It’s the end of the first week for the boys in their new school and I’m in a food fight.
I’m fighting for my kid’s right to eat a Nutella sandwich.
On the first day of school (first day of second grade, new school, new country), the assistant teacher in Caleb’s classroom decided that his lunch was “unhealthy” and only let him eat the carrot sticks I’d put in his lunchbox.
His lunchbox contained: carrot sticks, small cup of pudding/yogurt, granola bar, and—here’s the crux of it—a nutella sandwich (let the jury be advised that the nutella, about a tablespoon, was spread on whole-grain brown bread). Plus—oh the ironic horror of it all—I’d put a small bag of potato chips in his lunchbox for a “special first day treat.” Potato chips are almost NEVER in our lunchboxes.
Now is this the platonic ideal of lunchbox lunch? Do I wish Caleb were one of those kids who just LOVES broccoli and gets cravings for sushi? Well sure. Do I wish that I could send him off to luch with a cunning wee tub of hummus and some celery sticks? Absolutely.
But that’s not my kid. Me? I’m a Michael Pollanite; I’m an Eating Animals acolyte; I think “Food Inc.” should be required viewing for all US citizens. My kid? He spits on my desire for locally sourced organic produce, thinks that vegetables (other than tomato sauce) might kill him, never met a chicken nugget he didn’t like. Somewhere there’s a Tyson tycoon laughing at me.
So I’ve made my (relative) peace with the lunchbox. Whole-grain bread, pretzels not chips, yogurt, granola bar, slices of apple or carrot. And either nutella or peanut butter (for the record, although nutella has more sugar, peanut butter has WAY more fat. Nutritionally they’re about equally good—or bad). (Click here for a nutritional info on both)
But this assistant teacher has decided that Caleb’s lunch is bad. Unhealthy. And thus, of course, she is also judging me. And thus, of course, I’d pretty much like to rip her head off. Who does she think she is—particularly on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL to tell a seven year old not to eat his lunch?
I sent off a shirty email to the teacher, who responded promptly and said she would talk to the assistant, so I figured everything would be fine, going forward. But then three days later, the assistant did it again. The sandwich was deemed “dessert” and so she allowed him yogurt and pretzel sticks.
Would you like to know who came home from school utterly exhausted, crabby, and crying?
See earlier on “want to rip her head off.” Off went another shirty email sent to the teacher, who again apologized and said she would now tell “Miss Ella” to leave Caleb alone at lunch.
It’s not like I’m sending my kid to school with candy bars and bottles of soda; he’s not standing on the playground selling crack, for god’s sake. It’s just NUTELLA.
Here’s the thing: Miss Ella doesn’t know what she’s up against. I’ve survived seven years in the Manhattan Public Schools.
That woman is toast.