03 September 2008

Last Day of Freedom

Yesterday was the girlie's last day of freedom, her last day as an unschooled person. We spent hours combing every corner of the Bronx Zoo, and followed that up with a late lunch on City Island. It was a damn near perfect end to the summer.

This morning, we go in to meet her kindergarten teacher. School starts on Thursday.

She's ready. She's got her backpack, she's got a new skirt. We didn't have to buy any school supplies, because "kindergarten: no supplies needed" (bless this district). She has three lunch boxes to choose from, though she's been using them as suitcases for dolls for weeks - she might cry if I try to put a sandwich in one. I've got name labels ready to apply (but, of course, not YET applied), and in a moment of complete geekiness, I ordered her some (cheap!) business cards with her name and phone number, and our names and cells and emails. You know, for play dates.

She'll be fine.

Me? I dunno.

People keep asking me if it's full day or half day. It's full day, but to me, a full day feels like a half day. Her daycare, where she spent the past three years, operated from 7 am to 6 pm though she was usually there from 7:30 to 5:30. Full day kindergarten means a bus pick-up at 8:50 and drop-off at 3:40. Big difference. In order to actually continue to go to work, we have to juggle a bit, because otherwise I'd only be able to be in the office from about 10:30 to 1:30 (nice work if you can get it). So three days a week, she'll go to a before-school and after-school program, and the other two days, I'll put her on the bus (and get to work around 10:30) and her grandmother will pick her up at the bus stop. It's a bit cobbled together but I think it'll work. I hope.

Lunch, on the other hand, is freaking me out. We've had the luxury of a daycare with a cook - no need to think about food. Period. Starting on Thursday, I have to fill up that lunch box every day (and she has to remember to bring it home). I've laid in a supply of little plastic containers and raisins and cheese cereal bars and rice cakes and Fig Newtons and even some lemonade in juice boxes. I've "borrowed" my father's bread machine; I can make bread without it, but the hands-free time-saving aspect of the machine may mean that I make bread more often. You know, for sandwiches. I think she'll eat an apple if I give her one. I made a mess of applesauce and froze it in half cup containers (though I boughte some prepackaged applesauce too). I keep thinking about stenciling her initials on cloth napkins - we've lots and lots of plain white napkins that came from a defunct hotel and I can figure out stencils and fabric paint, right?

What is the matter with me? I should just slam a jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread in a plastic bag, throw in a pre-packaged bag of junk, and call it a day, right? I can't. I just can't. It'll sort itself out, but it is the little voice in the back of my head these days: "what are you going to give her for lunch?"

On top of all the changes vis à vis the child's education, W. is starting a new job today, a job which will require some travel. So everything, all of it, the whole kit and caboodle feels unsettled - a castle built of spit and a prayer.

Wish me strength.


Janet said...

I love that you care about her lunches :-)

susan said...

Strength to all of you!

You'll get into your new routines, and Miss M will be bringing home stories from her new activities, and you'll all get through (and likely enjoy it all). But starting these transitions--no fun at all.

We use the lunchbox from here:
and I'm having a good time filling the little containers with random things that make her happy. Today, she got a small peach, a tiny plum, a bunch of bread-and-butter pickles, some dried mango slices, and a PB&J wrap sandwich. All of which I randomly pulled from the fridge or cupboard (although she had asked for the wrap bread when we were at the store). Her favorite part of the lunch includes the note I tuck in each day.

This is our first year packing lunches, too, and it is a big switch--one more thing to do in the morning, one more thing to remember.

I hope you all find things to enjoy as you get used to the new routines.

Kyddryn said...

You can do it!

Her lunches will be fabulous, nutritive, and the envy of students and parents alike - and that you care should not be ridiculed, it should be celebrated!

You're a terrific mama, and she's a terrific kid, and you'll both get into the swing of things in no time.

Shade and Sweetwater,

Janet said...

