Question: What’s for lunch?

As we gear up for dd’s first run at camp, in a few months, we have to make a decision as to whether we want to have the camp provide her with a lunch or if we should make the lunch ourselves. We’ve had it easy the last few years; ever since she was able to eat solids 100% of the time, she was getting her lunch and snacks from day care. Now, we’re on the cusp of Kindergarten, and camp is a bit of an informal dress rehearsal for some of that.

Of course, setting aside the cost issue (buying lunch daily isn’t cheap) and the nutrition issue (she’d pick chicken nuggets and fries or pizza EVERY DAY if we’d let her), there’s the other concern of her spending so much time in line that she won’t have enough time to EAT her lunch.

So, I’m curious to hear from the parents who already have kids in school and/or those who have to provide the lunch for their kids at day care. What do you do? How do you keep the food cold/fresh if you send it in with your child? Do you switch it up or have pretty much the same lunch all week long? How do you work around pickiness (like, say, a child who isn’t naturally inclined to liking sandwiches).

Inquiring minds want to know and operators are standing by…

Is “childism” real?

Hanging out Sunday night, I happened across this piece – ‘Childist’ Nation: Does America Hate Kids? by Judith Warner. The concept is interesting: we, as a nation, seem to have swung back in some crazy-ass direction where now people are all okay for stifling the creativity, joie de vivre, and very safety of children in the country. Hmm. I think I beg to differ. I think it’s been around for a lot longer and is far more ingrained than any ‘ism’ can possibly express.

Sure enough, things like No Child Left Behind do little to show that we’re trying to handle the immense variation in children’s learning development, but standardized tests were around decades ago and didn’t seem to derail children from having useful and prosperous futures back then. (I had to pass four state-level standardized tests just to be eligible to graduate from high school, and somehow I managed to do that without ending up in a padded cell.)

And while the terrible tragedy of a young girl being run to death for having lied about eating a candy bar is just that – a terrible tragedy – it’s not like there weren’t screwed up parents for pretty much the entire history of, well, parenthood.

It seems like a week can’t go by without hearing some horrifying story of what someone’s done to a child: sexual assault (I’m looking right at you, Jerry Sandusky, and it makes me want to puke), physical abuse, emotional abuse…the list just goes on and on. It’s to the point where you almost have to go numb if you want to be able to listen to, watch or read the news; otherwise, you might lose your nut listening to the filth and bile that humankind seems to heap on itself, especially its most vulnerable population.

But, I’d like to point out that there’s more to it than that. Sure enough, Warner does point out that America’s lack of support for affordable, high-quality child care is part of the problem, and I agree 100% with her. I’d also like to note that it shouldn’t take Beyonce whipping out a boob in a New York restaurant to get people to agree that breastfeeding is okay in public. As far as I can tell, the only people who think bf’ing in public is offensive are those who see breasts as “tits” only. Au contraire – boobs can sometimes be breasts, sometimes be tits, sometimes even be BODACIOUS TA-TAS… – and whatever they are, it’s none of anyone else’s business. Feeding your child should be okay in a restaurant. People go to restaurants to eat, right? OK. (nods)

And setting aside the Tiger Moms and the Parisian Moms, and whatever other form of Titled Mom you want to come up with, kids need structure. They need boundaries. They need freedom to run while simultaneously being able to know that there’s a home to come back to. That’s why I get so completely annoyed when I hear about how we need to make sure that everybody gets a trophy whenever there’s a competition. No, they don’t. Whoever wins should get a trophy, and maybe the next 2 or so other kids. Everybody else just gets to see the trophies. Sounds harsh? Well, which is harsher – letting kids think that everybody always wins or teaching them that winning has to have some value to it or else it’s not really winning? I think of this exchange from the movie, The Incredibles, where the mother (Helen) is trying to make sure that her son, Dash, understands why his superpowers might be too much for competitive sports. She tells him that “everybody’s special”, which prompts his grumbling retort: “Which is another way of saying no one is.” We’re not all Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, or {pick the really fast/gifted athlete of your choice}. Doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it, but doesn’t mean we’ll all get there. Teaching kids otherwise is actually crueller than giving them some dose of reality, in my opinion.

Where else do we fall down? All over the place. We medicate kids early and often when it’s not always clear that they need it. We leave parents of autistic children to fend for themselves all too often, when it’s clear that they need access to MORE assistance, not less. We actually debate whether or not dads should have access to paternity leave. We fill the shelves of grocery stores with countless boxes, jars, cans, and plastic cups of foods targeted to kids that are filled to the gills with high fructose corn syrup, chemicals and other crrrrap that growing bodies (or even fully-grown bodies) just don’t need.

