re on my hero list.

    Special place in heaven.

  38. Food snobs. Sigh.

    As if your son’s food issues weren’t enough of an obstacle course, you get the school’s overlay. It’s like you’re in a minefield and can’t move without setting something off.

    I’m fucked. That’s the long and the short of it.

  39. Our school preaches healthy eating. But to look at the lunch menu you’d never know it. Almost every lunch is packed with carbs, bread, rolls pasta.
    Heaven forbid we want to send a snack for the class.After trying to figure out something that would be appropriate we gave up. No refined sugars chips etc. I think it left rice cakes as an option.

    Bwahahahaha! We used to have to do Snack Time at the hippie Nut Ban! school a couple times a month and I was always, ALWAYS stumped. Usually, I’d go with pretzels and peanut butter. Which was obviously about to go out the window. Oh well.

    But I feel your pain. Laughed my ass off at your comment.

  40. I would have sent the sugar and the Mt Dew, just to eff with them. But then, I’m bitter like that.

    Sounds like you made the right choice for him, glad he’s able to eat (or not) now. =)

    I really regret NOT doing that.

  41. The lunch lady at my elementary school was a good friend of my grandma’s (who was a high school lunch lady) so i was spoiled (extra desserts and peanut butter balls [GASP! I know!]), therefore I personally think lunch ladies are awesome.

    Peanut butter balls. nom nom nom nom

  42. I was always afraid to pack anything other than PB&J’s for my son. I mean, cold cuts and tuna have to stay cold, and relying on ice packs just freaks me out when it comes to massive bouts of vomiting and explosive diarrhea.

    I gladly pay for whatever they’re making at school. We don’t even look at the menu. They always have bagels and fruit, so he never goes hungry.

    Oh, and I would have FREAKED if they played down that injury on my kid’s face. FREAKED!!!

    This was many days afterward. It was WORSE when it first happened. Jesus wept, Lola.

  43. So what you’re saying is….a bag of sugar and a can of Mountain Dew are NOT a suitable meal? Well I’ll be damned.

    My son, child #2, will only eat peanut butter and fluff on whole wheat for lunch. We got a note this year that the snacks (eaten in the classroom) had to be peanut free. So much for the granola bars he loves so much.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I (in theory) agree that there’s certain issues a school has no business being involved in. That being said, I have seen the size of some of the children walking around our elementary school. It’s painfully obvious that their parents aren’t teaching them one goddamned thing about nutrition and healthy habits. Unfortunately, the schools have been forced to step in and pick up the slack. And don’t be fooled by those uber-skinny little kids chowing down on the Cheetos because their parents claim “it’s the only thing he’ll eat”….those shitty eating habits they’re creating right now will catch up with them sooner than later in the form of juvenile diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart attack at 25 years old, and a stint on the Biggest Loser.

    I have no issues with teaching kids about healthy eating. None. But feeding my kid? SUCKS. That’s all. He’ll gladly eat the same thing all day every day.

  44. I hate making packed lunches. They suck. And they can never be as healthy as a good hot meal. I wish Belgian schools had lunch ladies. All that bloody cooking at night, and then the children too tired to eat the two vitamins we try to get into them.


    Damn kids. Always playing on my lawn.

  45. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before.

    That picture makes my blood boil. WTF is wrong with people?
    Moving on, schools need to mind their own business. It is the parent’s job to feed their kids and if they do a bad job, well, shit happens. I mean the school is not going to get the kids healthy or make them eat right. Kids eat one meal, a rushed meal at that, and hell, they don’t eat most of it anyway, at school…how is that ONE meal a day going to make the fat kids thin and healthy???

    BUTT OUT is what I have to say!!!

    They were a little too involved, weren’t they? So were the parents. I feel sorry for the kids. When they go to college? Seriously, the parents are gonna FLIP.

  46. First? That picture of Ben made me so sad. Makes me want to give him and hug and fill him full of ice cream.

    Lunch ladies are an interesting bunch. They’re the butt of so many jokes, have to deal with the cruel banter of kids, and have to wear those damn hair nets. God love ’em. Glad I’m not one!

    I didn’t let him near a mirror. It must not have bothered him at all, poor baby.

  47. Ey yi yi!
    First off, my kid barely eats lunch either. I pack some of the worst crap for him because I want him to EAT something. Yesterday he had pizza rolls and Yo Go’s. Today he wanted leftover Chinese take out. About once a month I take him In & Out Burger or some other fast food because he will eat it!
    Second, he has had a girl in his class that has a severe peanut allergy. I feel for the mom living in fear sending her kid to school. BUT the school simply made sure she has a safe place to eat that is peanut free. When we had class parties, the parents were all understanding that we didn’t want to exclude her (she’s a total sweetie so that helps) and we made sure to have food that was safe for her. But that was a special occasion – not EVERY SINGLE DAY. We can pack (and I’ve seen some worse stuff than I pack!) whatever we want.
    Third, this year DS’s teacher asks us to send in a snack for the kids every day. She said it’s a “No Sugar” zone. Which I think is purely so that her class isn’t insane by afternoon. They cut out the morning recess for the 3rd graders so instead they take a few minutes in the classroom for a little snack and downtime before they transition to the next lesson. I can only imagine if everyone was sending in Twinkies how crazy the kids would get and how sticky their fingers would be. So that part, eh, I don’t have a problem with. He gets a little sugar in his lunch.
    Fourth, I’m trying to be less wasteful with lunch packing stuff – trying to use re-useable containers etc. But that’s me being cheap. I’m sick of paying for all those plastic baggies, juice boxes etc. I can wash one and it doesn’t cost me anything but the water & soap.

