When my kidlets Ben and Larissa were very little, I taught them how to plan and pack their own school lunches each morning. As I explained earlier here, I began by sticking a colourful poster of the 1982 Canada’s Food Guide on the fridge door. My two kidlets prepared their own packed lunches, having been well-trained that on every school morning, they’d need to consult the fridge poster to make sure their lunch boxes contained at least one fruit, one veggie, one protein, etc. I couldn’t care less what kind of fruit/veggie/protein they chose as long as it all added up, and if they wanted to pack exactly the same favourite lunch day after day after day, that was fine with me, too.
And, let’s face it: controlling their own lunch menus also reduced the temptation to trade Mum’s über-healthy homemade Tofu Surprise lunch for a classmate’s marshmallow creme-on-white bread sandwich in the schoolyard. I’d sometimes sneak in little surprise notes (“Have fun on your class trip this morning! love, Mum XOXO”) but otherwise, what they put in was what they found later on. I always figured that teaching them to pack their own school lunches would help them to become independent and self-reliant.
This childrearing attitude is apparently just one of the character traits that sets me apart from many Japanese mothers, according to Dr. Anne Allison, a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University. Continue reading