From the Mommy Files…

School Lunch a Lesson in Symmetry

Posted on: May 17, 2010


I’ve mentioned before that I help prepare and serve hot lunch every Friday at BooBoo’s preschool. I noticed with my own kids that things have to be the same or someone’s upset. Add 36 or so kids, and well, it can quickly fall into chaos. You can’t give them any excuses to not eat. So school lunch becomes a lesson in symmetry.

Let me count the ways.

Kids are pretty picky. And they are very observant. Sometimes there are a couple of us getting tables ready, or plates, etc. So sometimes one plate looks a little different than another. Not acceptable. So I’ve learned that these are the rules, to keep them happy (one less distraction) and then there’s a greater chance they’ll actually eat their lunch.

It’s a good thing I worked in restaurants and at banquets, so I’m already experienced in this “art.”

Rule # 1: You must use all the same dishes, napkins, cups and utensils. “Hey! Why does he have a monkey if I have a tiger?”

Rule # 2: You must serve the same juice box or kind of juice and in the same cup. “I don’t want orange juice, she’s got red juice! I want the red juice! Gimme red juice!”

Rule # 3: All napkins must be folded the same way and set on the same side of the plate. The slightest positioning change messes them up.

Rule # 4: Portion sizes must be the same. “Why did he get more than me?”

Rule # 5: Arrange the food in the same place on each plate. “I want my strawberries on THAT side!” Again, the slightest thing distracts them.

Rule # 6: Don’t stray from the “known” foods.  One day we served macaroni and cheese, but it wasn’t the “traditional” elbow macaroni. “What are these screwy kinda noodles? I don’t like these!” And most didn’t eat them. Even if your kid isn’t so picky, she’ll go along with the crowd and not eat it. When we served the elbow mac kind, they gobbled it up quickly.

Rule # 7: Each spot at the table must look the same, i.e. cup at 1:00, napkin to the left of the plate, fruit at the top of the plate, etc. Trust me, it saves grief.  

Now you’ve learned your lesson in school lunch symmetry – perfectly proportioned, everything the same, well-balanced. No one said they had discerning tastes, but they’re definitely easily distracted and super finicky.

So now you know the lunch rules. Apply these in your own house too, to keep the peace and promote eating lunch without problems.

Who said this was easy?

There are only a few weeks left to go for this school year, and I have to say, I will miss hot lunch day. It’s really been fun.

3 Responses to "School Lunch a Lesson in Symmetry"

This is so very true! It only took a couple meltdowns when my kids were little for me to learn this lesson! Young moms, heed this message!

My son had two bowls he liked to have cereal in when he was little – a blue one and a yellow one. I never gave him a choice of cereals, (heaven forbid- I would have been there all day) but I always asked, “Which bowl would you like- the blue one or the yellow one?”

One Saturday I tried to sleep in (Hah!) Which left his father in charge of breakfast. He gave our son the yellow bowl, and naturally our son said, ” I want the blue one.”

Clever dad thought he could outsmart the kid. “We don’t have any blue bowls.”

Need I finish this, or does every mother know that was the end of my sleeping in that morning?

They are smarter than we give them credit for. Hope you’re well.

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BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux


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