    Good move on changing schools. I hate being told what to do and how to parent. If I want to do it, it’s my business but don’t tell me I have to!

    None of those ideas are bad at all. In theory. I never packed the kid a chocolate bar, although maybe I should have….

  48. I loved it when I finally was able to convince Mack to eat hot lunch. I only had one issue when she was younger with an evil lunch lady. The kids have a “5 digit code” to punch into a key pad for their lunch account, it’s given to them in kindergarten and the same number follows them all the way to high school (which is fine for older kids but 5 year olds was a little hard), if their “account” is getting low, or negative they are supposed to tell the kid so you can send in the check. One time Mack kept forgetting to tell me, and the stupid bitch that was running the line tried to tell her that she couldn’t eat. They did let her eat, but made a big deal about it in front of all of her friends. She was negative by $5. I was one pissed off momma.

    I also would like to know what sassy thing goes on the memo line of your checks to the school……


  49. This is an awesome post. I love it all. Seriously though even though Public schools rock… I think there were a lot of things that were different back in the day that were better then they are now–

    Exclusing the lunch lady of course.

    My lunch lady was mean, if I remember correctly. Ben’s is really nice.

  50. Call me old school, but I just cannot believe that the school thinks they have the right to tell you what you can and cannot feed your child for lunch! When I was in jr high, I used to buy an ice cream sandwich and Fritos for lunch every day. (They’re good together. Really! You should try it.) If the school wants a say in what goes into my kids lunch, then they should send someone to my house every morning to help pack it.

    Ummm, yeah. And so, because I really hate packing lunches anyway… I’ve been writing checks to those lovely lunch ladies for 11 years. 😉

    These parents are in for a rude awakening when their precious snowflakes–this was the same school poor Ben had a bully at, did I mention?–go to college to chug beer and eat shitty pizza all day long.

  51. “peanut butter and fluff on whole wheat” The whole wheat makes it healthy! Mm-hm. *nods sagely* *LOVES her peanut butter and fluff sandwiches*

    I meant to say earlier about the picture of Ben–his former school could be completely rabid about what you put in his (reusable, recycled, biodegradable) lunchbox, but somehow sending him home looking like he had been BEATEN in the face with a fence and offering little more than a dismissive “oh, accident” explanation was perfectly acceptable? My head would have exploded too! (And then some other people’s heads would have exploded. I’m gonna make an interesting mom.)

    But, awful rage-inducing injury aside–how adorable does Ben look in that picture in his little corduroy blazer? (Very adorable, that’s how much. You’ve got such cute kids, Aunt Becky.)

    I am learning so much about what being a parent nowadays is like from this blog!

    (I hope that I am not scaring you away from parenthood)

    And the hypocrisy is breathtaking, isn’t it? I never knew anything my son DID at school, but shit, if I THOUGHT about giving the kid a Dorito, well, FUCK ME GENTLY.

  52. Lemme finish before you roll your eyes at me, Aunt Becky. My son is SEVERELY allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and sesame. I’m extremely careful about what foods come into the house (and if we had a whole foods, I’d probably shop there). That being said, kids can be taught to not share foods, wipe down the table with a handi wipe before eating and not touch their mouths or eyes in public unless they’ve just washed their hands. One reaction to something with the always fun epi pen and trip to the ER and this just becomes a way of life, not an extra burden. I would never dream of asking an entire school to ban something (alhough I do inform them of the allergy for emergency reasons). Also I have been known to eat an entire box of chocolate donettes for dinner occasionally and whole heartedly lurve PAyla Deen and her obsession with butter. 🙂
    navy beans navy beans navy beans!

    See, THIS I have no problem with. Nut allergies? Are FREAKY. I really feel for anyone who has them. I’m sorry that you have them (I am allergic to wasps, similar, although wasps aren’t in FOOD. So, different.) and dealing with them sucks.

    I disagree entirely on the way that the school handled them. Not that a nut ban shouldn’t have been enacted, but the burden of researching how to handle it all should have been on the school, not on all of us parents. CERTAINLY, I would have read labels, had I not had it up to here with the school already. But giving us a leaflet and telling us to learn up on it? Inappropriate. Simply inappropriate. Not just for us, but for that kid’s family (it was a younger sibling of a student, not a student).

