Monday, September 14, 2015

Future Punkgirl and Other Lunch Shenanigans

Okay, I'm not the first person to write about making from-home lunches fun, and I'm sure I'm not the most creative, but I am the one most likely to never tell you to cut your kid's sandwich into a replica of the Mona Lisa. If you, like me, have no aptitude for making works of art out of food, then this is the post for you.

Punkgirl was diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago, and the biggest change for her (and me) was the inability for her to order lunch at school. We eat a gluten free meal for dinner (because I, too, have celiac disease, and I refuse to cook two meals), but up until that point I let the kids get their fill of gluten-filled foods during breakfast and lunch. Punkgirl was pretty devastated to find that she could no longer participate in eating the chicken nuggets, pizza Friday, or any of the other kid-friendly (read:gross) foods at school. And until recently, these things weren't readily available in gluten-free varieties. 

So I became pretty good at slapping two pieces of gluten-free bread together, but more importantly, I became great at making the kid laugh at lunchtime. It's not fun when you're eating a lunch brought from home that tastes like cardboard in tinfoil and everyone else is eating warm chicken enchiladas, or hamburgers, or even sloppy joes. Thus began Future Punkgirl and Other Shenanigans.

I write notes--not every day, because then it's too routine, but say, once every few weeks or so, though I have gone as long as a month--to Punkgirl, from Future Punkgirl (in case you haven't guessed it yet, Punkgirl is my eldest daughter, Shaelin.) 

Punkgirl was a middle-schooler when I started, and middle-schoolers are for some odd reason obsessed with gross. So the grosser, the better. They also love drama, which is why I like this one:

Today, for the first time in high school, I sent her one that said "Shaelin, something momentous is going to happen today. Be ready for it....*PS, if you don't believe me, your friend S is sitting to the right of you today. PPS If S isn't sitting to the right of you, you've accidentally changed the future by coming back to the past to warn me--you! ~F.S.

Punkgirl ruined the surprise today by accidentally going into her lunch bag in the morning, but the hysterical giggling coming from her lips tells me she still enjoys the adventures of Future Punkgirl.

I know you're thinking "that's it? A couple of notes, that's all you've got for me?" The truth is, it could be--it's minimal effort and maximum return (because we never know when future Punkgirl will make an appearance), but for those of you over-achievers out there, I have a couple more suggestions.

Be crazy. By "be crazy" I don't mean hide in the lunch room closet and spy on her to make sure she's eating okay (I mean, it will stay in her mind for the next several years when you pop out that one time and let her know that you'll keep checking to make sure she's actually eating...but you probably don't need to do that. Probably.) I mean be creative, and make her be creative. I've duck taped her dessert closed (though she wasn't as happy with that one because she put in all the effort of getting it open to find NOT CHOCOLATE inside.) I've cut a cupcake in half and placed it in one of those weird-shaped salad dressing holders, so the only possible way to get it out involved getting chocolate frosting on your fingers. And I've used milk and food coloring to paint toasted bread for her sandwich with bizarre or creepy pictures (though admittedly, that one was far more effort than I generally expend.) 

The idea is that Punkgirl gets a laugh, or a groan, with at least a few lunch meals per month. Her friends even get a laugh, as she opens her bag with care in case something some day pops out of there. Not that I've encouraged that concern...

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