Thursday, September 18, 2008


One of my favorite children’s books, even before I began to read it to Allie and Julia, is Bread and Jam for Frances. It’s about a little badger who refuses to eat anything for breakfast, lunch or dinner but bread and jam.

I believe this book went far in shaping my parenting style. Frances goes for days without eating anything but bread and jam while her mother makes wonderful meals for the rest of the family. This passive aggressive torture finally shatters Frances. She breaks down and cries because she’s eating bread and jam while everyone else is slurping up spaghetti and meatballs. I have used this method in my many attempts to bend and snap the will of my children. It takes a lot of endurance but once or twice it’s actually worked.

But Frances’ mother wasn’t the only one taking part in breaking down her resolve to eat nothing but bread and jam. Frances’ buddy, Albert at school brings these incredibly elaborate lunches. Here’s an excerpt I found on the Web:

Albert took two napkins from his lunch box.
He tucked one napkin under his chin.
He spread the other one on his desk like a tablecloth.
He arranged his lunch neatly on the napkin.
With his spoon he cracked the shell of the hard-boiled egg.
He peeled away the shell and bit off the end of the egg.
He sprinkled salt on the yolk and set the egg down again.
He unscrewed his thermos-bottle cup and filled it with milk.
Then he was ready to eat his lunch.
He took a bite of sandwich, a bite of pickle, a bite of hard-boiled egg, and a drink of milk.
Then he sprinkled more salt on the egg and went around again.
Albert made the sandwich; the pickle, the egg, and the milk come out even.

Holy cow! Ever since I’ve read this book I’ve wanted to have an anal retentive lunch like this. Well, I’m writing to let you know that I’ve come pretty close.
Deb has been making my lunches each day and each day I’ve been impressed with the diverse and well executed menu she has prepared for me. Here’s what was in my lunch box today:

A bag of sweet baby carrots.
An apple.
A pluot.
Soy and wasabi flavored almonds.
Two sour cream cookies Grandma Ellen sent for my birthday.
String cheese.
A bologna sandwich with ketchup on white bread.

All this is accompanied by a napkin with a small heart drawn on it with a Sharpie.

I wish I could say I ate my lunch with the same panache that Albert demonstrates in the book but I don’t. I eat the carrots in the morning (I like them but not as much as everything else so I get them out of the way). Then I usually eat a piece of fruit soon after. Everything else gets wolfed down quickly around noon. Then all the debris gets shoved into a single baggie then thrown into the trash.

I avoid using the napkin with the little heart on it. I can’t seem to bring myself to get anything on it.

Lunch these days seems to be the only bright spot in my working day. I’m very grateful that Debbie takes the time to make my day. However, I am still waiting for the ultimate lunch. It’s the menu that Frances gets once her parents and Albert have finally broken her will. She gives up the bread and jam and the book describes what her mother makes her for lunch:

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, "What do you have today?"
"Well," said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, "let me see." She arranged her lunch on the doily.
"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said. "And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with."
"That's a good lunch," said Albert. "I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice."

That’s a good lunch!? What the hell, Albert? He’s a badger for crying out loud. We all know he should be happy gnawing the heads off half-rotten earthworms. But for this particular, metrosexual badger a lobster-salad sandwich makes for just a good lunch. Not incredible, or spectacular or the best lunch ever. It is good. And that’s enough to teach us all a lesson about adding more than just bread, jam and half-rotten earthworms to our diets.

So as much as I can’t wait to open my lunchbox each day I’m still waiting to experience the ultimate, Frances lunch (cardboard shaker of salt and all). Maybe I’ll make it this weekend. I can’t wait to see how Julia reacts to black olives, let alone lobster-salad. I’m guessing the paper doily is the key. It’s either that or another dose of passive aggressive torture. As for me I’m thinking paper doilies are passive aggressive torture.