    *I* wouldn’t want to lay the burden in the hands of 60 other people to “do the right thing” at the risk of *my* child’s health. Not a chance. That’s not fair for anyone. The school behaved completely inappropriately. For us AND for the family. Does that make sense?

    The public school educates us on that stuff (I’m a nurse and I know all about it anyway) and send home all sorts of materials about it AND teach the kids about it.

  53. Some days, I think I am your twin. Today is one of those. My almost-7 yr old son is also autistic and we have had fights with his previous school over everything from his clothing and hair to his lunches. No pants with buttons or zippers (because goodness knows it would take precious time away from filing their nails), the “doesn’t his hair look a little… fuzzy?” notes sent home in his backpack and, of course, the panicked “He won’t eat grits! We can’t give him cereal because he’s *lactose intolerant*. All he eats is applesauce on grits day!” phone calls. First of all, grits are nasty. Second, he’s MILDLY lactose intolerant. Cereal won’t kill him. Third, when I last checked, applesauce was food, and not even unhealthy food. If the school can serve honey buns for breakfast, I shouldn’t get a phone call about applesauce.

    I won’t even get myself started on the school that wouldn’t allow students to talk. Anywhere.

    Oh. My. God. *jaw drops*

  54. Sorry “Paula” Deen. What was up with the auto spell check?

    P.S. Sunflower butter tastes almost exactly like peanut butter yet isn’t usually a “banned” food 🙂

  55. I understand the aggravation with nut bans. However, I work in daycare and we do the same thing. No nut products at all. In our case its a safety/state mandated thing. Noone wants to get sued because someones kid shared his nutty bar with his friend and the friend went home looking like a balloon. Shrug. As a parent myself, i can say this: Parents are fucking maniacs about their kids. Caregivers have to protect not only the children they are responsible for, but themselves too. Now as far as “running into a fence’? Yea. Not cool. If we were to give a parent a lame excuse like that we would be fired. In a heartbeat. My child had her pants pulled down and was “spanked” On the playground by a little boy her age. The teacher told me that when they told dad he laughed. HE LAUGHED!!! Then said “thats my boy.” I have a boy and two girls. I get it. Kids are kids. But seriously? What if that was YOUR son, MR. Douche-dad?
    …. um… tangent over….

    See, I have no problem with well-researched bans. But to tell me I can feed my kid pretty much air? Not cool. Like I said, it was the icing on the cake. Nut allergies are freaky. Seriously.

  56. I live in England and the norm is for a school to be nut free, but very few people here eat peanut butter so it’s no big deal. Packed lunches are no junk food, no sugary drinks, no sweets. My four year old has hot dinners and the whole country had a review on hot school meals a couple if years ago, so now these are all super healthy, nothing processed 🙂 our school has a veggie garden where the children grow their own veggies. This is a state school btw, not a private school. I quite like it, I know he has a hot healthy meal at lunch which leaves me free to worry about other things instead of slaving over a hot stove making the perfect meal every night.

    I flipping HATE peanut butter, so I’d be GREAT without nuts. I can’t tell you the last time I ate a peanut. BLECH. And you Brits seriously have it all figured out. I want to love there so badly.

  57. I was pissed when I saw what your son looked like. Yes I’m one of those nurotic parents who will LOUDLY stand up in defense of any child -and a child who looks like that would have been wheeled into the school with ice packs while I screeched, “IS THIS WHAT YOU ALLOW TO HAPPEN TO YOUR STUDENTS, IS THIS SCHOOL SAFETY?”
    Forget the lunch issue which makes no flippin sense to me – ok at our school we have to bring store bought items without nuts for parties, but the lunches – we pack whatever we want. Do you not teach your kid that he has an allergy? Do you not teach him not to share food with others or he may become ill? And why can’t we all have a cookie each day – they are good for the soul – especially homemade chocolate chip ones.
    Ok – I need to quit typing before this rant gets out of control – this is your post.

    I just love you.

  58. Okay, seriously? The world has gotten ridiculous. Where is the accountability? Fricken A, in a few years, the world will be issuing out personal robots to protect our air, our food and our possessions from the evils of junk food and everything.

    But we’ll still be able to fall face first into a fence with cuts almost needing stitches, thank goodness.

    Dude. There will be sharks with freaking LASER beams.

  59. Hopefully Jack won’t take after his father, who had major food issues (not to mention allergies to practically everything). I, on the other hand, would eat absolutely anything, anytime, with the baby pictures to prove it.

    Thanks for the encouragement the other day. It’s nice to hear it from people who have been there.

    It’s hard, and I’m sorry.

  60. I love school lunches, too. It’s so easy to just pay the money and let the kids choose from the “healthy” options. Go figure that this year the boys decided they both want to take their lunches every day. At least the oldest one is old enough to pack his own, but I have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t just have a pack of chips and some granola bars in his bag.

    Ben would pack an apple and a bottle of water. Neither would be touched.