Oooh, those transitions are hard. I'm a bit of a freak about the lunches. I try to make homemade muffins and cookies to include so I know what's in 'em. I try to pack litterless as much as possible. My kids don't like sandwiches so it's always a challenge to get a protein in there. Still. You do get used to it...and so do they.

Anonymous said...

The strength of an elephant is legendary!

My daughter actually likes the school hot lunch. (I know. Ewww. I think it's social: she can sit with her best friend only if they both get hot lunch.) There are some things she doesn't like - their pizza, for example - so I get a chance to make something that makes me feel good at least once a week without the added daily pressure. I hear you loud and clear on this one.

Hang in there! I've been trying to convince myself that planning and preparedness are overrated. Rolling with it is the way to be.

Aunt Becky said...

I had an absolutely terrible time packing lunches for Ben, who, due to his autism, is a terrible horrible eater. I remember well how hard it was to get into the swing of packing stuff that he would eat (took months).

I wish you strength in the coming weeks, Magpie. You can DO it.

FreshHell said...

Strength! You'll be fine. She'll be fine. Because we're vegetarians and the school food is just high calorie, fatty awfulness, I pack lunches. I've only got a 10 minute window of time for lunches (I take my own to work), it's a mix between homemade and prepackaged. She likes the cups of pears but fresh fruit finds its way in there. She likes yogurt. Dannon makes a good non-sugary four-pack. She eats "grownup" yogurt. And a pb&j on wheat bread. Store bought but none of that white bread in my house. She drinks water - insert bottle of water. Then a snack (fruit or cheese stick), napkin and spoon and she's ready to go. I love the IDEA of the bento box but I don't like the reality of filling those tiny spaces and hoping they dont' get thrown away. And then they all have to be washed every day w/o the benefit of a dishwasher. Sigh.

Girlplustwo said...

good luck, sister. baby steps.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear about another lunch-packing nut myself. Any chance you can get your former school cook at the new school?

Much strength to you.

Aurelia said...

Good luck...I will say that the cloth napkin thing is too much, because even with names on them, she'll lose everything.

As for the rest, you seem to be okay. I would say buy a thermos, and get some plastic cutlery she can reuse but you won't mind losing. I send stew and soup and pasta and sauce and things.

RuthWells said...

Strength! It gets easier once you get accustomed to the new routine, but yeah, cobbling together the days is giving me flashbacks to when the boys were younger and everything was in different directions from everything else. Which made about as much sense as it sounds.

As for lunches, you will work it out. Sandwiches on whole-grain bread, cheese slices or string cheese, hard cooked eggs, cut-up fruit (or grapes, or whatever), yogurts, homemade trail mix with nuts and raisins.... lots of options, depending on what she will deign to eat! And much of it can be prepped the night before, to make mornings go more smoothly.

Dole mixed fruit cups and Motts applesauce cups are great to have on hand for emergencies, and they have a very long shelf life.

This year I'm doing home made "lunchables" for my 10-year-old. It's simply crackers, all-beef bologna cut into wedges, and cheese slices, but it makes him inordinately happy! And much better for him than his beloved Cheerios snack mix.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

OK, so, this is not exactly relevant but I have to ask: how do you use homemade bread for sandwiches? My bread is always difficult to slice; my family balks at sandwiches made with hunks of bread...

Don't forget yogurt. Did anyone mention that? I buy plain yogurt in the largest tub available, then mix it each day into jelly jars w/ whatever is on hand -- honey, frozen blueberries, etc.

Regarding school schedules: YES. School sucks. On Wednesdays my son gets out at 2pm. What parent works from 9-2? I ask you. Our after-school arrangements are cobbled together, too.

Mayberry said...

Good luck! You'll get into the groove.

That said, before we even had kids, I extracted a promise from my husband that he be the lunch-maker.

Am I doing okay? said...

