Often an experience brings you joy or sadness. Today I experienced both wrapped up in one.
As I washed Stephanie’s lunchbox out today, it dawned on me that if my calculations are correct, with half school days for exams, honor student lunch, and previously placed lunch orders, today was the last time I’ll ever pack a lunch for that kid. Next year she’ll be in high school, and food is included in the tuition.
When it first hit me, I was elated! Hot damn! One less miserable thing to do before 7 AM. I don’t have to hear, “Dad, you got my sandwich and Michelle’s sandwich mixed up again!! I like ham. She eats turkey! Got it?”
No longer do I have to search for a vegetable or fruit to ease my conscience – something to toss between the Cheetos and Pirate’s Bootie so they appear less unhealthy. No longer will I be searching for her cold packs at the crack of dawn, realizing I never returned it to the freezer to re-chill. I’ll never have to wash her lunchbox again or futz with the ornery zipper. Only three more years and Michelle will complete the cycle. I’ll be fully out of the lunch making business! Whoa whoa.
And then it hit me… no longer will Stephanie rely on me to fill her mid day belly. I won’t have the option to tuck in a funny love note to surprise her at school. I remember the first year I made her lunches. She wasn’t much bigger than her lunchbox. I tried my mom’s go tos - tuna and egg salad; Vienna Sausages; cold, dry bologna sandwiches – she didn’t complain. She just returned home with tuna and egg salad; Vienna Sausages; and cold, dry bologna.
“Stephanie, you didn’t eat your lunch baby.”
She’d smile and sweetly confess, “I didn’t like that stuff.”
No longer is my baby in middle school. She’s growing up. She’s moving on.
I got a lump in my throat – a lump about packing lunches. Lisa would have popped open a bottle of champagne. Not me. I’m too damn sentimental.
I think this phenomena of jodness (joy + sadness) might become a regular for me. Graduations are in my future. There could be a wedding or three. Maybe a wonderful career opportunity for my kid that isn’t within walking distance of Dellwood Drive.
Oh the joy! Oh the throat lump. I just feel jod tonight.