  61. Wow. I am so lucky to live where I do. When my kids were tykes in elementary school they always got “Uncrustables” in the cold lunches on field trips. After the first go round, I ordered a kids lunch for myself so I could bypass lunch meat and get a PB&J.
    I have heard of these ridiculous schools that ban everything, and I always wonder when the hell it’s going to get to a point that we end up sending our kids to school in full body condoms. Where do we draw the line? Some kid has a nut allergy, and the entire school gets punished? Huh? If my OWN child had a nut allergy I would still have nut products in my house, I would just take precautions and NOT FEED THEM ANY!
    This PC bullshit fries my nerves. Everyone is trying to be so damn nice, but it ends up screwing everyone else in the process.

    What I SHOULD have added here is that Ben had a BULLY there. And at public school? NO BULLY. Yeah. Exactly.

  62. I have so many comments on this subject – but Kanye West thought someone else’s comment was the best of all time and interrupted me.

    Plus- I was busy milling my own wheat, when my gluten-tree-nut-free-sustainably-farmed-cork from my fucking wine bottle accidentally fell into the wrong composte bin causing a whole flurry of downward spirals and I wound up sending a (heaven forbid!) brand name of high fructose corn syruped penaut butter sandwich to school wrapped in a PCB laiden ziplock baggie. My bad- I guess.

    so why was your kid all beaten up?? you don’t get like that from running into a fence…I woulda sued that school..

    Bwahahaha! I should have!

  63. When we were describing Ava’s school to my dad he said, “Jeez, you always brought PB&J for lunch, if she does it, she’s a serial killer.”

    Juvenile Delinquent.

  64. this actually makes me angry. if your child has a nut allergy make sure they learn to pay attention to what goes in their mouth. i had a nut allergy and my school never banned nuts. then again, i went to school in an age where the only health class lesson was ‘don’t smoke, dirtbags!’ and overalls were cool.

    Overalls aren’t cool now?

  65. I love the lunch ladies because when I was little they would always give me more mashed potatoes and gravy than all the rest of the kids. Quite possibly because when I was in the 3rd grade ALL the kindergartners were bigger than me……anyway, they all knew that I loved LOVED mashed potatoes and gravy. So they would pile my tray up with them. Other kids got a kick out of how cute it was for the smallest girl in school to eat her weight in mashed potatoes and gravy………anyway, I was in the second or third grade when I over did it on mashed potatoes and gravy. . .I threw up a whole lot. It was so gross. . .I still love school mashed potatoes and gravy.

    I’m so sicked out on the Topamax, but right now I could totally go for some old school mashed potatoes and gravy. Wonder if I could sneak into school with Ben tomorrow.

  66. Lord. You need a t-shirt that says I <3 plastic goods made in China! And Sugar! Go Diesel Fuel! (and I want one too).

    We don't live in the same city, but I guess sanctimonious tree huggers DO exist even outside of the great Birkenstocked Pacific Northwest. I've just been reeling from my own encounters with the ways in which do-gooders are just, you know, so puritanical in their approach to living. What gives? All my eco-friendly friends would claim to be radicals, but it's so LIFE hating, all this not-this, not-that.

    Ahem. Sorry. This is about you. And Ben. And freaking HOT LUNCH made from only nuts, sugar, animal fats, endangered species and caffeine.

    What gives, Aunt Becky? When did being a hippie become being all pilgrim-Amish-dour-sourpuss-colorless?

    I bet these assbags hated listening to The Dead, too. Fuckers. They were all about who could be More Green than the next.

  67. First tuime poster, but I love reading your blog! You rock! I am with the other poster who said she would have sent him to the hippie school with a five pound bag of sugar and a Mountain Dew. For hell sakes, who are they to tell you what your kid can and can’t eat?

    We have kids with nut allergies at our school, but the parents send an epipen to keep at the school, tell the classroom teacher and teach their allergic kid how to handle their allergy.

    I have two children that will eat hot or cold lunch (thank you God) and one who will.not.eat.anything. Seriously. He refuses to eat hot lunch, and then I have to tie myself in knots trying to find something he WILL eat for cold lunch. He does eat PB, so that goes in his lunch pretty much every day. He won’t eat vegetables of any kind. He won’t eat lunch meat, or tuna. He eats some fruits, but it really depends on the day. He has been this way from birth, and no amount of asking, begging, or threatening will change it. I always use to think people with picky eaters were just letting their kids get away with it, but if we try to make him eat something he doesn’t like, he just won’t eat until the next meal. Or the next.

    He will eat sweet things (of course), so I make cookies with whole wheat flour and he doesn’t know the difference.

    Schools have no right to tell you how to feed your kid.

    No. They don’t. I do NOT mind, for the record, adjusting my kids lunch to not include a PB sammie if a kid is allergic, but the other restrictions must be lifted in accordance. You need to give me something else if you’re taking something away.

