Little did I know all these months that the school lunch that I was making for one of my daughters was actually feeding someone else’s kid. Not every day, mind you. This has only occurred on those mornings when I felt inspired at the crack of dawn to boil up a pot of penne, toss it with pesto, and spoon it carefully into a Thermos. And, I only learned about it when my daughter mentioned in passing that her friend had asked why she had stopped bringing in her favorite pasta.
“You don’t eat your lunch?” I asked.
“No, well, Liv likes it,” she said.
There is much that parents cannot know about their kids’ days. This is one of those things. We make the lunches as the sun comes over the morning horizon, then, if we actually remember to grab them from the kitchen counter and we pack the kids off to school, what happens next is largely a mystery.
I doubt very much that my daughter’s friend’s folks know that I have been occasionally supplementing their daughter’s lunch, and, similarly, I have no clue whose bag my own child is raiding. It is a suitable metaphor for their gradual climb toward adulthood, getting us as parents ready perhaps for the larger separations to come.
Adelia tells me that most kids don’t care for the cafeteria food at the East Hampton Middle School. On Tuesday, after making her the pasta pesto and then forgetting to put it in the car, I had to go buy something for her and bring it to the front desk.
I was not alone; there were a half-dozen similar lunches arrayed there by the time I was buzzed in, and a couple of people were coming in with more as I headed back to my truck. When I was a student there in the mid-1970s, I don’t recall that parents ever came with lunches. Of course, back then we walked to school uphill both ways. In the snow. Barefoot.