Lunch box battles

My son hates having to bring his lunch to school. Rather than spend $2.10 every day and allow him to eat junk that he doesn't even like (and then throw half of that lunch away), I pack him a main course he'll enjoy, a fruit or veggie side, and some kind of cracker or chip.

But his acceptance that his life is a home-packed lunch isn't our biggest problem. The real challenge is getting that home-packed lunch to school where it belongs. You know it's bad when the school receptionist recognizes your call pulling up to the school and is already laughing by the time you open the doors.

He has forgotten his lunch at least 3 times a week since school started in late August. That's a lot of forgotten lunches! So I told him yesterday that if he forgot to take his lunch one more time, I'd spank him. We usually don't use spankings as a behavior deterrent because they don't work for him, but I was hopeful that the fear of it would help him establish the habit. Also, I was slightly at the end of my rope.

Guess what? I opened the refrigerator this morning to pour some half-n-half into my coffee and there was his freaking lunch box. I debated. Let him starve through lunch. Make him eat the cheese sandwich the school cafeteria gives kids who don't have lunch money. Lecture him in front of his classmates. Spank him right there. (Again, dangling right off the end of the rope. Hello overkill ... it's just lunch.)

I didn't do any of those things. I carted his lunch to school and plotted what I would do when he got home. I decided that 9 year old is old enough to be an active participant in memory strategies and that we would work together to create a system that would help him remember that lunch.

When he got him, he was immediately apologetic. I told him to create a list of ideas for remembering the lunchbox, and that if his list wasn't really thoughtful, the spanking would happen. This is what I got:
Apoligy to Mom

I'm sorry that I forgot my lunchbox today. I wasn't paying attention to the time after I brushed my teeth. Then I saw it was 7:08. After that, my stomach starting hurting, then I started to hasten to get ready. But I was in such a hurry that I forgot about my lunchbox. I'm very sorry. I have made a list of ways to remember my lunchbox. Will you forgive me? I used one of my vocabulary words in this letter so it wouldn't be so boring. Did you see I learned how to spell it?

List to help me not forget my LB:
1) Write it on a sticky note
2) Write it on dry erase board
3) When getting milk out in the morning go ahead and put it in bookbag
4) Make it then put 2 ice packs in LB, then put in bookbag
5) Before getting dressed, take it out.
6) Draw arrows lead to the fridge and put a sign that says "open" on it.
7) Wear PJs that have a shirt pocket and put a note inside it and write on a sticky to check the note in my pocket.
8) I am sure there are more ways but my brain just can't think of them. I'm trying really hard.
I still have no idea how to solve this problem (and, no, I won't be putting his lunchbox in his bookbag for him. That's part of his morning responsibilities and he needs to do it). Perhaps I'll spend the evening drawing arrows.

But guess who didn't get a spanking. ;)

Updated: The child remembered his lunch box this morning thanks to a sticky note on the front door (left by me). He did not, however, remember to get his milk from the freezer. Apparently the sticky note on his lunch box wasn't enough. We may move back to juice since he'll drink it warm ... Ah, parenthood.

Today is the last day of ADHD Awareness Week. I thought this was a fitting anecdote to show both the struggles (forgetfulness, frustration, food) and the fun (creativity, out-of-the-box thinking) that comes part and parcel with the disorder.


  • Cheri

    When mine started making a habit of regularly forgetting things they needed for school, I finally put my foot down and decided they would live with the consequences of not handling their own responsibilities. They got 1 "free pass" at the start of the school year. After that, they were on their own. Forgotten lunch? Well, go hungry. One missed meal won't kill you. Forgotten homework? You get to explain it to the teacher and accept the lower grade when you finally get around to turning it in. Amazing what not enabling them accomplished in short order! Of course, mine don't have to deal with ADHD - just laziness.

  • Cheri

    P.S. I'm a classic Mean Mom. Ask my kids, they'll verify it!

  • Shell

    I don't make my son's lunch until the morning, right before we leave, so it's make it, grab it, and go.

    Though, I've told him he has to be responsible for putting the spoon in his lunchbox. I've forgotten twice already and they don't have spoons at school, just forks. (???? yes, seriously) So, it's been my kindergartener reminding me about lunch. LOL

  • TKW

    Very lovely letter and proper usage of "hasten." After a letter like that, I wouldn't be able to spank that child, either.

    Sorry about the milk, Mama. I'm totally feeling you.

    The Mom Who Had To Bring Her Daughter's Finished (but forgotten) Homework Packet
    to School AGAIN Yesterday

  • allison

    That was very sweet and creative. I sympathize with both of you, since I am now the Mom and I was the forgetful kid. We put the kids lunches right in their school bags or hand them to them in order to put them in their school bags -- is this enabling behaviour? :)

  • Kelly Miller

    Allison, I don't want to admit why I don't hand him his lunch box. (Because MM gets him ready for school and then he reads or watches cartoons until the bus comes ... mama is rarely awake.) I would probably remind him if I was up.

  • Justine

    Hey at least your issue is with a kid. My Guy is horrendous about remembering his lunch so every morning, before I go to work (he gets up 1.5 hrs later), I bring his lunch out of his fridge and place it on the counter. That's the ONLY way he remembers. Yes, even though I have one child, I sometimes feel like a mother of two :)

  • Stacia

    Come to think of it, I could use a few arrowed sticky notes around my house ... How awesome is that list?? I hasten to say he's mastered that vocabulary list! =>

  • Kelly Miller

    That list is classic. He wrote it on a neon green index card, too, which makes it even more awesome.

  • a li'l bit squishy

    His list is beautiful! Way to go mom!!!

  • Draft Queen

    Ugh. We forgot things *daily*. Lunches, homework, GLASSES...

    Then mama got a day job and now if they forget, they live without whatever it is for the day.

  • Anonymous

    that is the cutest idea list!!! lol sounds like my kids ideas!!! luckily for me i homeschool so i don't have to deal with making lunches to remember i just have to remember to make lunch lol

  • Emily

    That note was so sweet! Melting my little heart over here.

  • The Drama Mama

    His little note made me giggle. I Love that he practiced using a vocabulary word in his letter. He really thought it out too. Yay for him!

    We have no forgetfulness with food. We have forgetfulness with other "unpleasantries" that we are working on. (Homework agenda, medicine, to name 2).

  • Anonymous

    He had me at "hasten."

    Maybe he knows he has a literary mama and his use of a fancy vocabulary word would ensure that he wouldn't get a spanking? :)

  • Jami

    This has been our best year so far in the lunch department because I decided to let them start packing their own lunches. They have to pack everything except for the ice pack the night before, then add the ice pack on the way out. So far, so good. For my 1st grader, she has a metal clippy thing that hang on her back pack to hook the lunch on to. She has gotten used to the feel of it so that the back pack feels odd without it on there. I was afraid if she got used to it being inside the backpack there would be no significant difference if she forgot it. So far so good.

    I love his use of "hasten". I think he is his mamma's boy.;)

  • Ara

    All I can say is the kid did a good job. Bravo! Anyway, I would like to share the website I found, it might help you relating on this issue. Happy Tiffin website offers different eco-friendly stuffs of pack lunch container. Different in shapes and designs as well as sizes that will fit every individual's personality style. You might like the quality and its usefulness. ;-)

  • Cheryl

    I heart his letter and that he used one of his vocabulary words in it. :)

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