A pick-me-up snack
I have developed a special power. I can tell when Elliot did not like his lunch at day care without looking at the menu or even asking him about it.
Some days I pick him up from school, and he approaches me with excitement, holding a piece of scrap paper he has colored so mercilessly that the marker has bled through the page. “This is for you, Mama!” he exclaims. We walk through the hall, and he holds my hand nicely. When I ask him how his day was, he replies, “Good and great!” We retrieve his kitty from his cubby, check out in the office and head to the car, where he tells me who of his classmates sat in timeout, what the art project was and how he jumped off the slide at the playground.
Then, there are the days when I walk into the room and he refuses to come with me. Changing his stubborn mind, he darts off, runs through the hallway and hits the buttons on the water fountain as he passes it. “Hey, get back here. Please do not run in the hall. No, Elliot. Don’t waste water!” He whines, “Give me my kitty!” When I answer, “Ask me nicely,” he plops down on the floor next to his cubby. I walk away and tell him “I’m going home.” He eventually catches up, and the whining continues.
A few weeks ago, as we were getting into the car on a whiny day, Elliot spied in my lunch bag an apple that I had not eaten. He asked if he could have it, and I allowed it since it was healthy. I was surprised by how hungry he was. Lunch time is 11:30. Snack time is somewhere between 2:30 and 3. By the time I pick him up at 5, he shouldn’t be starving – that is, if he ate well during lunch and snack times.
One of Elliot’s teachers has told me recently that he often doesn’t eat much during lunch. He “picks” at any bread included and mows down his fruit. Nothing tempts to ruin my precious evenings with Elliot more than a whiny, disobedient, hungry version of the sweet boy I know to be my son.
Now, no matter what is on the school’s lunch and snack menus, I have started taking a snack for Elliot, something that he can easily (read: without too much mess) eat in the car. It’s usually fruit or whole-grain crackers. He doesn’t always ask, but on the days when he does say, “Did you bring me a snack?” I’m happy to be prepared. Giving him a healthy “pick-me-up” makes our time together more enjoyable for both of us by starting the evening with a “good and great” experience.
Originally published on ovparent.com.