Say all you want about me, but I don’t give my children a choice – they have to buy school lunch every day. The new government-instituted nutritional requirements have eliminated the mystery meats and bad carbs, so I’m not concerned about the quality of the food being served in the least. My kids can either get school lunch or starve. I received the old school hot lunches as a kid and survived, so I know mine will, too. In fact, the invaluable knowledge I gained from my experience has helped me transition into adulthood easier than my friends who were spoiled with craft-style lunches made by their moms.
Everything I needed to know about life was on that plastic tray laden with eraser bit macaroni salad and boiled gray hot dogs.
Nothing is fair in this world. Nothing at all. Life gives what it gives and you have very little control over how much or how little you get if you don’t try speaking up. You’re not always successful at getting what you ask for, though. Sometimes you are forced to watch your mortal enemy get the coveted piece of pizza with two pieces of pepperoni while you get the all-crust corner piece, even though you hate the crust. It’s about learning to accept life on life’s terms – appreciate what you have, always work hard, and keep striving to reach your goals, making your dreams a reality.
You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
Sometimes every option sucks. There are three categories on the menu every day to choose from. Despite an array of choices, there are going to be days not a single thing sounds appetizing and you are going to have to settle for the least offensive to your taste buds. Life is good for that. There will be many times when you’ll find the only choices you have been given are nothing like what you had hoped for. Like the first apartment you have imagined moving into in contrast with the options, you will actually be able to afford when it comes time. Or, how you will expect to find work right out of college in the position you always dreamed of, just to discover your choices are nothing comparable for a multitude of practical reasons you’ll one day understand. You just have to pick the suckiest one and hope for a better circumstance the next go-round. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, so hang in there.
Someone else will always have it better. And someone else will always have it worse. Just because someone has a fancy looking lunch does not mean they have a happy home. If other kids get free hot lunch due to low-income status, it doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them or work hard to provide. Appearances can be deceiving- the piece of pizza with two pepperonis may be lacking cheese underneath. Life gives you what it wants to for a purpose greater than you could ever begin understanding. You can’t let your story give you room to judge others.
That lunch may not measure up to those handcrafted, creative masterpieces, but the option is still better than having no food at all. Enjoy what you have.
Step out of your comfort zone. Waiting in line, making a choice, placing the order, carrying the tray through the crowd, and finding your seat in the cafeteria is a daunting task for some. Whether they are shy, soft-spoken, easily distracted, or indecisive, the daily routine is helping them break out of their shells, one platter of rigatoni with meat sauce at a time. Without a trusted adult, like Mom, Nana, the principal, or a favorite teacher walking you through the process, you’re coerced into gaining independence. From speaking up to classmates who try to cut in line to making yourself heard over wanting a larger portion as you order to excusing your way through the chaos to your assigned seat, you are paving your own course in life. The opportunity often arises to try new foods, as well. Even if you find the food leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can still taste the personal growth. The school lunch experience is almost as valuable as the education, itself. Outside the box of comfort is where all the good stuff happens in life and your true potential lurks in wait.
Premium costs extra. Just like the real world, all the top-quality, highly coveted items from the snack cart are going to cost a little extra. ‘Tis price you pay for wanting the good things in life. You’ll have to work for what you want because nothing is ever truly free- even if it costs nothing monetarily. Your time, your dedication, your strength, your talents, your joy, your health…the list goes on and on. Only you can determine if the cost is worth the price to be paid and the work that will need to be done to achieve the prize you desire. I can promise you, though, hard work will always be worth it. Then, you can afford all the bags of chips, granola bars, popcorn, cotton candy, and novelty ice-cream your little heart desires. If not, you have no room to envy the kids who do.
My oldest is in sixth grade and has never expressed a desire to have a bag lunch. He’s responsible, outspoken, and driven to excel at anything he sets his mind to. I can’t help but attribute some of this to the lessons he has learned from getting school lunch; especially since his younger siblings are heading in the same direction. If you had any doubts that I’m the meanest mom in the world, I am sure I only reaffirmed you were wrong by now. School lunches are the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll be your Bento box problem one day when Junior grows up expecting his life to be balanced on a silver tray held by someone else while he dictates from his high horse.