Friday 24 August 2012
The end of Midi Minx’s first week in school, mornings only, and a special treat: she got to go to school dinners! And so did I 🙂 Last year The Boss went with Maxi, so I was looking forward to my turn. I wasn’t a lover of school dinners as a child, but I had to try out something that consistently impresses Maxi so much: my picky little eater asks for chicken fajita wraps and jacket potatoes for weekend lunches, because she eats them at school.
I picked up Midi at 1130hrs, then hung around in the drizzle till 1200hrs when we were allowed to go in. As Midi and Mini were messing around, we were at the back of the queue. Great. It might be around 25 years since I last set foot in a school dinner hall, but even I know that you need to be near the front to get the best lunch!
Slowly, slowly inching forward, 2 of the supervising staff came over to say hello to Midi. “Ah, I’ve been hearing how independent you are, L!” said one. Midi beamed from ear to ear and rolled her huge green eyes around in her head for a bit. I think she was pleased. I wasn’t sure how to take that: did she mean independent as in ‘you’re only 4 but you can do so much for yourself that other kids still need a grown-up to do’, or independent as in ‘you know your own mind to the point of being bloody-minded’. I suspect the truth would be a bit of both.
I also got another surprise: apparently Maxi is the only kid in the school who always takes a big selection from the salad bar. What?! Twice a week when I ask what she had for lunch, she reels off an incredible list of vegetables and good food. I’ve never believed her, because none of it was on the menu. I didn’t realise there was a salad bar that the children could help themselves to. Oops! Am I proud that she’s such a good eater of diverse things? Well… no, because that’s how we brought her up, but… och,… yes, I am. She even chooses soup instead of pudding sometimes – something her greedy, sweet-toothed, undisciplined mother could never do!
Speaking of pudding, on that Friday it was sponge and custard. I couldn’t resist. Now, I know that I’ve not had school dinner sponge OR custard since I was 12, so nearly 30 years. But oh my God and the stars above, it was lovely! I’d taken a special, grown-up, boxed packed lunch for Mini to eat, but even she had to have some of the sponge and custard. Except she seemed to be a little confused about who was sharing their pudding with whom, and threw a strop at me eating any at all….
I suppose it was quite comical: me, Mini, Midi and Maxi all in a line, perched on the little round table seats, all troughing our custard and sponge like it was going to be stolen away from us (Maxi had come racing through at the bell and joined us, proud as punch at joining her little sister for her first school lunch). Some of the other mums certainly gave us some strange looks. I thought it was maybe disgust, but we were quite neat and quiet that day. Then one mum smiled at Midi, who’d stopped *just* short of licking the tray-plate, and noted: “Ooo, aren’t they all good, she’s even eating her vegetables!” It felt quite strange just to smile back and mutter something about aye, she’s always been a good eater, but if only she slept! The reality was that I was appalled at so many little kids, sitting beside their mothers, but *not* eating. One wee boy poked at a bit of mashed potato, frowned at the gravy, had no veg on his plate at all, ate a little bite of the pudding (I had to hold Mini back from ‘helping’ him) then insisted he’d had enough and it was all yuck.
Have we just been lucky that our minxes inherited our
greed enjoyment of food, any food, all food? Or is it because anyone in the house at the time always, always sits together at the table for 3 meals every day? Even 3 day old infant minxes in car seats? I honestly don’t know. It’s just always been what we’ve done as a family, from the day we returned home from hospital with 3 day old Maxi. Does it make a difference? I’m not sure; we have the usual table fights, same as every family (You.Are.To.Try.Everything.On.Your.Plate, Young Lady). Does it even matter? Well, I hope it does. I’m a bit afraid of what the minxes’ relationship would be like with food if we didn’t. I’m determined to innoculate my girls from all the insidious body-image poison they’re already coming up against (yep: aged 4 and 6 and they have friends who poke fun at other perfectly normal girls for having ‘fat’ tummies and ‘fat’ legs). I’m doing my damndest to teach them that all food has something yum about it (if it tastes yuck it’s because it’s not been cooked or prepared properly); all actual food has a purpose to serve somewhere in the body (eg fat makes your hair shine and you can store vitamins in it; iron stops you getting tired; protein makes you stronger. That kind of simplistic stuff). You eat till you have Happy Tummy (feel full) and stop. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it works – you can only do what you can do.
Anyway, anyway. On the last of 3 double school runs of the day, I found myself dragging 3 tired little girls uphill in the rain. They were whingeing and moaning and getting slower and slower. I had Mini in the sling on my hip and was carrying school bags and a shopping bag. Hell, I was tired! I threw a huge shouty tantrum, halfway up the hill. Suddenly all 3 started behaving. No way! That’s a first – usually they get worse. I slathered on tons of praise to salve my own guilt at yelling. Amazingly the good behaviour lasted till after dinner, when Maxi curled up on my lap for a long cuddle. The snuggle was all the sweeter because we so rarely get the chance to, and she’s never been much of a cuddler, even as an infant. As I got back to work fulfilling a knitting order, all I could think was ‘sod knitting for pennies – I want more time free to cuddle my babies and knit for *them*!’ Though maybe dressing them in my rainbow creations won’t exactly help stop them being teased…!