  68. You just brought back an awesome memory.

    One year (I think I was in 5th grade?), at Halloween, our school principle announced that no one was to bring candy to school, and that any candy would be confiscated.

    The next day my mom packed me a GIANT EFFING HERSHEYS BAR and told me to have them call her if they tried to take it away. Because she’d be damned if she was going to let them tell her what to feed her kid. (Please note that my mom was very responsible about my diet and usually packed carrots, and even made me promise to drink white milk except on Fridays, a promise I surprisingly kept, thinking my mom would smell the chocolate on me later).

    Nobody said anything to me.

    My mom was a lunch lady.

    Your mom is my hero.

  69. The rules at that Hippie Nut Ban school are as ridiculous as the fucking zero-tolerance rules at public school. They actually say that if your kid gets hit and responds to defend themselves that your kid will get suspended too. I told my kids (in front of the principal) that under no circumstances were they to EVER through the first punch but, if they ever got hit/punched/jumped, they had my full support and permission to use all skills in their arsenal to defend themselves and that I would deal with the school system afterward.

    I’d never heard of this one, but I totally agree with you.

  70. Lunch ladies (and gentlemen) are golden!
    And to all mothers who are considering sending out helpful emails reminding the parents of the children in their child’s Kindergarten class that healthy snacks are just as easy to prepare/buy as cupcakes; remember this, you will be mercilesslly mocked by emails sent by every other mother in the class but one or two, who will remain silent because they don’t want to get involved. You will be forever branded a whackadoodle mom and ostracized at Back to School (and when did this become B2S?) nights and Moms’ Nights Out. You will never win a PTA election and if you do win unopposed, no one will listen to you. This is true.


  71. My friend just switched her son to a very hippie sounding private school somewhere just north of downtown Chicago – she said they have “green” lunches, and they’re a very nature oriented, mother earth loving type of montessori school. Maybe it’s the hippie nut ban! school! Oh well, not my problem – that’s all hers lol.

    I wish her all the best of luck. I hope that she has many hours of the day to devote to thinking of awesome snacks and lunches and treats.

  72. Guess who oversees private schools in Illinois? Go on guess!

    Did you guess no one, they can do what ever the fuck they want?!??!!?
    Then you win or your kid loses, ya know which ever.

    *sighs* I should have known.

  73. Which side of the wall was this school on? Wait…I thought Reagan got them to “tare down that wall”.

    It’s the Butter Battle Book all over again, I swear.

  74. My son is twelve now (will be 13 in December) and he would have never survived the first three years of life.

    Fast forward to now, and my 5 year old also resorts to pnut butter and jelly over everything else. She is not allowed to take nut products of any kind to school, or she has to sit at a table all by herself. It is easily the stupides thing I have ever heard of. And trust me, with four of them in school and lunches at $2.00 a day, I don’t make near enough money to buy their lunches everyday. It pisses me off like nobody’s business.

    The final straw happened when I attempted to apply for reduced meals which I qualify for. However, because C and my bonus daughter live in our home, they count C’s income too. How happy am I? I can’t get married, I can’t get insurance benefits, and now I can’t get reduced lunches because that is the one and only thing they will count us as a couple for.

    Sorry for the rant, but man does this piss me off!!!!!

    Aw, Becca, I’m sorry.

  75. I was never so grateful as when Jake entered high school, where they could care less if a kid eats lunch at all, much less what’s in it.

    Jake’s school was nut free as well-which actually was the least of my worries, since I also can’t eat nuts so it was a non-issue.

    However, Jake’s school was involved in a pilot project where they instilled healthy eating habits in the kids. Which in theory is all fine and dandy to teach, but it becomes a slippery slope when we start criticizing what the kids are bringing in their lunches. According to the law here in BC, schools are NOT allowed to take away food or dictate what goes into lunches.

    There was no notice home, but suddenly there was a lot of flack about any sort of treat, juice, chips, or whatever was deemed ‘unhealthy’ that week. A chocolate chip granola bar may not be okay, a home made brownie was fine. Jujubes were out, but fruit roll ups were okay.

    I was tearing my hair out. He was told he couldn’t bring seafood/fish because a child in the class claimed that it made him throw up(no allergy), there was a nut ban, Jake is lactose intolerant, allergic to soy/corn, reacts to MSG and red food dye, sugar of any sort is evil, and what the hell is left?!?!

    The straw that broke the camel’s back came when they went on a skiing field trip and I sent a snicker’s bar. (no peanut allergic kid in the class) Having grown up in Canada’s back country skiing, I know that Snickers are actually one of the BEST things you can have with you when you are skiing, for the quick energy.

    The teacher wouldn’t let him eat it, saying he didn’t need the sugar.

    I marched in there later and told them that I know the law, and if I so choose to I could send my kid to school every day with a box of cookies and a six pack of Coke, and they couldn’t do anything about it. I am a meticulous, anal parent when it comes to packing lunches and I RESENT schools sticking their nose in my kid’s lunch box. The chocolate bar was a ONE time thing because of the field trip.

