The holiday season had passed, and the children were back to school. It was time to hit the books, learn where Oregon is, get confused by math, color INSIDE the lines, study handwriting, and learn why George Washington crossed the Delaware. Hard work for little minds. Oh, what the days ahead had in store. But first, they needed to make their lunches the night before.
And the event in our kitchen appeared nothing like the sitcoms. No, ours is a chaotic multitude, crawling over one another like newly hatched sea turtles rushing to the ocean.
The children make their own lunches. If a child is old enough to go to school, then they are old enough to make their lunch. And so, they dash about the kitchen, the house, and sometimes even the front yard, like squirrels looking for just the right nuts. “No please, not the walnuts today, nor the acorns. Today, I feel like pistachios.”
I do have to admire the variety they come up with. Ham sandwiches, if we have ham. Peanut butter and jelly is a popular choice. While there are a few who inexplicably want plain peanut butter. Some ask for plain jelly, and are answered NO. Spam, if I allow its release. Cold burritos, always made hot. And often, one Pooh Bear will ask for a plain honey sandwich.
Some children are more efficient than others. I have seen #2 slap together four sandwiches like an automated machine. Oh, did I say slap, I meant SLAM the sandwiches together. While on the other hand, #3 has been known lose track of reality halfway through spreading the peanut butter. I am not sure where she goes, but it is clearly more interesting than where we are at.
And then there is #5, who is certain to get an early PHD in the study of “Lunch Making Avoidance.” He will drag his feet, delay at the dinner table, and spend an extraordinarily long time in the bathroom. If he can, he will beguile, persuade, or guilt a sister into make his sandwich for him. One evening, when bedtime was fast approaching, I instructed #3 to help #5 once her lunch was packed. When I entered the kitchen to check on their progress, I saw #3 spreading jelly and #5 walking in circles around a chair, as if his movement could fool us into believing he was busy.
I am not so easily fooled. I stopped #3 and sent her to bed. If #5 did not plan to assist in the creation of his lunch, then he would make it by himself. Like a lively anthill, there was too much work in our home for one child not to carry his load. #5 may not be able to lift five times his own weight, but he can certainly lift a butter knife.
So, learning started early for #5. Lesson 1: Do not abuse your help. Lesson 2: Spreading jelly.