I made school lunch for the last time today. And I cried. I didn’t cry at Senior Volleyball Night, the St. Pius Baccalaureate Mass, or the Mother/Son Walk at the Serra Fashion show but this morning standing in my kitchen staring down at the last bolillo, the bowl of tuna, and block of cheddar the tears simply rolled down my cheeks. I had known for years those big events were coming and I carried a freshly laundered vintage hanky to each one because I was sure I’d be reduced to a puddle of tears. At that moment I wanted something beautiful, dainty and dignified in my hand but the tears did not come. But this morning I was in my jammies and slippers searching for a hanky or tissue.
I’ve made hundreds of lunches sometimes with pleasure, occasionally with a little resentment but mostly by rote. Have you ever driven to a familiar place and when you arrived you didn’t really remember the drive? That’s what school lunches were like most days. Andrew wanted the same thing every day: tuna on a roll with cheese, fruit, water, and a bag of Sun Chips. He’d be pleased to find string cheese, cookies or another treat but didn’t miss them if they weren’t there. When he was practicing for volleyball, wrestling or football he needed more so there might be an extra peanut butter sandwich or granola bar. Making his lunch didn’t take much thought or time and I did it almost everyday for the last 13 years.
I did change things up now and then with some hits and a few misses. Turkey was favored for a while, he liked it and it didn’t make his backpack stink the way the tuna did. But before too long he missed the tuna and it was back to Costco for the multi-pack. Leftover pasta and pizza were a welcome change especially once he got to high school and had access to the cafeteria microwave. At one point, in a fit of independence, Andrew made lunch for himself but that didn’t last long. There was the bagel and cream cheese phase, the Top Ramen phase, and the “I don’t have time to eat” phase. There was the year in grammar school he got hot lunch almost every day until thankfully he grew tired of it. He’ll tell you that was the year he was heaviest and got sick the most due to the poor nutrition. He might be right.
I didn’t want to make a big deal out of the last lunch but I did stick in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup as a special treat. I placed the brown bag next to the door, in “the drop spot” like always and wiped away the tears before Andrew was out of the shower. As he was getting ready to leave he said, “I don’t really need a big lunch cuz were having pizza in Hudleson’s class”. He spied the Reese’s cup and pulled it out to leave at home for later and took the rest. It was just like any other day, I’m not sure how much of it he’ll eat or if he even needs it but it’s there if he does.
I insisted on a picture. I guess I did make a big deal out of it. I’d like to thank the resident teen for indulging me.