I have a favorite writer and her name is Anne Lamott. She has, through her books, literally guided me through the craziest moments, just because she has documented her life and the lessons she's learned so very very well. She turns the everyday into breathtakingly clear moments of hilarity and honesty and truth.
Now that I am starting to write again, I am also going to start following some of her advice: she says to start with short assignments, like "school lunches". Here are my (probably crazy)thoughts on School Lunches.
Paper Bag Pots of Gold
My mom is a teacher, and when we were growing up, she would leave for work before we left for school. But she always made our lunches, healthy and well-rounded, and she understood the social importance of the plain brown paper bag. And our lunches, on holidays, would usually have a surprise, usually chocolate, and a note. The notes would always fill me with a ridiculous amount of excitement, even though, publicly, I would scoff the babyness of it all. But really, there is something about opening a note from your mom in your school lunch that makes you feel so purely happy: someone LOVES me!
I am not a mother yet, but for a few years I was a nanny for three girls, aged 8 to 18. Being a nanny, especially a live-in nanny, is an extremely rewarding and confusing and lovely and unnatural thing. I loved those girls ferociously. I still do. But not quite like daughters, not quite like sisters, not quite like friends; like a daughter-sister-friend. A combination, that when combined with the fact that they already had a mother, sisters, and friends, and so did I, got extremely complicated.
Regardless, I found myself making school lunches for these girls and I loved making lunches for these girls. I wanted so badly to put in surprises and little notes for them, like my mother did for me, to give them that Someone LOVES Me! feeling of warmth. But I was not the mother, and that would be a clear step over the line in the ongoing political mother-nanny campaign. What was a nanny to do?
The nanny made the most kick-ass lunches ever.
I found myself waking up early to figure out what was in the fridge, what would be nutritious but also be very, very cool. I would not be the nanny who made sandwiches that were soggy, I would not throw in water crackers instead of cheez-its, and I would certainly not press two dollars into their hands as we rushed out the door. I packed trade-able items, items that really made a difference in the social hell of the lunchroom. I popped popcorn, I baked brownies, I cut apples and poured little Tupperware bowls of honey. I made Nutella and banana sandwiches, I sliced brie and avocado. In a nutshell, I rocked their social and nutritional worlds. I made paper-bag pots of gold. And they knew I loved them. I know they knew.