Friday, September 13, 2013

Loopholes, Sneakiness and Kids' Lunches

One lesson I never thought I would have to teach my kids was how to be sneaky. For me, as a child, this came naturally. I was figuring out loopholes and how to get my way from an extremely young age. I was that kid who, when told go to my room and go to bed for the night, and was found 20 minutes later laying in bed reading a book, simply stated, "You told me to go to bed, not to go to sleep."

Symantics have always been an important part of who I am, which is why I just assumed my kids would have inherited my love of bending the rules.

Good grief, was I wrong.
Pic from Eating Well

My kids have been coming home lately with food still in their lunch boxes, leftover from lunch. This seriously urks my nerves, because
  1. It wastes money.
  2. I don't pack their lunch for my health or enjoyment.
  3. It wastes money.
  4. It means they aren't getting a well balanced lunch.
  5. It wastes money.
I decided to test my kids, and see just how far the apples fall from the tree. Choosing my words extremely carefully, I told them:

"I am tired of y'all bringing home food that you didn't eat at lunch. No more. I want to see empty lunch boxes from now on, got it? And that DOESN'T mean you just throw the food away. That's wasting money, too."

They gave me some sort of a yes answer and went on about their business. The next day, they came home with leftover food in both of their lunch boxes. 

"What did I tell y'all? I told you empty lunch boxes."

That's when The Girl told me she doesn't like cheese sticks and The Ginger told me he wasn't fond of the
type of sandwich wraps I was making, so they just didn't eat them at lunch. They didn't want to throw them away, like I had told them, so they just left the food in their lunch boxes and awaited their fates.

I hung my head in partial shame. My kids had acquired none of my sneaky skills. So, I did what a mom probably shouldn't have done:

I taught my kids about loopholes. 

I asked them if they had ever thought of trading the items they didn't want in their lunches for items their friends didn't want in their lunches... something I honestly thought came naturally to kids. The Girl stared at me like I was growing a second head, and The Ginger quietly stated:

"Do you remember when I wasn't eating my sandwiches and then I all of a sudden was eating my sandwiches? Well, I wasn't eating my sandwiches. I was trading them for my friend's corn dog."

His eyes widened as he waited for my reaction. 

"See? That's what I'm TALKING about! I *should* be mad at you for trading your lunch, but I can't be mad. Kids trade lunches. It's been done for probably a century now. So, I can't be mad at you, because you traded your sandwich for something of equal-ish value- a corndog. In fact, you might have even upgraded some." 

Once The Ginger realized I wasn't mad at him, he breathed a sigh of relief and gave his sister the Nanny Nanny Boo-Boo, Stick Your Head in Doo-Doo look. 

That's when The Girl tried to get all of the madness to stop:

"So, you mean you want us to lie to you?"

"This has nothing to do with lying, per say. I told you to bring home empty lunch boxes, but to not throw the food away. Trading what you don't want for something your friend doesn't want in their lunch means you bring home an empty lunch box, are eating more food at lunch, and you aren't wasting money by not eating something or by throwing it away. Now, if I ask you if you ate your lunch, and you tell me 'Yes', when you actually traded stuff in it, then *that's* lying. If you trade something, tell me what you traded so I can make an assessment, for future use, as to whether or not it's a good trade. But, don't lie to me. And make sure you are eating enough at school. That's all I ask. If that means you trade items, then trade them. It's what kids do." 

Both of my kids sat and pondered my strange advice that day. I could have continued my speech with lessons on symantics, bending the rules, and always looking for loopholes, but I figured I'd be shooting myself in the foot, as a mom, if I did that. That is something that will definitely come up and bite you in the ass later.
Pic from AHI

So, I left my lesson in sneakiness to simply trading items in their lunches if they didn't want to eat them. I honestly can't believe I actually had to teach my kids about that. I really thought something like that was just ingrained in kids from the time they could start thinking for themselves and pushing their parents' buttons. 

Not my kids. 

And, now that I've taught them a mini-lesson in loopholes and sneakiness, I'm curious to see what comes of it. The Mom side of me hopes nothing- they'll just trade items in their lunches and leave it at that. But, the Morgan Mom side of me hopes they run with it like the wind, finding loopholes in everything, and I find them one night, laying in bed reading a book, saying, "You told me to go to bed, not to go to sleep." I will act like I'm frustrated and give them the "You know EXACTLY what I meant, now turn off your light and go to sleep" Mom Answer, but as I close their bedroom door and head down the hall, I'll have the biggest smile on my face that any mother could possibly have because my kids were turning out to be just like me. 

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  1. I just love how you write. I love that you told a story about a simple little moment and made into something bigger. Didn't you say you had a book coming out? I will totally read it.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it'll be out next month- we're getting the final cover details worked out now! I'm excited, lol. =)