    I am for healthy eating, but good God, let’s practice some moderation. I have worked in 100 + schools over the years and in general, kids have fairly healthy lunches. Thing is, stuff like instant noodle cups and chocolate pudding may be deemed as unhealthy, but they are cheap and might be all some parents can afford. To penalize and shame kids for something they have no control over is just WRONG. I have heard stories of schools calling social services to report a parent for sending their child with a sandwich on WHITE BREAD, for God’s sake.

    What, they are the food police now?

    My message to the school was clear; what you are doing is illegal. Stay out of my kid’s lunch box or I will go over your head. They left me alone after that.

    Ps..I would have fought the nut ban since the child in question didn’t even attend the school. In Jake’s case, before he was diagnosed as lactose intolerant I asked the school what they would do if he was allergic to milk. The said nothing. I replied that since Jake wasn’t allowed to eat fish/seafood because it upset the delicate nasal passages of another child, then I’d expect milk products should be banned from his classroom. The next week he was allowed to bring fish/seafood.

    P.s.s…OH! And what pisses me off so entirely is the very SAME staff that stand there and berate kids for having treats in their lunch are going to the staff room and eating the very things the kids are told they shouldn’t be eating. It’s ridiculous.

    I love you. That is all.

  76. OMG! I love you! And I feel your pain. I sent snacks to my kids’ classroom during week two and was told NOT to send granola bars or fruit snacks because they contained nuts and red dye. And mine are already in public school!

    This happened to Ben, too. I made the grave error of packing a chocolate chip granola bar one day and he was called out IN FRONT OF THE CLASS for it. Uh. No. Assbag.

  77. Wait, wait wait … an entire school had to go nut free … because a SIBLING of a student was allergic? What the crap? Do they only shop at nut-free grocery stores? Only go to nut-free playgrounds? Nut-free restaurants? Are they living in a nut-free bubble?

    Its not so much that there was a nut-ban, though like you said, something more than “no nuts” would have been good guidance. But for a SIBLING, not even an actual STUDENT? Teach the student to wash his hands before he goes home and leave everyone else alone! Small children have to be protected until they can protect themselves; I’ll buy that argument for nut-bans. But if the kid isn’t even IN THE SCHOOL .. ?


    Private school is much like living in a housing development, it seems. You pay exorbitant fees for someone to make up ridiculous rules that you must follow. Because, you know, Americans only like freedom in theory, apparently. When it’s time to be a grown-up and make choices for yourself and your children, they’d like to pass that responsibility off to a committee.

    Which is precisely why after exactly one day in attendance, I yoinked him out of there. After finding out that it was for a sibling I said, thank you and good night. I’m sure they were happy to see me go.

  78. But what I really want to know is, do you write “Butt Sex” on the memo line of the check to the lunch ladies? 😉

    Nope. “THIS IS A HOLD UP.”

  79. Pingback: A Love Letter To A Lunch Lady
    1. I love lunchladies. I am a lunchlady and have been one for almost 30 years. People do not seem to understand how school lunch programs work and they are different in different states. The school lunch program could not operate without funding from the government which is paid on a monthly basis in regards to how many children receive free and reduced lunches. In my kitchen we serve cheeseburgers, pizza, spaghetti and meat balls, etc. All the food kids love. But we also serve fresh fruit and vegetables everyday. Apples, oranges, grapes, carrot stix, celery stix,etc. It’s amazing how well they will eat their vegetables with a little ranch dressing on the side. They don’t even know that it is fat free, reduced calorie ranch dressing. It is possible to serve what kids like and also make sure they are receiving proper nutrition that they need. I have children who come to school crying because they are hungry because they didn’t get anything for supper the night before. Don’t always believe what your children are saying about their lunch. It has always been the thing for people to gripe about school lunches and to tell their parent they are not good. We receive nothing but praise from most of our kids for our meals. It is satisfying to know after a long day that maybe you made a difference in a kids life just be giving him something nutritious to eat. I’m proud to be a lunch lady!!!!

  80. Whoooo! Just got back from open school night. The evil Nazi ban on cupcakes for birthday parties has been lifted. And the people sang and there was much rejoicing.

    I totally feel you on this lunch thing. It’s hard enough just to get them to and from school and activities, no less to worry about so many restricting factors keeping their tummies empty.

    Sometimes, you just got to wonder what is really going on with all the bans. SURE we all want our kids to have the best starts. But I want the best things in life and sometimes? I have McDonalds instead of an organic free-range zen chicken breast.

  81. i would have grabbed the person who said “yeah he’s banged up a bit,” by the sustainably developed organically grown cotton vest and gotten right in their burt’s bees patchouli scented face and HAD A FUCKING COW on their greasy, unwashed, tandem bike riding, clove burning, dirty, hippy head.

    I was too shocked to do anything, which speaks VOLUMES.

