Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Want Lunch Break

Is any time of day more beloved than lunch break?  I mean, besides the time to leave work, of course, but lunch time is almost universally loved.  During elementary and high school, it was great.  Even though our school's food was mediocre and no one did the lunch packing thing it was still a fun and happy time and a nice break during the day.  I should point out that my school had small classes and our lunch room (an old 1930's era gym with the former stage area long ago enclosed and converted to a modern kitchen) did not have the drama about lunch tables and where popular kids sat and having someone to sit with because all the tables were banquet length and all the girls in my class (14 girls in all) fit perfectly at one table and we just filled it in as we got our plates and the boys (a perfect group of 14!) all sat at another table and even when we started mixing socially the table thing always stayed the same.  It was pretty drama free and enjoyable.  The teachers had their long table, the other classes had theirs, and it was nice!  In college, lunch was great of course.  In the dorm, all of my neighbors and eating buddies figured out each others schedules and we knew who could go at 11, 12, 1, etc. and we waited for the door slams and talking in the hallway and went together to that smorgasbord, the dining center, where I regularly made delicious croissant sandwiches and drank several different glasses of soda and enjoyed many other offerings.  After high school lunch it was a dream come true.  Some students complained about it and I still think they were crazy and were just being high maintenance.  Once I moved to the sorority house lunch became a fun communal time where we gathered in the basement for home cooked food while cheesy soap operas like "Days of our Lives" and "Passions" played in the background.  Nothing was better than walking into that warm house after class on a freezing day and smelling soup cooking and hearing everyone laughing in the basement. 

Summertime lunches were often a family meal when I was growing up since my dad was around the farm and lunchtime meant that it was almost time to go to the pool which was the best part of summer!  When I started lifeguarding lunch usually meant eating a sub sandwich or mini pizza from the gas station on the deck of the pool while we vacuumed the pool and generally screwed around in the hour before the pool opening (the pay for that hour was not money well spent, city budget!)  Lunch in law school was a hilarious and gossipy affair either in the school break room or the Union food court where they had enticing daily deals like $1 sandwiches on Wednesdays and $1 pizza on some other day that I can't remember.  And finally, for most employed adults lunch is a fun and social hour.  Whether it is enjoyed in a break room, restaurant, job site, cab of a truck or anywhere else, most workers look forward to it all morning.  When I had a job that involved 10 hour days my co-workers and I would delay lunch until 2 pm to help our afternoons go faster and making it to 2:00 was such a relief. 

What I am getting to is that I recently realized that my lunchtime is not enjoyable.  It is so not enjoyable compared to most people! (I say that in a dramatic way, referring to the majority of privileged and productive people in developed nations, not people in refugee camps, prison, seriously ill in hospitals, etc. and I know that there are people much worse off than me even among the privileged population.) As I prepare it, I usually have Ben hanging on my leg screaming for a snack, to go outside, or throwing some unexplainable fit.  I have to produce some sort of reasonably nutritious option for him even if I just want to eat ramen noodles or leftover pizza or something much worse like a minimal healthy option followed by crap (a banana and cake? Yummy!).  Even my usual go-to lunch, a sandwich, requires a second meal for Ben (yes, I know many people see this as indulgent and spoiling him) since he can't really handle picking up a sandwich yet and I love a sandwich!  And meanwhile, Tessa is usually screaming and freaking out in the background because no one is paying attention to her and she wants to crawl but can't and gets frustrated.  It is this way almost every day.  And then, Ben finally eats, I manage to eat without actually paying attention to what I am eating, and then Tessa needs to have a bottle (I have been pump free for about two weeks now!  Yayyyy!) and then Ben goes to his room for a nap and I am left with a completely trashed kitchen.  The dishwasher is usually still full of clean dishes from the day before, Allan is on the table licking Ben's plate, cutting boards, knives, various condiments and crumbs are strewn all over any available counter space (there never is much of this to begin with) and there is a sink full of bottles to wash and a thawed bag of my milk from the freezer in a bowl of water in the sink.  Ay Carumba.  I remember the years of my youth when we didn't have a dishwasher and am truly sympathetic to my mom.  The occasional dish drying that we kids did barely minimized the daily grind.  Also, the three kids hovering around in swimming suits whining about wanting to go to the pool and fighting over the front seat didn't help.  I'm sure the school year was such a relief. 

I know this routine is temporary and in a few years the high chair will be gone and all of my kids will be able to eat a sandwich or some easy and universal dish like tacos and hopefully after lunch we can all head off to the pool (Bismarck pools are open!).  And then they will be at school (where they will be eating the school's lunch, not some elaborate home made lunch!) and I will be able to join the word of enjoyable lunches again. But I often find myself longing to linger at the table in the dining center with some excessive desert from the desert fridge or making a quick trip to Qdoba with my co-workers or just watching TV in my own living room while eating leftover pasta on the couch in peace.  I don't think anyone appreciates their lunch hour enough!  Enjoy your adult banter, gossip, magazine reading, break room TV, soap operas, talk shows, and down time!  I hope to join you again someday!

Speaking of elaborate school lunches, did you know that this sort of thing is a thing?

This crap is all over Pinterest and I know people in real life who actually do stuff like this for their kids.  Search online for "bento box lunch" and you will see many creations.  Good for these moms but OH PLEASE!!!!!

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