*And my stuff. They're also always in my stuff. I can't have anything nice.
One of the ways I do this is to write lunch box notes. The boys' lunches are far from fancy - you won't find, like, California rolls and soybean crisps and organic crinkle-cut carrot slices neatly arranged in a bento box or anything like that. It's more like a PB&J and some kind of fruit and a tube of yogurt and a juice box. But the special thing about their lunches is that, every single day, no matter how short on time I'm running, I always tuck a little note into each one.
Yeah, they're cheesy. Sometimes they're little poems. Sometimes I write them on a banana with a Sharpie. Sometimes I draw pictures.
Sometimes I write them on their sandwich baggies, like I did yesterday.
So when they got home from school, I was cleaning out their lunch boxes and throwing away all the trash that they neglect to pitch at school (they somehow manage to throw away things like permission slips and informational newsletters from the teacher, but bring home sticky granola bar wrappers and half-eaten yogurt tubes. Go figure). Anyway, Cameron - my kindergartner - was like, "All my friends wanted to see the note on my sandwich bag."
Immediately I puffed up with pride and mentally patted myself on the back. I knew it: my kids' lunch notes were awesome. Woo hooooo!
But then came the rest of the sentence. "I was embarrassed," he said.
Then it got worse when Colin chimed in: "Yeah. My friends say it's babyish."
Y'all? I could not have been more surprised. They may as well have kicked me in the shins and said, "No more lunch notes, bitch!" I went from feeling like a fabulous, caring mom to envisioning my kids being bullied and ridiculed and growing up to be colossally dysfunctional adults and talking about it on the Jerry Springer show all because of my stupid notes.*
*Okay, so I might tend to be a little bit dramatic.
I didn't let the kids see my eyes well up with tears. I mean, I expected these sorts of things to happen - like someday they'd stop wanting me to kiss them goodbye at school drop off. Key word: someday. Not now. Not when they're in Kindergarten and third grade. Were they seriously too cool for my sweet gestures? Already?
But I tried to play it cool, even as I was dying inside. "Okay," I said, shrugging casually. "No more lunch notes, then."
I think they may have caught on to my distress despite my best efforts, because Colin said, "Well, you can still put notes in. You know, if you want."
"Yeah," added Cameron. "I don't care what my friends think anyway."
"Does it embarrass you guys?" I asked. "Honestly?"
"Yes, but it's okay. Keep putting them in there."
Later, as I was putting their washed and dried lunch containers back where they belong, something told me to open the bottom zipper section of Colin's. I never pack anything in that section, so it's hardly ever open. And this is what I found:
Yep. A collection of lunch notes that Colin has saved. He's had this particular lunch box for two years now, so some were from last year and some were from this one. Tears sprang to my eyes again, but for a totally different reason this time. He considers them valuable enough to save them. To actually put them in a separate section of his lunch box and keep them.
So this morning as I was packing their lunches, I wrote a note on their sandwich baggies again. But this time, I wrote it smaller, more discreetly, across the bottom. Because no matter how "embarrassing" and "babyish" it may be, my boys still like to be reminded of how much their mom loves them.
And besides, if your mom doesn't embarrass you, who will?
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