This week entailed a whole new phase – Ellie started having lunch at school.
I’m aware that it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I realised that it represented yet another step in my journey of food with Ellie. I refer to our journey of food as the one that started with baby Ellie needing milk and to my surprise this week realised it continues even now! If you’re interested in that earlier part of the journey I’ve put a cheeky extract from my forthcoming book on the page titled: the journey of food (use the link at the top of this page).
To clarify by ‘school lunch’ I specifically mean eating a packed lunch that I made, with lots of other children all being noisy and in a relatively short timescale. The latter is important because by Ellie’s own admission she does eat quite slowly. (She has on several occasions suggested that maybe her sticker chart should include a reward for eating fast – if and when she can!)
Anyway, even Ellie seemed to sense the important change…appearing a little nervous about the whole thing and asking lots of questions:
· Will I have to sit next to boys mummy? (No Ellie, I shouldn’t think so)
· How long will I have to eat mummy? (A little while but you can just leave what you don’t eat)
· Can I sit next to my friends? (I don’t know Ellie, but I’m sure it’ll be fine)
For a few days after that initial conversation I didn’t really mention it, but did periodically give her something to eat and say ‘if you like that I can put it in your lunch box for school’. This was met with approval and I was given clear instructions about what could and could not go in.
Eventually, last Sunday evening (the night before school lunches started) I was getting her lunch box ready and decided to test the water. ‘Ellie, can you come and check you can open these little bags please’. Ellie duly wandered in and asked what bags I meant – so I showed her the little Baco Rainbow Sandwich Bags I’d bought to put her different lunch bits in. Huge thanks to my friend who told me about them because they’ve gone down a treat:
Ellie quickly set about opening the little bags, very much as though she thought it was a test. She proudly grinned ‘yes I can do it’ as she opened all three bags I placed before her. Seizing the moment I handed her the water bottle and asked her if she could open that too. This time my eyes were met by a face that was very clearly telling me I was being ridiculous, ‘yes mummy’ were the only words muttered. I figured I’d pushed my luck enough at this stage and popped everything away.
Monday morning arrived and I finished what I’d started by adding the final elements to Ellie’s lunch box. Her lunch consisted of:
Apple (chopped up) with a bit of lemon on it to stop it going brown
2 wholegrain breakfast biscuits
1 slice of bread, made into two strawberry jam sandwiches
A supermarket’s own brand cereal bar
A small packet of cheesy bits
I was very proud of my creation and when an excited Ellie grabbed the lunch box and swung it around I had to bite my tongue not to remind her how much effort it had taken to make it. Instead I opted to say ‘be careful’ and reminded her that she didn’t have to eat it all, but was just to bring back anything she didn’t eat.
The verdict….Ellie’s summary after her first school lunch was something like this: ‘it was good, I didn’t sit next to boys’. After some reassurance from Ellie’s childminder that she ate pretty well and had finished some bits off after school, I managed to refrain from questioning too much until we got home and I could peep in the box. My verdict – not bad. One biscuit and some apple left. The apple apparently ‘tasted funny’ so I guess my lemon trick was a fail.
All in all though I think it went pretty well and Ellie seemed to agree.
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