Congrats! I want to know where you ordered the (cheap) business cards? I've got an almost done pack of Mable's Labels around here somewhere. You sound like more of cook than I, but my picky eater gets a veggie corn dog or PBJ most days. I've spent the past 2 yrs periodically sitting w/ Kinders at lunch and I've gleaned this information by observation:no matter what you pack, they hardly eat anything! I couldn't believe all the food that got thrown away.

nonlineargirl said...

The lunch thing wigs me out too. We had to make lunch for Ada last summer and it was always stressful. She loved it - loved taking a lunch box, loved having little containers filled with food. Even when it was a pb&j and carrot sticks.

Melissa said...

We have some odd food allergies here, so I pack lunches every.single.day.

Usually it's some sort of wrap (pb or ham or turkey), horizon milk, a fruit, a crunchy (usually sun chips or mini rice cakes), and a snack bar for snack time (school stars at 7:30 and they don't get lunch until 12). One or two days a week, I'll throw in a cookie or a Pepperidge Farm 100 calorie pack of something for a treat.

Fruit leather is also good. Not that froot stuff, the real thing. They love it.

But honestly, anything you send is better than the crap in the cafeteria. :) Good luck tomorrow!

Don Mills Diva said...

I feeling much the same way here - new job, new routine - it makes life feel somehow unsettling...strength to us both!

Kate Lord Brown said...

You'll be great, sounds like you're really prepared. Within a week it will feel like you've been doing it forever. First day our little one went in, I made sure to pack a treat (chocolate bar she loves, special treats only), and a note saying 'I love you' with a big smilie face. (I know - but she still remembers it!)

Anonymous said...

Packing lunch is the bane of my existence.

flutter said...

you have strength in spades.

Anonymous said...

You know SHE'LL do fine. WE'LL be here for you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh man, we should've coordinated our schedules. We missed seeing you this summer and we only missed you by a day. Today WE spent the entire day covering every corner of the Bronx Zoo! Dang! We could've met up and put the kids on the camel together and I would not have been shaking on the hump, LOL!

Give our congratulations to Miss M on entering her school days. She'll love it. And you'll be fine!

Nadine & Evan

PS - I've been packing lunch for an entire year already. It gets old so quick. Do you have a thermos for her? Leftover soups, stews, & pasta do not require a bread machine! Cheese and crackers are a huge hit here. So are things cut up (I send cute toothpicks) that can be *speared*.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I totally get you on the lunch thing--you're talking to a woman that just spent $11.00 to mail homemade chocolate chip cookie bars to her son in college!

cactus petunia said...

Oh, wow. It's been such an embarrassingly long time since I had to pack anyone's lunch but my own..luckily we didn't have any allergies, just picky eaters. They liked bagels and cream cheese, PB&J and carrots, celery sticks, goldfish crackers and occasional granola bars. Soup in a thermos once in a while. It's shocking how little they actually eat at school...they're always in a hurry to get out to play in the schoolyard. The big hit, though? I drew a picture of them on their brown paper lunch bag every morning...in whatever outfit they wore that day. (My daughter loved it even through middle school)

And, I almost forgot! It's great to see pics of City Island...I spent almost every Saturday there with my mom and sister at my aunt's house on Bay Street...I'll post about it soon. Thanks for the reminder!

Good luck with the lunches. The first week's the hardest!

needleinahaystack said...

Just wait, because soon your blessed school district demands a scientific calculator --a new version each year--for literally hundreds of dollars. Also, they need a computer, a printer and a laptop if you ever plan on going on vacation, they seem to expect a lot of work over holidays.
Oh and hundreds of dollars of supplies which they will ask you not to put your name on--so it can be used by whomever for whatever. I get very pissed off by this one. I put our name on whatever they make me hunt down at Staples.

Maybe I will rant about this in my own blog.

Woman in a Window said...

I am faced with angst and guilt every day as I pack the kids lunches. You'd think after four years I'd have my shit together. I do not. It doesn't help that they simply do not eat the healthy stuff or they swap it out with friends. Nuts!

Good luck with all. Sounds like a lot on your plate.