I made many parental mistakes. A biggie was falling in love with the Lunchables.
It was infatuation at first sight. I saw it in the deli section of the grocery store. I was looking for lunch meat for the kid, and my gaze immediately turned to a colorful, rectangle package. It was an entire school lunch in one: entree, sides, dessert, and even a damn drink. Like, finally someone understood the challenge of being a single-parent.
My kid shared the love for the Lunchables. Open up the frig and grab a lunch-to-go. Lunchables with Drink, Lunchables with 100% Juice, Lunchables without drink, and the ultimate oxymoron, Lunchables Organic.
Plus, the Lunchables were so much prettier than dad’s lame self-made meals. It was OCD geometric heaven: cheese cut into triangles, circled shaped bologna, and rectangular crackers. Plus, it’s a Lego-like self-assemble food product: Light Bologna and American Cheese Stackers, Turkey and Cheddar Crackers Stackers, and Ham and American Cheese Stackers.
I lusted for Lunchables for several weeks. But, like any relationship built on passion, the fog faded after a few weeks. The bright light of my grocery bill made me realize that the Lunchables was a high-priced partner. So, we parted ways.
Yet, I longed for the days of lust. I looked for substitutes. They were sloppy seconds and never matched the originality and beauty of the Lunchables.
I did a Dr. Frankenstein and tried to create my own lunch creature. I used cookie molds to transformed slices of bologna into holiday treats. I hacked cheddar cheese into bite-sized servings. I bought Ritz Crackers and stacked the parts into an edible whole. Sadly, it looked and tasted like a science project gone wrong.
One evening, as I was packing the kid’s lunch, I stole one of his Chips Ahoy! cookies. As I was feeling Chips bliss, I had an ahoy moment. What about adding chocolate chips to the PB&J?
I sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on top of the peanut butter. The PB&J became the PB&JCC. It was beautiful and proof of a supreme being.
My creature was immediately embraced, and the Lunchables faded into the past. The PB&JCC was such a hit that my son’s lunch table mates wanted me to make extra sandwiches. The creature lives!