  82. my son’s preschool is nut-free, we are responsible for snacks for the class but only about twice a month…. in my son’s class is a child who cannot have gluten, though I have not been asked to make sure my snacks are gluten free, I do because geez, I feel bad that a 4 year old should have to sit and watch other kids eat things she cannot. I guess I don’t mind the nut free thing, there are few things scarier than having a nut allergy, and if I am not mistaken EACH exposure to nuts can result in a worsening reaction (sometimes one epi pen is not enough)…. my daughter had a reaction to (of all things) a dog lick a couple of months back, the hives all over her face appeared within moments and we raced to the ER (my daughter was 13 months old then)…… I will likely not forget the fear. I don’t know what the answer is though… perhaps just better communication.

    As for the photo, HOLY COW I would have probably thrown a fit.. run into a fence my behind!

    Believe me, he looked BETTER than he had.

  83. If my kid came home looking like that (aside from the part where he is freaking adorable underneath all the gashes), I would have gone bat-shit crazy on the school’s director. Jeeebus!!

    I will have Lunch Lady Land in my head for the rest of the night, but totally worth it. Great post!

    I’ve had “Piece of Shit Car” in my head. It’s grand.

  84. i did the reverse of what ben is going through. i went to public schools until the 8th grade, when i switched to private schools. the public schools in memphis kind of blow. well, they really blow. i remember in like the 4th grade, we had SOME kind of soup, but no one ate it. one of my classmates seriously had something swimming in it. we also had chicken fries; those were awesome. a bunch of us would pool them together on someone’s tray and we would build like a house like they were lincoln logs. then we’d eat them.
    in middle school, i started making my own lunch. mainly, because, not only did i know something wouldn’t be wiping its dirty little carapace all over my food, but i could pack diet coke. OH MY GOD. simple pleasures. put that in the freezer overnight (but not too close to the cooling vent or else it would explode. that is NOT fun to clean up) and it would be melted by lunch time and ICE-FREAKING-COLD. public schools don’t have soda machines, just juice. the education blew and people weren’t nice, so i went to the uber-rich, snotty college-prep school here. we seriously had NBA player’s family go there. anyway, we were a nut-free campus, but there were like 1000 of us, pre-k to 12th, and there were a handful of people deathly allergic to peanuts. so it was cool. i can’t remember if we were allowed coke, but we had lunch ladies and THE FOOD WAS AMAZING. loved it. seniors got to skip in line too, so when the pizza bar was open (i know, snazzy), we got the fresh, hot pieces first.
    once i went to college (another private school), my best friend and i (who went to high school with me) just stood in front of the vending machines in our hall and just looked at all the hershey’s and mars products (they have products with peanuts so they were no-nos in high school) along with a coke machine. and there was coke in the cafeteria.
    but lunch ladies are amazing. funny side story. a friend of mine who lived down the hallway had an issue with her roommate. her roommate would bring guys into the room and sleep with them WHILE SHE WAS IN THE ROOM. and the best part? it was the dude that mans the grill in the cafeteria. it was hilarious and tragic at the same time. yes, she moved out.

    Now I want an Ice Cold Coke. Oh yeah, I capitalized them WITHOUT NEEDING TOO. That’s how emphatic I was being.

  85. OMG, I fucking love that my kids want to buy lunch every day except bean burrito day. I used to have to pack T’s lunch for elementary school every damned day because he didn’t like the lunches. Funny how when he got to middle school, and they could have like eleventy million choices for lunch, he’s soo over ‘home lunches’. I also remember Alex’s preschool parents, who were so holier than thou I wanted to smack each and every one of them, after I packed a peanut butter sandwich and smeared his entire body with peanut butter too. wtf.

  86. Yet again, you totally have left me cracking up. I have yet to actually have to deal with the actual school system as of yet. My only issue with the preschool my daughter goes to is the fact that occasionally she comes home singing something like, “God made us all, made us all, made us all…” so the tune of London Bridges, and I’m like, ok, why are they teaching her that…it’s not like I am sending her to a Catholic Preschool or something. But they seem to keep the indoctrination down to a dull roar, so for now, since I love everything else about her school, I’ll allow it. 🙂

    It’s all a trade-off, right?

  87. Our school board has a nut ban that is board-wide (as in, no school in the district is allowed to have nuts in it). I shit you not.

    Oh, this is the PUBLIC school board, btw.

    Wow. You crazy Canadians!

  88. my kid, who just turned 2 and is in daycare, is allergic to peanuts.

    it’s been interesting to read the comments!

    That’s a freaky allergy. I’m sorry, yo.

  89. Phew! I’m happy to see that you don’t write “Butt Sex” in the memo line for the lunch lady. I was worried there for a moment. 😉 Cheeks can’t have nut products for snack in the classroom, but can happily chow down on as much PB&J in the cafeteria as she wants. Thank goodness. Of course, now all she wants for lunch is bologna. Blech.

  90. Public school is the bomb.com. My mom used to pack Md chunks of velveeta cheese. If I didn’t want that, I could beg the lunch lady for pizza. I heart non-hippies like my momma. And lunch ladies with pizza.

