Wednesday November 26, 2014

20 lashes with a wet noodle

From the Top of the Pile

Stomp stomp stomp!

“I want the big chicken!”

“No, Spencer, there is no more big chicken.”

“I want the big chicken! Katrina got one.”

“Spencer, Katrina is twice as big as you. She gets the bigger chicken.”

Stomp stomp stomp! Pout pout pout. Tear. Pout. Stomp.

I had one real ticked off six-year-old boy the other day while getting ready for school. Our nine-year-old daughter messed up when she let her younger brother see that he got a drumstick with his lunch, while she got a thigh. It was leftovers from KFC, and boy, was he mad.

Never mind the fact that, according to the scale a couple weeks ago, Katrina weighs precisely double what Spencer weighs. She’s hit that growth spurt, and is now eating us out of house and home. For several years, the two would usually get pretty equal portions at mealtime, but that doesn’t cut it anymore.

A few weeks ago, Katrina came home from school, pouting. She was talking with her classmates and came to the realization that when they go to Subway, they all get 12-inch subs, whereas she has been getting a six-inch. She wants to eat from the adult menu, she said, and she’s still very hungry after a six-inch. Can’t really blame her there, I told my wife. Time to start buying her 12-inch subs.

This got me thinking about a Facebook post that was making its rounds the night before. The next day, it was on the National Post. Two Manitoba children, whose mom sent beef stew with them for lunch, got a note saying it wasn’t good enough. They charged her $10 for not including a grain, and gave the kids Ritz crackers as a supplement. Meat, potatoes, carrots and milk were not good enough, the headline noted.

I hope I don’t get arrested for sending some KFC with my kids. The fries have me clapped in irons.

The reality is I try hard to give my kids lunches that I didn’t have. When I was a kid, I often thought if I wrote an autobiography, it would be called A Ukrainian Raised on Peanut Butter. The fact is when my parents divorced, there was not a lot of extra money. We were poor, plain and simple. Divorce does that to you.

So I had a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. I still like it on occasion, but every day can be a bit much. I can’t give that to my kids, however, since peanuts can be lethal. I used to think the anti-peanut crowd was crazy until I had a near-lethal allergic reaction to penicillin last March. Now I understand the food restrictions schools and daycares have clamped down on.

Whenever possible, I try to send leftovers from the night before, often preparing a little extra for that purpose. This might be steak and a baked potato with chives and sour cream, or something as simple as frozen pizza that was cooked the night before. At least once a week, they have broccoli in their lunch. There is always a fruit. I include a nut-free granola bar for a snack, and a juice box with real juice. The kids have milk tickets at school for milk to go with lunch.

If it’s a sandwich, it’s either ham or baloney, the only two luncheon meats they will eat, with a cheese slice.

What I’ve found is that the fruit rarely gets eaten. Right now there is a bag of sliced up oranges waiting to be disposed of after I type this. Often the main course is only half eaten. The meat is rarely consumed and Katrina recently decided she hates milk.

So what do I do? I try to feed them good food for the most part. But often they won’t eat it.

If daycares start handing out fines over what is packed for lunch, I wonder what will happen with schools? And if so, does my kid get punished for not eating what I give them?

Perhaps they’ll get 20 lashes with a wet noodle.

— Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at



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