Oh, I could just go on and on.

I’m not saying that kids don’t need to be separated from adults at times. I like having some free time to myself when no one is hanging on my leg, asking me whether they can watch “Wiggly Wiggly Christmas” for the umpteenth time, or jumping off the couch when I expressly forbade that not two minutes prior. But, the thing is: these are my kids. I take them as our responsibility. It’s up to me and dh to decide how to civilize these wild creatures who were brought into this world as a way for us to extend our family tree one more generation. I’ll do everything in my power to protect them from the stupid and mean people, but I know there will be a point when my reach won’t be good enough. At that point, I have to rely on them to be able to take care of themselves to some extent and call me in when they recognize that they need help. So I have to do what I can to prepare them for that eventuality, and the stupid and mean people keep coming up with new and exciting ways in which they can be awful to kids (and their parents, which has a trickle-down effect on the kids), so it seems to make the life of a parent that much more challenging.

Of course, no one put a gun to my head and made me have kids. And it seems like every generation has some point when parent A turns to parent B and says, “Are we really doing the right thing, bringing kids into {this} world?” (where {this} is always punctuation for some really awful thing, like nuclear proliferation, homophobia, or the rampant spread of reality TV). So maybe it’s just a never-ending cycle. On the other hand, there is somewhat of an antidote to this. If parents all over the place said, “I won’t be like that” and then actually WEREN’T that parent, and if employers, school superintendents, politicians, and everyone else went about their day trying not to be that guy, maybe we’d get somewhere.

As I’ve said to dd on more than one occasion, “Politeness costs you nothing.” I really do consider that to be true. It costs you nothing to be nice to someone, to do the right thing, to smooth the path for the person behind you. But it seems to cost you your very soul (if not various other possessions) when you deviate from that. Quoth Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick”. Oh that more people could live their lives with this in their hearts. Kids – and adults – everywhere would rejoice.

I can see for miles and miles…

I’ve always liked walking. It’s certainly better than running, in my opinion, since I’m not usually winded and feeling like my lungs will explode from a good walk – which even a 1/4mi run will do to me. Also, based on what my doctor has said about my knees, running is dead out. So, it’s walking for me.

And with the marathon slowly approaching, about 6 months out, I feel like I have sufficient time to ramp up so that I can cross that finish line not limping…justwalking. Naturally, this requires that I find ways to get my endurance up, such as training walks during the week on the treadmill at my office’s fitness center. Those are a bit tough lately, what with my calendar turning into a sea of red from meetings piled on top of meetings, but I’m trying to get back into a 3-day/wk fitness center schedule. Then we get to the weekends, and things invariably get odder.

So this is where I noticed that as I was leaving the Y this morning, after dd’s swim class, I was curious about the mileage from our house to the Y. Turns out that we’re 5-ish miles from the Y. Hmm. That means I could send dh with BOTH kids to the swim class next week (ds would sit in the stands and watch) and walk over to meet up with them. Of course, that throws off the usual Sunday schedule of one parent at swim class and the other at the grocery store, with kids split evenly between us, but sometimes you have to make such sacrifices.

The loop I did last weekend turned out to be 4 miles (which was why it was such a breeze), so I’m looking to push the distance, even early in the training cycle. I could stay off the main roads and just stick to a loop around secondary & tertiary streets, but then it’s a matter of which ones have sidewalks and making sure I’m appropriately brightly colored for the ones that don’t.

What I would like to get my hands on is an iPhone app that helps you track how far you’ve walked in distance (not steps), so that I don’t have to rely on Google Maps to give me mileage. Don’t get me wrong – Google maps does fine, especially now that they have the walking directions feature – but it would be nice to have something I can just use to measure these right from my phone. I’m sure there’s one out there, but I haven’t seen one that really fits my bill just yet (so suggestions are more than welcome!).

It’s hard to figure out how to fit it all in. When your schedule during any given week is like playing a game of Jenga, it seems monumentally difficult to wedge in exercise/training time. I know that you have to prioritize it and all, but there are a lot of competing priorities in my life (kids, work, etc.) and sometimes it feels like the true marathon is just trying to go the distance on that without completely dorking everything up.

I’ll figure it out. I really want to walk across that finish line this year, finishing stronger than I did last year. That 26.2 sticker felt SO GOOD going on my car. I guess I just need to figure out how to juggle “marathons” and finish strong across the board. Sounds easier than it is, I’m sure, bu probably worth doing nonetheless.