    Ah, non-hippies. The best. Although, not all hippies hate everyone who is not just.like.them

  91. Lunches have come to take up a lot of my brain lately, but I’m oddly glad to hear that Ben is happy with his hot lunches. Because my oldest, in first grade now, is an absolute freak about food. Nothing squishy will be tolerated. Also nothing that is deemed too spicy. Or just “weird.” So that means that most days, he takes a peanut butter sandwich. Some days I can get him to eat a cold quesadilla. But I’ve assumed that hot lunch would always be out of the question. (I guess I tend to picture hot lunches as being entirely the slice of turkey on a piece of white bread, slathered with gravy.) So it’s nice to hear that Ben actually seems to like it.

    Just thinking of the fancy-pants, Whole-Foods school… You know, I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb, and oddly it always left me feeling like we weren’t *quite* cool or rich or something enough. Now we live in a first-tier suburb of Minneapolis, with a lot of people who speak English as a second language, lots of people who are first or second generation in the US. And it leaves me feeling so much better. I feel like the people I see at PTA are so much more real–they’re genuinely invested in their kids’ future, not just in what they can tell one another they’re doing. In some ways, my kids may not have the advantages I did, but having a first-class stage in our high school didn’t really get me very far in life. I think my kids are going to go much further, getting spend time with people who look, talk, and worship differently than the way they do.

    I’m shocked that Ben tolerates hot lunch, but he does. I’m really happy. It’s like a happy weight is lifted off me. And it’s nice not feeling like a square peg in a round hole if I decide to go tanning or get a pedicure or listen to something other than Enya.


    People desperate to prove that they’re better than you are everywhere, I guess.

  92. Oh good LORD. Even I am annoyed with that school (and holier-than-thou parents) and my son doesn’t even go there. My husband and I survived public schools and somehow managed to be productive members of society, I’m hoping my son can do to the same.

    Because really, life is better with nuts.

    Public school, in this case, was the clear choice. I’ve never been so happy to be among the drooling masses.

  93. My 10 yo son is also autistic and has had been brown-bagging it for YEARS now. It’s funny, they have noted in his IEP that he has food issues, when actually, we are just too broke to afford hot lunches (that point where you make too much to qualify for free lunches, but can’t afford to pay two bucks a day for a meal…that would be us!). My kid loves hot chicken noodle soups, or cheese sammies. And he will eat the same thing….five days a week, for a month! Makes getting his lunch together so very easy. (And I am just too embarrassed to tell the casemanager that we are too broke….*shrug*) But he IS picky.

    Ben is the same way! He’ll eat the SAME THING for years in a row!

  94. Oh sweet baby Jesus, Thank You for praising public schools and the hair-netted, stockinged lunch ladies who work there! I’m a public school teacher and I can’t explain how gut-wrenchingly sick I am of defending public schools to the masses of faux-green, wanna-be-tree-hugging, rich moms around here! You don’t need to pay big bucks to educate you child in a caring environment, where they will also learn (lo and behold) about the REAL fucking world, where normal children don’t drink wheat grass juice for breakfast after their sunrise yoga session. They eat Cheerios, and then they pick their noses. Sometimes, they even eat that.

  95. I’m an accidental mom-type-person to 3 kids, ages 7, 11, and 17. NONE of them eat the same things. The youngest won’t touch cake (!!! Obviously not MY offspring) or spaghetti sauce but will happily snarf salt straight from the shaker, if I let him. The middle one will eat an entire can of creamed corn by herself, but corn makes the oldest throw up. Oldest refuses tacos and will pick the beans out of chili before eating it, but loves broccoli and spoiled bananas.

    Pack lunches? You gotta be kidding me. It’s hard enough making dinner that any given child will eat. And if I DID make lunches, you bet your butt they’d be getting peanut butter sammiches, cause that’s one of the few things they all like. The others are ranch dressing and pancakes.

    Peanut butter and ranch on pancakes… hmmm… thank God they go to public school. I could so get away with that. Yay for school hot-lunch! More for their sake than mine, I suspect. 😀

  96. First of all, my two oldest go to almost this exact same school. We have to send lunches, and the school encourages “zero waste,” which means no paper bags or baggies or anything. The kids garden, and the eventual goal is that they will supply a lunchroom for the school. The school even had a goat. No joke. My husband saw it once on top of the swingset on the playground. It died about a week ago. Not sure how exactly… A kid in Kieran’s class was technically the goat’s owner, but all we could get out of Kieran was that there were “bubbles” involved. Now the school has chickens, and there are plans for two more goats. So far, though, it’s great. The parents are all really involved and not obnoxious or self-righteous at all. Score.

    I would kill for a lunch lady, though.

    And DAMN! IT! for someone asking the “Butt Sex” memo question before me. I am only six days behind on my Google reader! Gah! Can’t you wait to discuss these substantive issues?! Rude!

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